In the wake of New Labour's landslide at the election last month, Al Murray's Pub Landlord may well be the only right-wing person left in Britain. Ranting away about putting the Great back into Britain, the Landlord is an inspired and all-too-easily recognisable creation. He represents the comically small-minded attitudes that stalk the saloon-bars of the nation.
In King of Beers, his latest show, which the comedian is dry-running at the Pleasance in London before Edinburgh, the Landlord rails that "We've lost our way," Murray reveals. "Part of the aim of the show is to put the fire back into people about Britain - especially la-di-da Edinburgh audiences. `There's no point in learning a foreign language. If you shout loud enough, they'll understand.' I also explain the chaos theory and how it affects pub catering. `We don't serve spaghetti in pubs because of the chaos theory.' And I'll prove the existence of God - `It stands to reason'. It's like medieval theology - you take the wrong point of view and pursue it to its logical conclusion."
But why has this neandethal Grant Mitchell-alike struck such a chord with audiences? "People love an idiot," Murray reckons. "Last year, in the tailend of the Tory government when the right wing was going beserk, I chimed in with that. He's also a bullshitter and everyone's met a bullshitter. I trip myself often enough that it's obvious the whole thing's at the Landlord's expense. Every other word defeats me."
Even so, some audiences don't understand that it's a joke. "I have the odd gig where the penny doesn't drop," Murray sighs. "The other week I ended up being booed off stage; people were shouting `sexist pig' at me. I spill beer, I mug, I act like an idiot. When people don't get it, I think, `What's going on here?'"
Although Murray thinks his creation is "a great big shining idiot", he evidently has a soft spot for him. "He hasn't got it in for anyone. He really thinks he's doing the best he can. Like a lot of right-wing people, he sees himself as the last bastion of sense and order. He's in a permanent state of outrage - like The Daily Mail. He's just someone of very little imagination. If he can't do something, he can't imagine why anyone can - which is where prejudice springs from. But I'm always loathe to analyse too hard. I don't want to look a berk for not fulfilling these lofty ambitions. It's only stand- up; it's not painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel."
EYE ON THE NEW
In their last show, "Two Giddy Kippers", Andy Parsons and Henry Naylor
played a "Stars on 45"-type hits compilation on Fisher-Price toys in which Naylor played "Purple Haze" on a baby guitar with his teeth. So there are high hopes for such inspired stupidity from their latest offering, "The Merry Onions of Dorking", warming up before Edinburgh at The Grace Theatre, The Latchmere, London SW11 (0171-223 3549) 18-21 JunReuse content