Al Murray: The Pub Landlord

EMMA OUTTEN Norwich Theatre Royal

EMMA OUTTEN

You know The Pub Landlord is in the house when the done thing is to take a pint to your seat. The fella who walked in with a bottle of wine, on the other hand, was on distinctly dangerous ground.

As all of us who are familiar with Al Murray's alter ego know, white wine is for ladies and ladies alone.

Murray enjoys a loyal fan base with The Pub Landlord. There was a high percentage of men with equally shaven heads in the audience – but there were a lot of ladies too.

His show does exactly what it says on the tin, as the Landlord immediately gave it both barrels to the audience. He told us we were beautiful people for living in Norwich ("so other people don't have to") and he had the audience eating – or rather drinking – out of his hand. Glen was without a pint, so the Guv'nor ordered him to the bar. And Ben the student was sent up to the Circle with a big beach ball of the globe, as part of the 'How it Used to Feel to be British' sketch.

Murray knows his audience and he remembers names and weaves them into his stand-up routine.

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France and the French did not feature so much as the new focus for the Guv'nor's vitriol: America. On such hot issues, it was sometimes difficult to know if the audience was laughing at or with the Landlord for his patriotic outbursts

For one member of the audience the boundary, between Al Murray, one of the celebrity chefs who took his time in Hell's Kitchen seriously, and his alter ego, became blurred.

In the strangest heckle I've ever heard, the confused young lady said the man on stage didn't have a friend in the audience. Funnily enough, Al Murray did have a real friend in the audience (it turned out that he had known Gavin, the stag he had got up on stage, for most of his life) and the audience hadn't stopped laughing at The Pub Landlord's 'wisdom' all night.

The Guv'nor eventually had to bar her from his pub – the audience cheered. With enemies like these, who needs friends?

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