‘Very, very, very, very funny, literally rib shattering, deeply profound and seemingly inane - also overwhelmingly pink.’ This is the description that Simon Munnery states he wants to appear in the reviews for his new show Fylm. Its inclusion here is both a way of honouring that wish and a way of shamefully stealing Munnery’s jokes with a sense of moral legitimacy. For Fylm is precisely as Munnery describes it, but it is also much more.
Returning to the format of last year’s highly successful and critically lauded show Fylm-Makker, Munnery once again performs stand-up while not standing up, while not even being onstage. Instead Munnery sits in the middle of his audience by a small box that resembles a photograph booth but without the perfunctory decorum of a curtain. From this control point Munnery projects an image of his face and hands onto a screen that occupies the traditional performer’s space onstage. What we then watch is a live stream of sketches, songs and jokes linked together solely by the charm and wit of Munnery himself.
The question is can Munnery’s material keep up with this stylistic innovation? I can confirm quite simply that yes, yes it does. Munnery’s style, which rests as much on the visual as the spoken word, is peculiarly perfect for the format. It is impossible to imagine any other comedian pulling it off so well. For a start Munnery’s cartoon sketches are blissfully funny ranging from the dog doctors Snifflick and Woffles to the fleeting appearance of the shy avocado to a two thieves on Golgotha sketch and then back again to Snifflick and Woffles who are now in space. It often resembles the very best of Monty Python’s Flying Circus combining the extremely silly with the ingeniously experimental. There is not a weak routine here nor a weak sketch nor even a bad joke. Every word Munnery uses seems loaded with comic brilliance, able to reduce the entire Stand to uncontrollable tears of laughter at the drop of a hat.
Munnery has been called a genius and artist too many times for it to mean anything, yet never has something so absolutely meaningless been more agreeable, a sentiment which is also a rather perfect summary of Fylm itself.