Frank Sanazi's Comedy Bunker at the 2010 Brighton Fringe

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

Another victim of Brighton’s merciless Freerange venue, Frank Sanazi’s Comedy Bunker should, indeed, have taken place in some claustrophobic subterranean hideout, rather than this chilly modern big top, with its imperfect acoustics and size far too cavernous for this audience of 60 or so. Almost all of the acts deserved better than they got from the both literally and metaphorically cold crowd.

Mr Sanazi himself is a one-joke creation, but it’s an inspired gag and expertly executed, if that’s not a bad choice of word given that the premise is that he’s Adolf Hitler, singing in the style of Frank Sinatra. He sometimes sings as part of the Iraq Pack of crooning despots, including the likes of Saddamy Davis Jr, but tonight he goes it alone.

He’s a more-than decent impersonator of Ole Blue Eyes (the Aryan ideal for iris colour, of course), even if the rewritten lyrics are often pedestrian. There are some much better gags in the banter, especially a deliciously shameless swastika pun, and while a couple of the ideas you may have heard from stand-ups before, they are given added impetus from being delivered by such an outlandish character.

During one link he’s joined by his daughter Nancy singing, predictably, Jack Boots Are Made For Walking, and while this isn’t the best interlude, it does at least give a new dimension to the core idea. The Sanazi premise would, I suspect, work better a self-contained variety show, with all jokes on-message, rather than trying to host an unrelated mixed bill such as this.

Still, stand-up Lewis Schaffer battled valiantly, even if he had to comment aloud on more than one occasion: ‘You’re not the right crowd for this.’ That may sound like passing the blame, but his indestructible American arrogance wasn’t taken with the irony required, even if there was some sympathy for his lack of understanding of our quaint British regionalism. He has some great lines, and the unbeatable New York cadence to deliver them with confidence, and could possibly have won over the room in different circumstances, given that the audience was warming to him by the end of his shortish set. But they were just a little too slow on the uptake.

Musical duo Moonfish Rumba look great in their elegantly dated three-piece suits, and sound just as good. But they waste this compelling presence with mediocre lyrics to all-too-obvious songs… a ditty about chlamydia, anyone? Their banter, too, seems too rehearsed as they trade simple jibes about one being bald and the other looking like the guys from the 118 advert. They need more artistic ambititon.

The final guest was internet star Mr B, The Gentleman Rhymer, who’s pretty much the perfect variety turn. His act too, is based on one gag, and not all that original: cover versions of hip-hop classics, but rapped with his plummy English accent. Yet he does it brilliantly, looking like he’s just sauntered off the croquet field while his jaunty banjolele adds another twist of endearing silliness This is surely how Professor Higgins would be teaching elocution in the 21st Century.

Sadly, he suffered from the venue’s poor acoustics, and many of his fast rhymes were lost in the tent’s upper reaches. The joke might wear thin, but for ten minutes he is the perfect guest.

A burst, inevitably, of Frank Sanazi singing Mein Way brought the night to a close, and tomorrow, we march on Poland…

Review date: 9 May 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Brighton Freerange

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