The Man of Mystery comes on stage looking like something out of a classic James Bond film: strong jawline, handsome stubble and a black turtleneck — topped off with an orange shirt, which, admittedly, is a little less secret agent, but very 80s cool nonetheless. He looks sultrily at the front row, pouting, winking at the odd punter, licking his lips; and then, reaching into his sleeve, he pulls out a plastic carrier bag. Yeah.
It’s all intentionally shoddy, and wilfully bonkers.
That pretty much sums up The Incredible Man of Mystery. He’s the eight year-old messing around in his bedroom, fully convinced for a brief, glorious moment that he's the suavest being on the planet as he crashes around his house. Surrounded by a collection of typical household objects, Jody Kamali (the man behind the Man) jump kicks his way across the stage, bounces off walls, and performs intentionally godawful magic tricks — all set to classic 80s montage music.
The Man of Mystery shares the stage with a version of Kamali himself, who talks about his days growing up as an awkward teen in Bristol. We learn something of the Man of Mystery’s origin story; about how Kamali idolised David Copperfield, and wanted to amaze people in the same way, to achieve the same standard of cool.
Kamali’s show, however, is something a lot stranger than magic. He falls in love with an ironing board dressed as a woman, has a child with said ‘woman’, tames a punter in a lion mask live on stage and, in a hilarious highlight, reminisces about seductive, sensual chocolate adverts in the 90s. His plastic bag routine also returns from his previous shows, and is a stupidly silly treat. The faux-sincerity with which he plays keepy uppy and performs tricks with this mundane prop is weirdly funny.
It’s all intentionally shoddy, and wilfully bonkers. At best, it’s zany fun, but there are truthfully too many chunks of the show which don’t really work; the weirdness isn’t always as funny as it needs to be. Kamali is a kind of Icarus of intentionally bad comedy — beautiful while he soars, but, overreaching himself, he comes crashing down into the waves more often than not.