Skip to content


Viva Alf's Vegas
Published on Sunday, 07 July 2013

3 starsReviewed by Richard Stamp
Underground Venues
5 Jul 5:30pm to 6:30pm, 6 Jul 4pm to 5pm, 9 Jul 8:30pm to 9:30pm

“My name’s Alfie Moore, and I’m a compulsive gambler,” says the thick-set man walking onto the stage. It’s a surprising opening for a stand-up routine, but it proves a rich jumping-off point for an hour of gentle laughter, which tackles a handful of important topics in the context – so Moore says – of his own sometimes-poignant life story.

Moore’s a charismatic and thoroughly amiable presence; after just a few seconds in his company, I found myself unshakeably on his side.  He has a nice way with underplayed humour, too.  A few jokes were so subtle I was proud to have spotted them, while a few I saw coming from far too far away; some were groan-worthily creative, and some felt older than I am.  His material’s witty and barbed rather than laugh-aloud hilarious, yet it’s all delivered with confidence and natural charm.

It’s wise to be sceptical about comedians’ tales, but I think there’s a kernel of truth to Moore’s.  The gag count stays high throughout, but there’s a sense that he’s putting a brave face on; if you pause to think about what he’s saying, the jokes can only mask a great deal of pain.  It’s a style that I personally empathised with, but it felt too determinedly light-hearted – like the awkwardly blokeish conversations I’ve sometimes had when friends go through difficult times.  I wanted a bit more darkness, some moments of overt introspection in contrast to the laughs.

This may also be the only show I’ve ever seen which contains its own review.  As he runs wittily though the advice he was given by his director (ending, brilliantly, with a half-hearted compliment about his three-piece suit), Moore puts his finger on pretty much everything I’d jotted down in my own notebook.  The narrative’s a little disjointed, the themes could be brought out more strongly, and I’d have to suggest that he bottles it when the moment comes for a big emotional tug at the end.  On the day I attended he also spent a lot of time reading his crib-sheets – a fact which didn’t really spoil my enjoyment, but which I can’t entirely ignore.

So there’s a fair bit of work to do on this show, but I think it could be a great one; it’s just that it’s not quite ready yet.  When it comes together properly, there’ll be a lot still to laugh about, and it’ll have a real heft as well.  There are some serious points to ponder in there, including a few well-judged forays into politics, and it sheds some shafts of light on issues that are often hidden in darkness.  But when all’s said and done, Alfie, I quite simply liked you – which for this type of show, counts great deal.  And you do look good in a three-piece suit.

<< Patchwork Lives


These are archived reviews of shows from Buxton 2013.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.