I was delighted to see that Al Murray the Pub Landlord is standing at the South Thanet general election
. He is thus putting himself in direct competition with Nigel Farage. As well as being an excellent publicity stunt for himself (oh did you spot that? Aren’t you a genius? The rest of us would never have thought of that without your incredible insight), it is more importantly a wonderful piece of genuine satire. Al has been making some comedic mileage out of his similarity to Farage in recent years and some people would argue attracting a similar kind of fan (but it’s difficult to control the people who like what you’re doing. There’s a section of Stewart Lee fans who are probably amongst the most horrible and superior people on earth - just take a look at the comments section on any article about Bridget Christie for example and notice the way the posters seem to assume that Stewart would somehow agree with their prejudiced hypotheses- who have similarly failed to see the irony or subtlety in what Stew is doing and who mistakenly think that simply by being fans of Stewart Lee makes you as clever or comedically knowledgeable as Stewart Lee), but to walk through the looking glass and enter the real world to stand beside the man who says such similar things to him FOR REAL, is a wonderful and simplistic, but I hope effective piece of satire. It makes Farage look more ridiculous than all the pen and paper satirists, preaching to the converted (and I am including myself in this) have achieved. If Ukip supporters really do love Al, then this will make them have to consider who they like the best and what it is that they believe. I don’t think Al will split anyone’s vote or really tempt many UKIP voters away, but it will hopefully shine a light on Farage and UKIP and reveal their snake eyes. And even if it doesn’t,it’s genuinely a funny thing to do, mocking both UKIP and the pub landlord.
It might work in UKIP’s favour: it seems that every attack on them has done so so far, allowing them to take on the mantle of the oppressed victim, rather than the entitled bullies that they actually are. But I think and hope that it will be much more difficult for them to deal with. They have to try and laugh it off or look like they can’t take a joke (certainly their tactic so far), meaning that Al has a proper opportunity to eviscerate them and make them look as stupid and offensive and as thoughtless as they really are. Who knows where it will go? Jokes have a habit of spiralling out of control, but I think all great comedy has to do that. Even though all comedy starts as a controlled lack of control and you can second guess what the reaction might be for all you’re worth, you never know. That’s what makes it exciting.
In all likelihood Al will get 500 votes, maybe beat the Lib Dems and sell a few DVDs, but what if he trips Farage up? What if he actually goes ahead and wins the thing? I would quite like to see all the other parties withdraw from the race entirely and leave the people of South Thanet the stark choice of the joke candidate or Al Murray (do you see what I did?) Even if Farage won, he has still only won a battle with a fictional character. He was likely to win this seat anyway. Imagine the damage that is done to him if he lost. Imagine the damage that is done if he wins.
I don’t know what Al would do if he won - it would be massively inconvenient for him and in itself that would mean that he had managed to satirise himself as well - and whether he would represent South Thanet in character. I don’t agree with all of the real Al’s politics, but I think he’d actually be a much better MP than almost anyone.
With comedians increasingly getting involved in politics I do have a daydream of a parliament of fools, where we get 650 comedians to stand for parliament, both as a satire of politics and as a platform to change and modernise our political system. The success of UKIP shows how dissatisfied the public is with conventional politics. This party of comedians would stand on a reformist platform. If they gained power their sole job would be to overhaul our current system and make it fit for the 21st Century.
The public school and male dominated parliament of three identical parties has to change. I would suggest moving parliament to a purpose built modern building (with enough seats for all the MPS) in the middle of the country, with politicians elected by proportional representation with each party duty bound to provide a representative sample of race and sex. Let’s pay them all £100,000 a year, but they get no expenses and they’re not allowed to take any other job whilst in government or sit on any company boards and let’s get rid of all the stupid heckling and archaic rules of parliament and make our political process something grown-up and not embarrassing to watch. I’d suggest we sold off the Houses of Parliament to pay for all that - to someone who has to run it as an unchanged tourist attraction and we could also really knock back the national debt by selling off one or two of the royal families palaces to some Americans.
Once my 650 comedians had voted all that through they would then fuck back off to doing stand up and crisp commercials, but we might have given our democracy some chance of surviving and some relevance. You may call me a comedian. I am a comedian.
But this country need a Parliament of Fools to replace the parliament of fools.
Al can be our Nigel Farage. If he can get in then imagine how well someone who isn’t fictional could do. Let’s have a funny revolution.
And yes, of course I have noticed the cheeky "Moon on a Stick" reference, though this was an existing phrase before Stew and I failed to popularise it.
Tickets are now on sale for my ludicrous and ambitious plan to perform all 12 of my solo stand up shows (including a brand new one) at the Leicester Square Theatre on Fridays and Saturdays in August and September. It's £15 to see one show, but the price reduces to £12 a ticket if you book for 3 or more shows, £10 a ticket if you book 6 or more shows and only £8.33 a ticket if you book for all 12 (you must book at the same time and discount applied at the end of the process). Also anyone buying tickets to all 12 shows (at the same time) will receive a T shirt with the poster of one of the shows hand-drawn (badly) by me on it.
I still have Scope programmes for all the shows (except menage a un and probably only enough for one between two for Hercules), but it will be a nice way to earn some extra revenue for the charity at no extra expense too.
A few items approaching their deadline on ebay as I write this (and yes I am wanking as I write this). Don't miss out - bid now