Alexei Sayle is an English stand-up comedian, actor, and author, best known for his influential work in the alternative comedy movement in the 1980s. He played several members of the Eastern European family the Balowskis in The Young Ones, and has hosted his own shows including Alexei Sayle's Stuff, Alexei Sayle's The Absence of Normal, and Alexei Sayle's Imaginary Sandwich Bar
Alexei Sayle was born and raised in Anfield, Liverpool, by two parents who were members of the Communist Party of Great Britain. Educated at Alsop high School in Walton, he was eventually expelled halfway through sixth form, and attended both Chelsea College of Art and Design in London and Garnet College, Roehampton.
In 1979 Sayle by chance responded to an advert in Private Eye for would-be comedians and became the first master of ceremonies at the newly-opened Comedy Store. The year after, comedy producer Martin Lewis saw Sayle perform at the Edinburgh Fringe and became his manager.
Shortly after, Sayle became the principal performer at the Comic Strip, appearing on The Comic Strip Album and The Comic Strip Presents..., notably playing the two leading roles in "Didn't You Kill My Brother?", which he co-wrote with David Stafford and Pauline Melville. He also played several roles including Vampire and 'Mussolini' Policeman on the much-loved BBC sitcom The Young Ones, for which he also wrote material. He was known here for a distinctly mordant, no-holds-barred approach to comedy, with a forceful, vociferous delivery style.
In this century he has appeared on several episodes of panel shows such as The News Quiz and Have I Got News For You. In 2016 he hosted his own stand-up series, featuring a mixture of stand-up, memoir, and philosophy, on BBC Radio 4. Running for 3 series, it was called Alexei Sayle's Imaginary Sandwich Bar. In 2019 he returned to the platform with Alexei Sayle's The Absence Of Normal, a comedy drama featuring absurd and entertaining stories told by Sayle himself.
He has also appeared regularly on the informal chat-shows Chain Reaction and Alan Davies: As Yet Untitled. In 1990, a fatwa was issued against him by a Muslim cleric from Syria after a joke on his BBC comedy how [c]Alexei Sayle's Stuff] (1988[/y]-1991[/y]). To date, this has not been withdrawn.
Alongside a role in the 1992 Carry On film, Carry On Columbus, Sayle has given his name to the title of many of his own programmes, including The All New Alexei Sayle Show and ALexei Sayle's Merry-Go-Round.
Clearly drawing inspiration from the likes of Spike Milligan and Monty Python, Sayle's comedy is characterised by political cynicism, pessimism, dark turns, and several absurd and surrealist premises that go on for several minutes.
- Thursday 7th August 1952 (68 years-old)
Non-comedy TV and film credits might be found here:
Alexei Sayle on IMDb