Simon Munnery's AGM

Note: This review is from 2004

Review by Steve Bennett

There are some painful times in Simon Munnery's AGM when you fear that being in a genuine shareholders' meeting might actually provide more laughs.

Creating a palpable sense of unease seems to be his stock-in-trade these days, as he meanders down blind alleys of ideas, more to entertain himself with the thrill of the exploration than to make the audience laughs.

Of course, he's got enough brilliant, intelligent one-liners in bank to be able to save himself from almost any impending comic catastrophe, which is a good job given that he does like to take the show to the very brink of collapse time and time again.

Even the surefire jokes, though, are delivered with such a casual insouciance that you suspect he's reluctant to rely on something so tired as an actual joke to break the awkward ennui that's built up.

Munnery, of course, is more than aware how loose the show is. "There's not a destination, just enjoy the journey," he says before embarking on yet another aborted train of thought about his moral stance on counterfeiting.

He's a man of ideas, the bigger the better, and his best moments condense these into a quotable bon mot. But on the detail, he's more hazy. At one point, we have a long and pointless digression about Paula Radcliffe, who he's never heard of despite her appearing on the front page of almost every paper that day for failing to complete the Athens marathon.

It's one of the few moments of audience interaction, as the mood is generally too uptight to encourage any form of banter, with all Munnery's questions plunging unanswered into silence.

Punters are better when given the chance to submit their own observations, ideas and suggestions in written form. After an unnecessarily long break (continuing a good ten minutes after everyone was back in their seats, facing the stage), Munnery returns to discuss these contributions.

Here the show picks up, partly because Munnery perks up with the challenge of improvising, and rises well to it, and partly because the audience have provided some good lines themselves.

This is one of two shows Munnery's performing at the Fringe this year. My advice: see the other one.

Review date: 1 Jan 2004
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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