It’s been more than 16 years since Alexei Sayle has done a stand-up tour and, despite his appearance at the Norwich Playhouse being the last night of the run, Sayle stumbled uncertainly through much of his material. Despite that, the audience still loved him.
The set was something of a catch-up for the past two decades. Rooted in his characteristic shouty, sweary style it dealt with his career shift to author (and the de-gentification of the publishing industry), the politics of New Labour and the coalition, and the inanity of light entertainment, as well as some near nostalgic references to his childhood and past TV and music work.
Still caustic and clever, there somehow seemed something missing from Sayle’s performance: a lack of conviction.
At its best it was easy to get caught in the quick, emotional bombardment of his delivery, at its worst you wondered whether he really wanted to be on stage at all.
This was an enjoyable walk down memory lane, but Sayle is going to need stronger stuff if he’s going to make a permanent return to live comedy.