Reviews Edinburgh Published 17 August 2011

Simon Munnery

The Stand ⋄ 3rd - 29th August 2011

Man of many talents.

Colin Bramwell

Let me entertain you.

As the title of his show suggests, Simon Munnery’s Hats Off to the 101ers (and Other Material) is not a streamlined hour of stand-up, rather a series of unrelated monologues, poetry, songs, video clips, and anecdotes.

Most comedians adopt only one of these niches and stick to it, so it is a testament to his skill that this mish-mash approach is generally successful. This absence of structure might seem like laziness in other comedians, but it’s consistent with Munnery’s versatility. He could be described variously as a political, anecdotal, poetical, or musical comedian, but, interestingly, not an observational one , which is admirable as this is arguably the most popular form of stand-up these days. Kevin Eldon sent up this latter type of humour in his excellent act last year by spending a significant portion of time excitedly making a series of facile observations about shoes. One gets the sense that Munnery is Eldon’s idea of what a  comedian should be; an active analyst, rather than someone who merely observes and repeats.

Munnery does not deliver a series of quick, easy laughs; his humour is more subtle, more subject to interpretation. Impressively, he manages to achieve this without coming across as a smart-ass.  His audience somehow sound different to those at other stand-up shows in the way they vocalise their enjoyment – they laugh a lot, but there is an audible swell to it, as more people gradually begin to get the joke – you can almost hear the ‘click’ of comprehension.

His literary skill is perhaps where his greatest talent lies. He has a masterful grasp of wordplay and aphorisms, and his prose monologues were by turns brilliantly put and incredibly funny. Unfortunately, some of the musical numbers fell a little by the wayside. One routine – a dialogue between the two men crucified on either side of Jesus – eventually ended up becoming boring, but only in comparison to the brilliance of the earlier material. The audience seemed enraptured by his manner, which at points seemed curiously antiquated; reminiscent of an almost Johnsonian brand of Englishness. They were all firmly on his side, even during his less convincing routines.

While there were a few dips and wobbles in material, these were minor, forgiveable things, which had little real impact on the  many pleasures of being entertained by such a versatile, imaginative and intelligent performer.

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Colin Bramwell is a contributor to Exeunt Magazine

Simon Munnery Show Info


Produced by Show and Tell

Link http://showandtelluk.com/

Running Time 1 hr

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