Funz And Gamez Tooz | Review by Steve Bennett
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Funz And Gamez Tooz

Note: This review is from 2015

Review by Steve Bennett

After their unexpected award-winning cult success last year, the FAGZ team of Phil Ellis, Bonzo The Dog and Jim the Elf are and back ‘to ruin all the goodwill with an inferior sequel’.

It is, thankfully, nothing of the sort – with another hour of high-octane chaos, mercilessly teasing the children while cracking gags that go well over their heads.

The changes? Well for starters it’s in Assembly’s Bosco tent, a perfect venue as you can get a clear view of a child’s confused face wherever they are. After the bitterness of his divorce last year, Ellis’s character has a new – much younger – girlfriend, an aspect that’s left a bit underdeveloped here. And, of course, Uncle Mick died at the end of last year’s show, so has been replaced by another desperate, deranged alcoholic…

But that’s about it. Otherwise the premise is the same; that Ellis cheats his way to victory over the little ‘uns; there are worryingly inappropriate songs and interludes, the whole shebang teeters on the precipice of falling apart – and all the while retaining an edge that most kids’ shows don’t. In fact the only real misstep is when they go down a traditional route, with a fart gag

Ellis strikes a brilliant balance between mucking about and keeping the show on track. He’s a postmodern cheesy gameshow host, flailing his gangly legs around with exaggerated dances (while wearing fetchingly glittery disco platform soles), belting out songs and getting stuck in to the games. It requires some impressive improv skills, given the unpredictability of the children, and here he excels, shutting them down with gags perfectly pitched across the generations.

And on this afternoon’s show the pint-sized participants in games such as hide and seek and pin the tail on the donkey proved as deviously cunning as Ellis, hilariously matching his cheating with their own and adding to the barely contained pandemonium.

Ellis gives the audience an occasional ‘what the hell are we doing here?’ glance, which go with his under-his-breath putdowns and adult references to the likes of Dexter, which keep the adult majority satisfied. For there are strong written gags, too, it’s not all about the ad-libs

Bonzo The Dog (Will Duggan) remains stoically deadpan, frustrated that he can’t show off his performance range stuck behind a keyboard in a dog collar, while Jim (Meehan) The Elf attends to a lot of housekeeping, both for the show and even stage management, wiping up the many spillages, and lobbing in the occasional ad lib.

Mick Ferry returns as Uncle Mick Rick, for a brilliantly aggressive set piece involving a shopping trolley, while Mat Ewins is the Num-Bear, teaching the kids their arithmetic, and possibly a few other things besides.

The whole thing just exudes joyous high spirits, so it’s not just the children who emerge overexcited from a show that could be described as a Tiswas for the 21st Century – or a lawsuit waiting to happen. Either way, Funz And Gamez Tooz certainly livez up to itz title.

Review date: 20 Aug 2015
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Assembly George Square

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