ALEXEI SAYLE : Cak! (1982)

And now... a rather drastic change of pace. It's probably a symptom of encroaching old age but, having grown up in the 1980s with The Young Ones & The Comic Strip on VHS repeat, I still find Alexei Sayle's early routines sporadically hilarious. Cak!, recorded live at London's Le Hot Club De Cairo, was released in 1982 by short lived comedy label Springtime (they also put out Amnesty's Secret Policeman's Ball recordings & The Comic Strip's LP), & old farts will recognise large portions of it from Sayle's weekly appearances on The Young Ones, wherein he played various members of the deranged Bawolski family. However, it's interesting to hear it here, incorporated into an unexpurgated late night club set rather than conveniently chopped up/toned down for post-Watershed (just!) BBC2. Am not sure what your average 20 year old would make of it nowadays though, particularly the surfeit of Shirley Williams jokes!

On reflection, it's difficult to disagree with "alternative" comedy's initial detractors, who dismissed most it as little more than a lot of obscene shouting, but much of Sayle's early material has retained it's splenetic bite. Strip away the acerbic Scally accent & the too-tight suits & his comedic debt to the suburban surreality of Spike Milligan (albeit injected with a generous dose of unforgiving political cynicism, & with the substitution of Benito Mussolini for Adolf Hitler) & early Python becomes apparent. His subsequent, marginally more sophisticated Emmy-winning TV series Stuff still inspires very fond memories for me, as does the brilliant, alarmingly underrated - & totally forgotten - Paris sitcom. The latter, a 1994 C4 vehicle for Sayle written by Graham Linehan & Arthur Matthews (Father Ted, Black Books, Big Train, The IT Crowd, Hippies), still hasn't been released on DVD - outrageous!!


  1. A genius for sure. Anyone of a certain age will never forget the 'here's Jerzi' coke swigging, axe wielding maniac.

    You've definitely nailed his influences and, along with the Sven Hassel novels, Spike's war memoirs were essential reading for Seventies school kids...

  2. I think I might've been the only 10 year old to pass on Sven Hassel's novels when they did the 'rounds! I bought this beauty for 50p a while back though...


    ...am rather looking forward to pulling it out on the bus to work!

  3. Why did you have to post that? I'm getting an unnatural urge to search out the set on eBay...

    SS General was my favourite - I put it down to the superior uniforms!


  4. Sven Hassel cover gallery in the offing, perhaps?

  5. Hi! Huge fan of Sayle, and a recent revisit of "The Young Ones" got me hungering for more. Any chance of a re-up on this rare artifact? Thanks in advance!


  6. Bear with me Pernt, Cak! is no longer on my hard drive so I need to scurry off and thumb through stacks of poorly filed CD-Rs... ;)

  7. I'm a patient man... any thing you can do is appreciated. Thanks for writing back!