Alexei Sayle

Cotton Ward, Alexei Sayle, Alisdair Finnie

Cotton Ward, Alexei Sayle, Alisdair Finnie

Alexei Sayle was in a reflective mood at the Cockatoo Island Comedy Festival. He’s now an author but occasionally scores gigs, such as Miss Marple, which his agent said he’d got cause his new beard makes him look intellectual.

Sayle commented frankly on the comedy scene in the UK and the disparity in various people’s fortunes. “Ade Edmondson doesn’t have to work anymore cause he’s married to Jennifer Saunders. The money just streams in through the letterbox every day.” He says he “hates” Ben Elton for inviting him to his Rod Stewart musical, Tonight’s the Night, and there were three tiers/floor levels at the after-party and Sayle was placed in the middle level, “stuck with a saxophone player from the Clash in a closet”.  You can’t take any anecdotes literally — he said he still gets on with Ben Elton. He exaggerates for effect and it works.

He recounted how he gave up comedy in 1998 when he was drinking in a pub in Fremantle, WA (I was attending the festival with my sister and brother-in-law from Fremantle who’d travelled here just for the festival). “I gave it up cause it’s so hard!” He said stand-up is very difficult and involves a lot of touring. “Writing is much easier and civilised. I can say everything I want to.”

There were manic clips from The Young Ones and he said he was pretty difficult to get along with sometimes; other times he was down to earth.

He said he came up with French and Saunders’ name — they’d called themselves “Kitchen Tiles” and he told them to use their surnames. There’s little chance of a Young Ones reunion — Rick was badly affected in a quad bike accident in 1998 (“I cut the brakes,” Sayle quipped.)

He still has that anarchic sense of humour. He added he’s never done an ad in Britain as he’d feel like he’d sold out, but he’s done an ad elsewhere — I think it was here.

The show made a few of us think about looking at his books.

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