I love hearing and reading well-written reviews. Please do let me have them. I will even share them if they are critical. Here’s a lovely one from George who was at Malpas last weekend.
‘Good to see Mr Alexander again at Malpas on Sunday. I really liked the new tall hat and greatcoat in the opening scene, overtones of “Steam Punk” I thought. A great show as usual of course but Mr A. suffering a little from wind and unpredictable children. Wind yes, but not the after effects of some Indian takeaway but a hot afternoon with the warm wind gusting a little from the south. If juggling an umbrella, ball and a feather duster wasn’t difficult enough, factor in the variable wind gusting across the stage, I have to take my hat off to him. And yes the unpredictability of children too. Mr Alexander moved on to his finger guillotine illusion and his initially enthusiastic participant, a young lad called Charlie was becoming less so by the minute at the thought of losing one of his fingers, the build up to the climax was pure magic as usual but by the time a little girl had been briefed on her role as finger catcher complete with huge red rubber gloves poor Charlie was convinced the little guillotine was about to slice off his finger and so at the 11th hour, 59th minute and 59th second Charlie simply withdrew his finger from the device! A new boy stepped in and the guillotine was triggered, everybody sighed with relief as the blade some how appeared to but didn’t remove the boys finger. I really enjoyed the show, some new material and scenarios, new atmospheric back ground music, excellent!’
Oh dear poor Charlie. (Actually I think it was Corrie but I had to ask his name a couple of times.)
There have been a few ‘Charlies’ in the history of my presentation of this routine, and a few who have copped out at the very last minute. By far the worst several years ago now was the one who wet himself in fear half way through the routine. I often worry about that little boy, now a young adult nursing an abject fear and anger directed towards all live performers and me in particular. Perhaps one day I shall be on top of the chairs and there he will be raising his sights on me…
It is part of the whole process of choosing the right child. Too blasé and confident and the effect loses vulnerability and tension. Too nervous and the audience and the child become worried, too worried. It ties neatly and beautifully into the ‘Benign..violation’ theory of comedy which was explained and demonstrated in the recent Horizon on Comedy hosted by Jimmy Carr (and really well worth a look, despite some slightly simplistic pseudo science from time to time). Pick the right boy (somehow never works quite as well with a girl – any clues as to why?) and the knife-edge balance of hopeful and assumed benignity and possible dreadful violation produces huge laughter reaction in the audience. The sharper I can hone that knife edge in the process the better but it does risk the kind of last-minute cop out described above.
I haven’t done that routine so much this year. It was lovely to meet up with it again. Like Ken Dodd’s jokes, my routines are my best friends and it’s great to meet and re-meet them again, sometimes after some years of hiding in some case or box in bowels of my trailer.
There have been a few of those revivals this year and the third show of the day has become their home. Another such was the Zombie routine. But more about that another time.
Meanwhile all the best from a very autumnal road near you,