What I brought to comedy was an authentic working-class voice plus a threat of genuine violence - nobody in Monty Python looked like a hard case who'd kick your head in
In 1971 comedians on the working men's club circuit imagined that they would be free to go on telling their tired, racist, misogynistic gags forever but their nemesis, a 19 year old Marxist art student with a bizarre concern for the health of British manufacturing was slowly coming to meet them.
Through the next decade Alexei Sayle would be a student at Chelsea Art School, a clerk in a DHSS office (where nobody did any work), one of London's bottom ten freelance illustrators, a school dinner lady and a college lecturer (who kidnapped his students), before he became the original MC of London's first modern comedy club, the Comedy Store, and the landscape of British comedy was altered forever.
Thatcher Stole My Trousers chronicles a time when comedy and politics came together in electrifying ways. Recounting the opening season of the Comedy Store, Alexei's experiences with Alternative Cabaret, the Comic Strip and the Young Ones, and his friendships with the comedians who, like him would soon become household names, this is a unique and beguiling blend of social history and memoir.
Fascinating, funny, angry and entertaining, it is a story of class and comedy, politics and love, fast cars and why it's difficult to foul a dwarf in a game of football.
About the Author
Born in Liverpool, the only child of Communist parents, Alexei moved to London in 1971 to attend Chelsea Art School. He became the first MC of the Comedy Store and later the Comic Strip. After years of stand-up, television, sitcoms, films and even a hit single, he published his first highly acclaimed collection of short stories. Barcelona Plates was followed by The Dog Catcher, two novels: Overtaken and The Weeping Women Hotel and a novella,Mister Roberts. The first volume of Alexei's memoirs was Stalin Ate My Homework.
Enlightening ... Funny, smart, original and provocative ... It is hard to imagine the stalwarts of Mock the Week recognising the Druze militia leader Walid Jumblatt in a London cinema ... Compared to today's comics and the unctuous 1970s Variety Club of Great Britain golf club elite, Sayle - baleful, menacing, intelligent - comes over as a bloke whose company one might seek out, whether he cared or not. He is a master of the flashing en passant insult. I laughed out loud * New Statesman *
Few standups have come close to capturing a fraction of this creative energy in a book ... Alexei Sayle is an exception ... The reader is left with a lesson so often imparted in the standup's foray into memoir: comedy is no laughing matter * Guardian, Book of the Day *
I devoured the first chapters of Sayle's terrific second volume of memoirs ... Thatcher Stole My Trousers, but he changed my life **** * Mail on Sunday *
Thatcher Stole My Trousers deals with the birth of stand-up as we understand it in the UK ... I really, really enjoyed this, I thought it was brilliant ... Laugh-out-loud * Stewart Lee *
The inventor of alternative comedy * David Baddiel *
Comedy underwent seismic change in the 1980s, and Alexei Sayle was at the forefront of it ... Thatcher Stole My Trousers, is full of self-accusation, pratfalls, memories of idiocy and delusion, all built up for comic effect. But about his debut he is deadly serious: he knows he helped change the tone of British comedy. He blazed a trail for a new generation of punkish comic violence (such as The Young Ones) and politically engaged stand-up, that consigned to oblivion the old gag-merchants; he effectively silenced the humour of mothers-in-law, tits, arses, Pakis, micks and poofs * Independent *
An unexpected delight. All those lefty stand-up comedians who monopolise the funny stuff now: their style started with Alexei Sayle and his comrades of the 1980s ... It is not packed with one-liners. It is much funnier than that ... Observant and wry * Independent *
Sayle relates an endless stream of entertaining anecdotes ... An affectionate account of a group of performers who transformed British comedy * Sunday Times *
An interesting social history here as comedy and politics come together in the late 1970s and his work with The Comic Strip and The Young Ones takes centre stage. It's fascinating to watch Sayle battle with his principles * Observer *
Alternative comedy's erstwhile ranter-in-chief has mellowed with age but expect a few residual flecks of spleen * Daily Telegraph *
The granddaddy of alternative comedy... Takes potshots at the establishment and his comrades. Laced with his trademark corrosive wit * Shortlist *
This century he has reinvented himself as a writer. A good one too. Thatcher Stole My Trousers is a pleasure to read * Herald *
Brilliantly funny * Waitrose Weekend *
A combative return for a pioneer of alternative comedy ... Anarchic * Yorkshire Post *