Simon Munnery: Renegade Plumber

Thu 3rd – Sun 27th August 2017

reviews

Clarissa Mayhew

at 11:31 on 17th Aug 2017

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Simon Munnery’s return to the Edinburgh Fringe is a bumbling tour through poems, songs and even water-heating systems - whatever random thoughts, it seems, have captured his ever curious attention.

The apparently structureless stream of consciousness has a charmingly laid back effect - standing in contrast to some of the more try hard comedy around the Fringe: we feel Munnery, a veteran, isn’t trying to prove anything - just have a laugh. The show comes across less like a carefully staged performance and more like the conversation of a funny friend with an overflowing imagination full of amusing anecdotes mixed up with a bunch of classic jokes and silly antibanter-banter that make the audience chuckle appreciatively. The atmosphere in the Comedy Stand is thus a perfect setting. Cramped in a pub style basement room papered in posters with half the audience on zebra print bar stools crowded round the stage, it feels intimate and casual. Munnery’s husky voice as he sings ‘Mrs Barbour’s Army’ is likewise pleasant and inviting and historically informative digressions into the Glasgow tenement rent strikes are interesting even when not exactly laughable.

References to Lloyd George, The Proclaimers, and Edinburgh itself locate the show as properly British comedy. Ripping into capitalist democracies and exploitative landlords, it has a political tint without resting too much on obvious current events. When Munnery does mention Grenfell towers his comments are more serious than comic. In fact this is a recurring characteristic of the performance. At times the comedy seems to entirely drop away from the stand up leaving an interesting but not exactly side-splitting discussion. The humour is located less in particular moments of hilarity but in a general droll attitude sustained throughout. At times the narratives, of the plumbing device for example, felt rather too drawn out as we were explained several times over the particular characteristics of water heating principles. Munnery’s account of his own performances as a wedding speech joker were kind of meta, explaining his repertoire and inviting us into the jokes rather than distantly performing them, showing us diagrams on crumpled up scrappy bits of paper that added to the universal sense of informality.

Overall the show was a bit befuddling but in a pleasing and interesting manner leaving us filled with a nice sense of satisfaction as we found our way back to the chaos of the Old Town - a nice bit of mid-afternoon chat.

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Claire Leibovich

at 11:42 on 17th Aug 2017

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‘I’m gonna sing a song – bolt the doors!’ What could be better than sitting in an underground, dimly lit pub, sipping at a beer and listening to a guy tell you jokes and entertaining anecdotes about himself ? Simon Munerry returns once more to the Fringe with his new one-man show ‘Simon Munnery: Renegade Plumber’.

What I liked most about Simon Munnery is that he was like the entertaining slash weird one in a friendship group, only funnier; that friend whom everytime you meet up you know he will have countless new anecdotes to tell. The performance was mostly scripted but the result was so natural and spontaneous that it felt improvised. He did also improvise a bit by interacting with the audience; he would ask an audience member a question and immediately pull a story and a song and ten minutes worth of amusement out of his bag. That bag seemed to contain an infinite amount of stories, and he would make them out of the most banal event - like going to Sainsbury’s to buy sugar or drinking tea. He had a small table besides him with the most random props like an empty packet of crisp, funny drawings, a clip-on bowtie and some dirty stippled pages he claimed to be poems by himself.

As the show description says, there are some passing stances against liberalism, but thankfully it is not the show’s raison d’être. There is no irritating whining or self-righteousness, instead there are songs and a story that illustrates the importance of knowledge. Munnery almost completely ignores topical subjects, which is honestly such a welcome break, not only from so many shows at the Fringe but also from our everyday, news-obsessed lives.

The pace is fast and Munnery leads his show in an intense fashion, jumping from story to story and slipping in countless joke. This is unseperable from his charm, however, my attention did wane a bit towards the end, especially as he swallowed his words considerably. Yet I did not regret the energy I spent on Munnery’s meandering eccentricities. ‘Simon Munner : Renegade Plumber’ is funny, unpretentious and yet smart; it is the most successful show I have seen so far at the Fringe.

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