Alfie Moore: I Predicted A Riot

Note: This review is from 2013

Review by Steve Bennett

In the early days of politically charged alternative comedy, you might have found a few comedians in the melee of a protest, but it would have been unthinkable for any of them to have been on the police side of the riot shields.

But now stand-up’s gone legit, and it’s left to an actual copper, Alfie Moore, to offer a rare first-hand insight into the riots of August 2011, in contrast to all the armchair punditry to be heard on the circuit.

Those events were the obvious theme for his latest show, I Predicted A Riot, in which the avuncular comic reinforces his growing reputation as an astute social commentator and witty storyteller.

His unique standpoint is an instant advantage, and his revelations about how the target-driven culture imposed by politicians lead to the massaging of figures only confirms your worst suspicions. As he points out, it’s much easier to cut recorded crime by focussing on the ‘recorded’ part than on the ‘cutting crime’ part.

Equally astute are his observations that the riots got more out of hand than necessary because of restraints on police budgets. No wonder MPs think coppers are ‘plebs’ if they keep highlighting inconvenient truths such as this.

Politically, Moore – who’s now on sabbatical from the Humberside force to pursue his comedy career – is very savvy. On one hand he appeals to those on the right calling for a return to ‘back-t0-basics’, good old fashioned policing. But away from crime, he’s as liberal as they come, favouring, for example, gay marriage.

‘I’m in a same-sex marriage myself,’ he says. ‘It’s too a woman, but the sex is always the same.’

Because for all the serious points about policing that he makes with wry humour, the spirit of the music hall is rarely far away, and he sells his cheesy gags with glee. It leads to the odd diversion he doesn’t need to take – such as the section about ‘political correctness gone mad’, which has its moments but feels rather dated – but generally his spirit of levity is welcome.

Save for a few moments where Moore seems to lose his place (odd, since he’s been doing this show for nearly a year), the show hops nimbly between the sublime and the ridiculous. Occasionally the humour stops for a serious point, and vice-versa, but the mix is about right.

Although always good, Moore’s at his best with the real-life anecdotes, especially those infused with the gallows humour you might expect to accompany such a job. His closing story, about a disembodied head that showed up on a riverbank, is a brilliantly funny yarn full of slapstick and the grim humour, that comes from the conflict between the unyielding organisational bureaucracy of the police, and the ‘seen-it-all-before’ officers actually on the ground.

All the jokes about his ‘arresting’ style have been done before; but Moore delivers a witty and fascinating show that leaves you with a lot of sympathy for the policeman’s lot.

Review date: 9 Jan 2013
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Soho Theatre

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