Alexei Sayle is a comedian, author and writer who was a central part of the British alternative comedy scene in the 1980s. His comedy is often surreal whilst dealing with, particularly of late, political issues. Alexei has recently returned to stand up but is still probably most remembered as one of the creators, writers and performers of the BBC series ‘The Young Ones’.
I think we do live in the future now.
On earliest memories of science
I was in a lot of trouble at school and I had to write out Boyle’s Law 25 times so I can remember Boyle’s Law. Boyle’s Law states that the current flowing through a conductor is proportionate to the potential difference between intense provided physical conditions such as temperature remain constant. I have no idea what that means but, you know, I know it.
I use science in that the microphones are powered by electricity and the chairs are made of plastic but I’m not…I failed; I think I did an O level called Physics with Chemistry and I failed miserably so I’m not…I can't say that I qualify as one of those science people, but I think I just started doing it because I’d become divorced from other comedy and Robin [Ince] was one of the first people that I got to know of a kind of slightly younger generation and so I was very excited. The first time I came to one of these things, I was running up and down the stairs and mixing with the younger people and it seemed like a nice, interesting thing to do.
I think we do live in the future now, really, with microcircuits and computers and stuff. When I was growing up, really, even the present was the past - even the futuristic things were powered by valves - but now everything is remarkable, mobile phones and iPads and the internet, its all great, I think it’s great, these people that say it isn’t, I think they’re wrong, its all great, science.
On science in politics
I suppose science and left wing politics are such good bedfellows because it’s about rationality; if one typifies fanatical belief as being right wing then, you know, it’s the antithesis of that. I’m ambiguous about some aspects: they interviewed German scientists, nuclear scientists, after the war, there’d been a kind of assumption that they’d slowed down the development of the Nazi bomb, but they just hadn’t, you know, when they told them they went ‘Argh, if only we’d thought of that’. So sometimes I think scientists lack a moral framework and…I’m an animal rights activist and there’s obviously a callous and a utilitarian, I'm not sure if thats the right word, but a callous aspect to animals in a lot of medical experimentation which I find deeply repellent, so it’s not…I’ve changed my mind, everything about science is bad, we’d be much better off in a pre-Columbian tribal society.
On the destruction of society
If society crumbled right now, a high velocity 5.56 millimetre M4 carbine would be my choice of science device; if society goes down the gurgler, you know, a magazine, that would be my choice.