Analysis of Al Murray: The Art of Personality

I'm excited to be writing this blog, just a few weeks after I had the chance to spend some time with Al backstage at a The Princes Hall in Aldershot. I even got to sit in the wing and observe the show from the side. What you see on stage with Al, is a carefully thought through, yet combined with skill-fully ad libbed moments of his character, 'The Pub Landlord'.

What fascinates me most about Al is that this character has been years in the making, and is quite the opposite of the Al I met backstage. (A genuinely nice guy who was super helpful as I picked his brains about his ability to ad lib huge laughs from some simple direct questions!) 

You might be wondering why I've chosen a character act to help us think about communication. I believe there's lots we can learn from this and I've highlighted three points below.

Enjoy this clip of Al in action. 


Everything is BIG

The Pub Landlord is a big character. Full of charisma. Bold, brash and unashamed. I appreciate that you might not take the same approach in your business context - But what can we learn. 
The key to being an effective upfront communicator is to expand everything a little bit more than usual. 
Remain true to your own personality, but embellish and exaggerate it slightly. Turn up the intensity a little. Not so much that you become fake - but just enough to keep the room engaged. This increase of charisma should be reflected through your tone of voice, your hand gestures, the way you walk and stand. 
Increase your charisma a little. Be a little bigger. It helps to engage the room. 


Personality is visible 

The suit and the glass of beer define the personality of The Pub Landlord. Before he says a word, we know exactly what to expect, but more importantly, it's an image that sticks in our mind, long after the show. 
When I started out, I bought myself a number of colourful shirts. A few years in, I'd had a repeat booking and turned up in the same red shirt that I had worn previously. The client raised it in conversation - and all of a sudden, I had built part of my brand - I could almost hear it. One person telling another about a comedian they had seen - 'You know....It was the guy in the red shirt'.  It's been my staple PR piece ever since. I even framed my logo around it - and at nearly every gig, someone comments on it. 

Whilst you may not be building a stage character for your presentations, the art of great public speaking is also a personal branding exercise. What will people remember about YOU after the show. How will they be telling others about it. I once saw a corporate speaker whose use of powerpoint was extraordinary, like none other I've seen. I still tell people about him today because of his unique and incredible use of powerpoint. 



Call back

This point is not so much about 'character' but a skill in comedy that Al is superb at. He's brilliant at it because it's executed in a way that is in line with his character and the concept of the performance. 

It's standard amongst comedy professionals to try and work a 'call back' into your act. Referencing a comment you made earlier in the show, to get another laugh. In this video, we see Al go back to 'Pops' with another line, time and time again. In the full version of Al's performances, Al is a genius at this, making call back references throughout. 

I have a strong belief that not only does the audience laughter increase each time, but that they would be referencing 'Pops' in their conversations after the show. They'd be mimic'ing the line 'Alright Pops'. 

Call backs are not limited to use within comedy, but can enhance any presentation. Call back to a metaphor throughout. Call back to your one liner. Call back to those you've engaged. 

From Comedian to Communicator 

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