A show that’s reviewed by its own title
Simon Munnery is doing his 30th year at the Fringe, then. How many hours of Munnery must have been racked up over the years? Can you imagine watching all those shows, back to back? That would be a pretty odd weekend.
Anyway, Standing Still is his latest long-player, and it’s as you might expect – a mercurial hour of one-liners, ditties, political anger, some fun with clothes pegs and other unalloyed nonsense. Oh, plus a brief Alan Parker revival. It’s not a vintage Munnery show, really, but I don’t think any of his fans would go away disappointed.
After a delightfully ridiculous opening during which he’s covered in cans of Strongbow, we move on to sections about politics and nationalism, his dog, Leo, then finishes on an imagined date where all the couple talk about is skiing. He’s increasingly content to have fairly lengthy periods where he’s not playing for laughs. I don’t mind this at all; his unusual choice of interludes is part of what makes his show so … Munneryish. Plus he is pumping out the gags at other points. The best of these is when he reads a passage from a book about the agricultural revolution (seriously) about how common land became private land. In this instance it comes with a ruthless comic payoff.
I also enjoyed his parody of Just a Minute, called Just an Hour, which has exactly the same rules you just have to do it for an hour. The tales of “at home with the Munneries” is also amusing and charming, the idea of Munnery trying to get his daughter to eat asparagus is quite comical in itself.
The show does feel quite coast-y though – rehashing an old Alan Parker song and telling a joke about Northampton that I’m certain is from a previous show. And the joke-less parts are fine when they’re interesting, but having a generic rant about Philip Green buying yachts with his ill-gotten gains could have come in any of a hundred shows in this Fringe. And call me a stickler but when he’s showing pictures to the audience that accompany a joke, it’s annoying that they’re clearly too small for anyone bar the front few rows to see. Its’ wrong to expect slickness from Munnery, but come on.
It seems Munnery goes through periods of innovation with his shows, then consolidation, and Standing Still comfortably – probably too comfortably – falls into the latter.
Review by Paul Fleckney