Simon Munnery: Annual General Meeting 2007

Note: This review is from 2007

Review by Steve Bennett

Simon Munnery is to the Fringe what the ravens are to the Tower Of London; his very presence reassuring us that all is well with the world of comedy.

Of course, as he’s gradually attaining elder statesmen status, chores like writing new material are beneath him – it’s the Arthur Smith way – and the show is now two parts back catalogue, two parts experimental whimsy, and just one part new stuff.

Any Fringe-goer of any experience already knows whether they are fans of Munnery or not, so a review is mostly redundant. But for the 2007 AGM, he starts off with a more conventional stand-up set, talking about how he whiles away afternoons playing pool down his local, or checking out suitable schools for his children. His devotees listen patiently at his feet, as if he were a comedic swami, though there’s nothing much funny in what he says.

But there are always going to be things in a Simon Munnery show that you will never encounter anywhere else. He has an innovation every day, literally, and today’s saw him having his haircut as he delivered Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle in the form of verse. That will probably never catch on at Jongleurs.

‘I’ve got a new joke,’ he proudly proclaims. ‘What a year it’s been!’

And it is indeed a might fine joke, about marriage vows, as smart, incisive and funny as his finest – and delivered with a fanfare befitting the word of god, albeit a comedy one. There’s also a whole new routine pickily taking issue with John Lennon’s Imagine, and a new character, a perverted professor muttering a distracted lecture about feminist studies, peppered with deliciously misogynistic one-liners, tongue very much in cheek.

For the finale, we’re back to the classics, reading many of his taut, superlative gags from the good book; knowledgeable teachings made palatable through a series of almost proverb-like jokes. Followers will be able to mouth along with them, but plenty of punters react as if they’ve never heard them before, which is good news if he’s trying to expand his flock.

I say this is the finale, but like any good messianic figure, Munnery is not constrained by mortal concerns, such as the timeslot his venue actually schedules for him. After the show ends, he is born again in a pub or some other venue, to address the ‘motions’ – some might say prayers – that his devotees ask of him.

But though he may be godlike in his presence and artistic ambition, Munnery is certainly very human when it comes to putting the effort in, always happy to coast on his reputation for at least some of the show. It is, however, a reputation that’s been hard won, and everyone needs to see the AGM at least every other year…

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2007
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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