Mr Methane: Thunderbum Is Go

Note: This review is from 2005

Review by Steve Bennett

Alongside your Bill Baileys, Ross Nobles and Daniel Kitsons, there’s another, less-celebrated act proudly flying the flag for Britain here in Melbourne: Mr Methane.

If this very peculiar novelty act has passed you by – well, he’s a Petomane. Or fart artist. He breaks wind, on demand, in tune and in time. It’s a rare skill, something to do with yoga and diaphragm control, but hardly one you can get a City & Guilds in.

Double entendres naturally abound in the build-up his act. He’s the original Lord of the rings, those in the front row have ringside seats, and so forth. All kind of obvious, but equally endearing and irresistible

But Knockabout banter is not what Mr Methane, a gangly former train driver from Macclesfield, is about. He’s almost entirely free of charisma, with a patter as dry as a Taliban tavern. For all the seriousness with which he treats his subject, he might as well be giving an Open University lecture about plate tectonics as announcing he’s about to fart along to Manfred Mann.

The fact he’s so coy in acknowledging his act is such a load of ridiculous guff (literally) only adds to the fun, of course – even being dressed in a garish lime-green and purple superhero’s outfit that even the Fathers4Justice campaigners would shun is treated as absolutely nothing out of the ordinary.

And as for his unique talent, well you’d have to have a heart of stone not to instinctively laugh at a ‘colon cough’. For all the sophisticated, intelligent comedy in the world, there is nothing as funny as a man breaking wind. Indeed, sophisticated, intelligent comic Stewart Lee has a routine about that very fact. And although bodily functions might be considered a particularly British source of mirth, appealing to our repressed nature as much as saucy postcards or Carry On films, Mr Methane’s international tour dates suggests the botty burp travels remarkably well.

He even manages to have a decent stab at making a full show of his simple, if unique, talent. Although with the best will in the world an hour of this is stretching more than just his sphincter.

So as well as tunefully accompanying everything from Madness’s Driving In My Car to an overture from Swan Lake – talk about novelty ring tones - we also get a number of set pieces. There’s an ‘unplugged’ rendition to prove his act is not prerecorded; he breaks wind through talcum powder to produce a visible guff Johnny Fartpants himself would be proud of; and the elaborate finale involves a blowpipe, dart and balloon – I’m sure you don’t need a diagram.

Ludicrous, stupid, brainless nonsense, every last minute of it. But you have to laugh, it’s the basic, reflex response that’s been genetically handed down from the caveman.

Well, you know what they say: all good comedy comes from the gut, so no wonder Mr Methane always comes up trumps. (Sorry, I’ll get me coat…)

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Melbourne, April 2005

Review date: 1 Jan 2005
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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