Live Review: Simon Munnery – Hat’s Off to the 101ers and Other Material

21 Feb

The Old Market, Hove: Thursday, February 16 2012

Almost 20 years on, it’s not hard to imagine what Simon Munnery’s most famous creation – Alan Parker Urban Warrior – would make of this show.

Parker, the hilarious, half-baked revolutionary who spat out slogans that would make even a professional Socialist Worker protester blush (‘The Birmingham Six are free, but when will the rest of Birmingham be free?’), would no doubt naively say this rambling mash-up of comedic styles was little more than arty middle class tosh.

This set, named after the doomed British airship that crashed on it’s maiden voyage in 1930, is undoubtedly shambolic, wilfully devoid of structure and at times downright bizarre. But It’s also, for the large part, hilarious.

It’s starts a little shaky, though, with the “punk rock opera” about the aforementioned airship, which is nothing more than a deliberately, poorly played, three chord missive with odd-ball lyrics.

Ignoring any pretence of a link, Munnery then began a more conventional routine about living in Bedford (“It’s for people who think Luton is a bit la dee da”) before abruptly stopping, shouting “monologue”, and becoming Sherlock Holmes to spectacularly pick apart the sleuth’s reputation with razor-sharp wit and beguiling language.

From then on, it got more weird and more wonderful.

A cardboard cut-out puppet show featured the brilliantly absurd conversations of two criminals crucified alongside Jesus, a poem about London has rightly been compared to a more demented John Cooper Clark, while a second irony-laced, misogynistic monologue from a seedy lecturer had the most laugh-out loud-lines of the night.

With the exception of some hackneyed anti-Daily Mail rants, this was a whirlwind hour of unapologetically, creative cleverness and eccentric, left-field whimsy. 

Munnery might miss the mark on occasions, but his best bits are very big hits.

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