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Alex Lasarev: Illegal Import
England didn't want another Canadian, but Lasarev was determined to stay. Experience his anarchic deportation from bewildering the police, and surviving prison meat products, to getting free plane tickets home
Original Review:Being deported was the best thing to happen to Alex Lasarev. Before that, he was just another cocky comic trying to grab some attention – which he usually did by shouting. But now he’s got a proper story to tell.
Because it turns out that all the while he was trying to climb up comedy’s greasy pole, he was doing so illegally. As a Canadian, he needed a working visa to perform here – yes, even unpaid – which he never had. Instead, he managed to talk his way through Immigration each time he entered the country with tales of visiting friends.
But once – after an ill-advised trip to Portugal in pursuit of a woman – he was rumbled. Not by some elite surveillance operation, but by Google. A suspicious immigration officer just ran his name through the internet and discovered he was performing when he shouldn’t have been.
He was booted out, but the scheming Lasarev found a way to sneak back. However three months later, after another stupid excursion out of the UK, he was caught out again, and this time for serious: cells, detention centres, driven in a cage to his deportation, the lot.
It’s a journey no one in his audience will ever have undergone – unless they, too, found another way back into the UK – and concerns a subject high on the political agenda, even though the first-hand experiences of genuine illegal immigrants are hardly ever heard in the media. How could it not be interesting?
And Lasarev can tell a story. He’s animated in his delivery when need be, but also able to step back and allow a change in pace. A couple of neatly-inserted callbacks and a driving narrative also keep things entertaining. The only thing his tale lacks – as he freely admits – is a conclusive ending, but then real life’s not as tidy as that. He just sauntered off the plane in Canada, and, well, that was that…
It’s probably fair to say Lasarev’s encounter with the Immigration Service isn’t exactly typical: he’s white, speaks English and compared to some Yardie ne’er-do-well, a smart-arse Canuck is probably the least of an immigration officer’s problems.
So his brief experiences of being banged up are more Porridge than The Shawshank Redemption, and he entertains by simply telling us how it was to be in such strange circumstances, fairly unembellished. Although as a comic with the requisite one-track-mind, whatever befell him, he was always comforted by the thought: ‘There’s material in this…’
It’s not crack-a-rib hilarious, but simply an interesting story, well told. In fact, the show only falters when Lasarev tries too hard to inject jokes, such as an awkward preamble unrelated to this tale, or his routine about ridiculous things he kept asking his warder for over his cell’s emergency intercom, stretching the premise too long, and over too many silly items. There’s a good reason comedy lists are compiled in accordance with the ‘rule of three’ rather than the ‘rule of 47’.
Truth is more engrossing than fiction; and Illegal Import works because it’s a real story, well told. Oh, and in case you’re wondering Lasarev is now legally back in the country, work permit and all.
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
'...compared to some Yardie ne’er-do-well, a smart-arse Canuck is probably the least of an immigration officer’s problems....' Jesus this is a bit, ummmm, what\'s the word...racist...?! 'Yardie ne\'er-do-well\'??!!! And given the issues with Russian and Eastern European immigration, I think you should revise your opinion that anybody with white skin is automatically less problematic that those who are black. C'mon - you can do better than this. Let\'s not get carried away with the 'I can say anything these days as long as I'm being a bit ironic' thing.
The funniest stand up I saw this year He is very easy going, easy to listen to, easy to laugh at and with. I loved the prison wind-ups best (even told others about that bit!). A very enjoyable night.
One of the shows that I picked on a whim at the last minute, brilliant, he has a great warm stage presence made my night! Definitely one of the lesser known comedy acts that makes a good night out.
Alex bribed us into coming to the show. Was just minding our own business, finishing our pints, when this meek little beanie-hatted Canadian came along to try and convince us of his comic worth. Glad he did though. Fifty minutes of comedy that hit the spot more often than not. Particularly enjoyed the Prison Guard wind-ups. Appreciated the experiments with material in the opening segment as well. I think he won the majority of the small crowd over to his cause... despite the odd 'turd in your pint' moment. Has a delivery and phrasing similar to Bill Hicks in his pomp, now just needs a little more material. Nice touch that he thanked his audience individually as we left.
Mimi is talking @~*% and clearly has no sense of humour. Alex is extraordinarily funny (not a legend but may be some day...). Clearly a theatrical agent can work many wonders. I laughed my ass of during the show and am beginning to wonder if Mimi even watched the bloody thing. Alex deserves a listen and time will tell whether he has the longevity and talent to survive in the business. As it stands, I am more than happy to have paid the money to see him talk. Go see him - he makes me laugh.
If he had been deported, why is he back in the country? Surely if you have been deported you are not allowed back for about 5 years? The show consists of the trumped up lies of a tosser.