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Simon Munnery, no support

Miss Fliss 12/06/2009

I was laughing at Simon Munnery before he'd even taken to the stage. From the window of the Junction bar, my bloke and I could see Simon nipping out for a smoke. Faced with what looked like an attempt at art in the form of a metal cage containing neatly arranged blocks of coloured rock, Simon looked alarmed at the sight, he started poking the cage and the rocks inside, trying to solve his confusion, work out what the hell this curious thing was. It was the bumbling stumbling sort of way he approached the structure that had us in stitches. Bless him. He cuts quite an interesting figure in his great long Robin Hood shade of green coat, square glasses, and hat, with his scrunched up eyes too.

I was first aware of Simon Munnery when he did his brilliant Alan Parker: Urban Warrior (all Clash t-shirts and right-on Citizen Smith politics) on TV. Older and wiser now, his stand-up comedy is a different proposition. To me, the appeal of Munnery as a comedian lies not specifically in his jokes or ability to muster chuckle, but his eandearing personality. There's something sort of sweet in his bumbling stuttering tentative deliveries. His shows feel unplanned and improvised to the point where towards the end, he might run out of steam and turn a little pleadingly to the audience for inspiration. This kind of comedy gig feels honest, free of ego and pretension and lofty ambition. There're moments when he quietly recites a list of the gags he's already done, as if he's thinking aloud and ticking off a mental checklist, you can see the mechanics of his mind at work, instead of orderliness and preparation.

This was my second time seeing Simon in Cambridge (also saw him last Summer as part of the Cambridge comedy festival at the university. 1.85 a pint, a good night!). I was glad that the bulk of material was new. I did appreciate repeat performance of his spot-on painful gurning impression of the annoyingly voiced Bob Dylan, perfectly encapsulating his intonations and the woeful lady-wooing lyrics he so often has. Sherlock Holmes made a ranting mad appearance, taking drugs and shouting the word "Science" over and over in every conceivable manner. The old deft aubergine sketch made a re-appearance too.

I like his wry way of questioning the crowd: Is anyone here from...anywhere? It was nice hearing about the domestic Munnery, building boats in the countryside just outside of Bedford. He was also candid about his family, and talked at length about parenthood, although this went on a bit long. He was candid about how he damaged his hand (he can't straighten it out flat any longer), which was sad but he proved he could make light of things and laugh about illness and even death. There was some good teasing of Dawkins, and a deflated Richard Dawkins puppet talked a load of lofty nonsense, pretty much concluding with Simon pointing out that Dawkins first came up with his God Delusion theory at the age of 7 and perhaps he might have wanted to re-assess it when he became an adult.

I won't quote all the jokes back as they can never stand up on paper as they can when Simon puts all his oddball personality into things. Amongst all else I've said, there's something of the Billy Bragg about him. Aside from that, a self-confessed "total idiot", he's a really endearing oddball, constantly self-effacing, and heartwarmingly funny and sharply intelligent (something rare in stand-up comedy) with it, like no other.

Simon Munnery's official site