Two Fridays ago I finally succeeded in getting tickets to see the hairy Canadian. Eighteen years after his debut at he Fringe, I find myself in the (horrendously revamped) Assembly Rooms (no, really; any memory you may hold of the dingy but friendly interior is vanquished. And clumsily managed. …What was I talking about?).
Paraphrasing Daniel Baddiel during a recent Review Show, comedy is one of the few places (or many, depending on your viewpoint) where critics and reviewers are not needed. If the audience is laughing, you have done your job. Since I agree, I will instead focus on the context Campbell’s show resides within. Similar to a few posts ago, the environment interests me more. It also sent me on me on acomedy-history tangent.
(Warning: there are some swears lurking in here).
Greeted by the man himself limbering up before the show, we were seated in an audience of perhaps a hundred. Up close and personal, like it should be, it imitated the very nature of the comedy club, something which seems to be making a comeback (see previous post). Loud, fast and a tendency to go on a tangent about what it is to be a male around middle age, we are taken on a journey through his adventures and injuries that seem too ridiculous to be true.
I think he’s the first person I’ve come across who has sustained more injuries than I have, except I am yet to break a bone. Well, unless you count fracturing the very tip of my thumb when I closed a Mercedes SL 300 door on it. That entire event, however, was completely overshadowed by the lock going through my nail bed, the blood and eventual loss (and regrowth!) of my nail. The latter half of P6 was great: I became ambidextrous and keeping the rhythm going in the bass clef on piano grew significant strength. Light in the dark, etc.
All in all, it was a fun hour and worth the wait (for me, at least). Although I do hold him responsible for the beating Karma gave me over the weekend.
“Don’t call it a comeback. I’ve been here for years“. Duly noted, intro music disguised as LL Cool J.
As the youngest person in the audience (which I should be used to by now, but come on, at 22? Really? I can’t be the only one my age who likes the guy) the first part of the show felt particularly pertinent to me. Having decided he might have to come up with new material, he concludes that actually, he can recycle the old stuff but change the names: Thatcher becomes Cameron, political disasters become Dizzie Rascals.
With 17 years off of the circuit, it is unsurprising that Sayle is looking back in his show, comparing comedy and people’s opinions of him then to now. Reading out a review from the 80s from his Soho days, “apparently the audience had never been called a cunt before“. Yeah, I think times have definitely changed.
As Sayle says in his show, you don’t get political comedy anymore because people are frightened to be publicly attached to an ideology. Comedians are more inclined to make ‘banal observations’ than commit to anything with meaning. Seconded.
In amongst his nostalgic rants, which are still full of that famous venom and vibrance, his bewilderment at opinions held of him by others was simply hilarious. It was also very telling of the human condition when it comes to remembering someone or some thing. There was a Top 100 British Comedians programme of recent years (aren’t there always) and Sayle came 17th which, as he revels with delight in pointing out, was during his 12th year of career hiatus:
“The only reason people revere me is because they’ve never fuckin’ seen me!“
Beyond ecstatic for having seen the man. Very funny, passionate and articulate. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of someone who could summarise his genre so succinctly:
“‘Google the twat’. I love doing a gag where nobody laughs. Because that is alternative comedy!“
You can understand why he is regarded so highly. That and everyone loves a grouchy bastard.