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Review: Al Murray, Royal Concert Hall

October 23 2010

IT was the oddest heckle I’d heard at any comedy show. And it seemed to mark a turning point.
Al Murray has been doing The Pub Landlord character for more than a decade and some might think he should move on. But the narrow-minded Brit behind the bar can be as good as live comedy gets - largely due to Murray’s knack of playing with the front row.
On Saturday night he’d been doing just that for 45 minutes.
There were “the scroats” Brad and Mitchell: “You should be doing a post office right now”, he said. There was ‘Elvis’, the 19-year-old out with his dad, given £20 to go and buy him a pint. Which he dutifully did, to great  approval.
Ditto the cone of chips that cost Ed a tenner.
Murray needs very little prepared material . In fact, when he resorts to it, he’s not as good.
It was during such a routine, about people being “bonkers mental”, when the backdrop changed from the Union Jack to a red-eyed Pope, that the mood shifted.
He had just begun to touch on child-abuse in the Catholic church, when he was interrupted by someone on the first balcony, shouting “that happened to me and it’s not funny.”
Murray was caught off guard. What could he say?
“I’m sorry to hear that.”
He rightly pointed out he wasn’t making fun of the abused but criticising the Pope’s attitude towards it.
There were a few seconds of odd silence then Murray moved on. But it seemed to have unnerved everyone.
The pace of the delivery ebbed, the laughs weren’t as abundant.
He tied off nicely with his theory of animals with hands (it’s the meerkats)  but I bet there was only one thing people were talking about down their local yesterday lunchtime.

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