Matt Panesh is Monkey Poet: A poet who runs out of poems after half an hour. Admittedly it was his first show and he apologised for it having been somewhat ad hoc, so I’ll ignore the fact that the show is advertised as ‘Stand-up poetry from a multi-award winning simian’. There was some poetry and it was quite good. In addressing the reputation with which the art form comes burdened, Panesh recognised the niche of his market – and at his best he comes across as an excellent representative. He is animated and friendly, warmly welcoming anyone who arrives and fancies a seat. He reels off poems with a clear zest for the medium and doesn’t shy away from taboo topics in a frank and often charming way. The poems come thick and fast - as much small pieces of theatre as they are poetry - articulately written and engaging to watch. He was, overall, a strong live presence.
So why didn’t he stop when he had exhausted his supply of verse – or at least that amount of verse which he thought us deserving of without paying a tenner for the book he kept touting? “I’ve run out of poems”, he says with twenty-five minutes to go – and the audience dutifully laugh. Only, he wasn’t joking.
What followed was just under half an hour – I know this because he kept checking with a member of the audience – of stories about funny questions he’d asked previous audiences, stories about funny answers he’d had from previous audiences, accounts of his teenage sexual experiences, his experiences with drugs, his experiences with posh people, his grandparents’ experiences, the peddling of his own political agenda, promotion of his book, promotion of his other show, celebration of those who put him up last year… Everything but jokes, or at least those discernible from self-congratulation. All the while he waited for audience input - less, it felt, because he could play off it, more because he needed future material. This review will probably suffice: he mentioned a two-star review he received last year and it satisfied me to know that this will probably constitute at least twenty minutes of next week’s set.
Matt Panesh is Monkey Poet, a poet who won’t share his poems with you and a comic who isn’t particularly funny.