Ian D Monfort communicates with many famous figures who have passed to the other side. Among them is Steve Jobs, of Apple fame. Following his correspondent’s example, who modernised the humble phone by making it an iPhone, spiritual medium Montfort wants to modernise what we call rationality, making it… well, you get the joke.
Sceptics and believers alike will find something to enjoy as Binns lets us all have a quick peek behind the curtain.
Tom Binns, in the guise of his Northern alter-ego Montfort, sees it as his task to communicate with the spirit world and try to convince the sceptics and ‘scientitians’ amongst us that what he does is real. Binns as Montfort is so successful at skewering professional spiritualists – whose careers are built on a mix of technical jiggery pokery and close-up magic – that you get the sense the comedian could well fall back on a career in the field should the comedy work begin to dry up. But that doesn’t seem likely to happen soon.
Binns is a consummate performer, managing to stay in character and in control when dealing with the inevitable sections of audience participation. Though there is the potential for him to use these audience interactions to take the piss out of the sceptics in the crowd, he never does, allowing people to be forthcoming with their questions and secrets while Montfort remains firmly the butt of all jokes.
There is something of the standup circuit comedian about Binns in these exchanges. But whereas the stock responses in a comic’s arsenal are usually put-downs, Binns shows up the ludicrously open-ended nature of spiritualists’ questions. My favourite concerned his quizzing of a young man in the front row after having somehow obtained the knowledge that he had a pet called Rover: “I want to say that Rover is a dog?”, to which the answer was negative. Binns retorted, “I’m sorry, if you’ll let me finish. I want to say that Rover is a dog’s name…that you gave to a cat.”
There must be some sleight of hand that allows Binns to guess what passage has been randomly circled on a copy of Shakespeare’s collected works, among other ruses. Whereas some are obvious, with Monfort flagging up that this is how other, less enlightened mediums might do such-and-such a trick, how he can obtain the serial code of a five pound note in a wallet inside a plastic bag from 20 paces is beyond me. Maybe the summoned spirit of Winston Churchill was real after all?
There were three generations of the same family sitting in front of me on the night who absolutely loved the show. Sceptics and believers alike will find something to enjoy as Binns lets us all have a quick peek behind the curtain.