The 5-minute Interview: Alexei Sayle, Writer and performer

'My friend and I pretend to be Arab experts'
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The Independent Online

The Emmy award-winning comedian and author Alexei Sayle is one of Britain's most successful comedy writers, having starred in several of his own shows, including 'Alexei Sayle's Stuff' and 'The All New Alexei Sayle Show', and produced a string of radio, television and literary hits. Always an ardent Marxist, Sayle is currently presenting a season of Russian documentaries on the Sky Arts channel to mark the 90th anniversary of the October Revolution

If I weren't talking to you right now, I'd be...

Pretending to be a lecturer at the School of Oriental and African Studies. I have a lot of nice Italian winter clothes that make me look like a sophisticated Lebanese professor, so my friend Robert and I go around pretending to be experts in Arabic politics. It doesn't work in the summer though. I don't have the right clothes.

A common misperception of me is...

I suppose the common idea of me is that I'm going to be someone who's hyper and cracking jokes all the time, but people who meet me are soon disabused of that notion.

I wish that people would take more notice of...

The terrible clutter of traffic signs on our streets and the awful spread of chain supermarkets and coffee shops that make each high street identical to every other. If I won the Lottery I'd start a charity that helped little family hardware stores, cobblers and fruit shops open in city centres.

A phrase I use far too often...

Honestly, it wasn't my fault.

I'm good at...

Shooting. I'm not brilliant but I can handle a semi-automatic firearm.

I'm very bad at...

Crosswords. I can't see the point.

The ideal night out is...

A visit to one of those Chinese all-you-can-eat buffets with a couple of friends. Though you tend to be in and out quite fast so you're home by 9pm feeling slightly queasy.

In moments of weakness I...

Start sweating.

You know me as a writer and performer but in a truer life I'd have been...

A lecturer in Arab politics at SOAS.

The best age to be is...

I liked 35 and in both my novels that is the age of the lead characters. I tried making them my age but they just seemed to keep moaning about stuff.

In a nutshell, my philosophy is this:

I would say I was still a Marxist – which is not to be confused with being a Communist. Despite its flaws, Marxism still seems to explain the material world better than anything else.

Alice-Azania Jarvis

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