Al Murray’s One Man, One Guvnor is only in its preview stages, but already it is a spectacularly funny set. Murray’s premise is that he intends to set up a new government, using the audience as his Parliament and the front few rows as his cabinet. As part of this, it is of course vital that we get to meet the cabinet and much of Murray’s show is dedicated to engaging with and mocking anyone brave enough to venture into the front seats.
Murray is a master of subverting expectations and playing his jokes on several levels.
Much of the show is based around this interaction. While Murray is clearly using this as a springboard for his prepared material, it still makes the show feel impressively spontaneous. His conversation with the audience is raucous and exciting, giving the whole show an anarchic feel. Despite this, we never lose the sense that Murray is completely in control, both of his material and of the audience.
Murray’s Pub Landlord character being as it is, there are jokes which skate dangerously around the topics of race, class and gender. However, these are saved from potentially misfiring by Murray’s strong self-awareness and sense of irony. This is not a man hurling abuse and creating controversy for its own sake; Murray is a master of subverting expectations and playing his jokes on several levels.
The show is not perfect: there is the occasional lull and sometimes Murray dwells on the same joke for slightly too long. But for a preview, this show is highly impressive. This is an energetic and exciting hour and a half and the atmosphere that Murray succeeds in creating in the room is exceptional. Go along and have a taste of it yourself.