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Simon Munnery: Fringe 2012

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

If stars were given for innovation alone, Simon Munnery would easily be taking home the full constellation.  However, he hasn’t yet shaped his hugely inventive idea of presenting live films (or ‘fylms’) into a fully consistent hour of comedy, despite some beautiful moments.

Munnery never appears on stage. Instead he sits at a desk in the audience, rigged up so he can project either his face, or what’s on the table in front of him, on to the screen. As he notes, this makes him the first comedian ever to watch his show in the same way as the audience does.

This set-up allows him to create cardboard animations –  using the same state-of-the-art technology as a child’s pop-up book – right in front of the audience’s eyes. These lo-fi effects are a delight, especially in his inventive low-budget solutions to how to portray difficult scenes such as the fast-cut posturing of two rival gunfighters.

The witty sketches have their own live soundtrack, thanks to Mick Moriarty and his guitar, and occasionally Munnery creating a near-rap, thanks to a loop pedal. Who would have foreseen him edging into Reggie Watts territory?

Munnery is clearly enjoying himself with his new toys. The presentation of the films requires concentration and dexterity, but between times he plays around with the kit, just seeing what he can do with it. When he realises the full potential of the unique presentation he has invented, this show will be as magical as it is unique.

A few older bits of material are revived: the inherent contradictions of Frank Carson, or the Venn diagram that shows Munnery’s place in both comedy and modern art. Plus the titular song from his previous show, Hats Off To The 101ers gets a new lease of life thanks to the enchanting animation. Although a tribute to an airship disaster is hardly going to have people chuckling away, it’s charmingly sweet.

Less successful is his short film Rubbish Day (prerecorded on cameras, the old fashioned way)  in which a small army of wheelie bins assemble in the countryside. It smacks of film-school project and Munnery is slightly apologetic about it – confessing it took him a year to make and is showing it here as he doesn’t know what else to do with it, and it does give him chance for a fag break. But while he’s out the room, he can’t see how uninterested everyone is in this pet project.

That lull aside, the show is peppered with the dryly aphoristic one-liners that are Munnery’s trademark, perfect little nuggets of jokes bound together by the superglue of his logic.

So even though the show is inconsistent, with Munnery finding his feet as a Fylm-Makker, it comes recommended for its originality of thinking.

Review date: 21 Aug 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Stand 1

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