Widely regarded as one of the comics of his generation, Simon Munnery continues to innovate and push boundaries with each and every show. His latest show ‘Fylm’ stabs at the void between dead film and live theatre in his latest fylmtastic fylm, returning to the Edinburgh club on 23rd, Glasgow Comedy Festival on March 24th, and Newcastle on April 8th.
When you’re given a list of your forthcoming shows and you see that The Stand is included in that list, what do you think?
When I am given a list of my forthcoming shows and I see that The Stand is included in that list, I think, “My career has plateaued . Must buy a revolver.” I weep briefly, as is our custom, then do anger: “I should be playing Murrayfield by now. Murrayfield I tell ye.” Finally I comfort myself, with a sponge, and think “I’ve peaked! I’m at my peak! Murrayfield is a stadium, it’s for sport - The Stand is a comedy club; the best in the world; and that is exactly where comedy belongs; in a basement. For comedy is the one live art form that shall survive the apocalypse: when the opera houses are blown to smithereens, the theatres wiped from the face of the earth, and the planet is cleansed by fire, then, we and only we, the practitioners of comedy, and our beloved audiences, shall rise, like phoenixes, out of our basements, survey the devastation before us, the ashes of a world destroyed, and know that we alone have been chosen to survive. For another four days at least.”
What’s your take on each of the 3 Stand clubs, both the clubs themselves and the audiences at each?
The Three Stands:
1. Edinburgh; the first, the best, the original. Poor sightlines, not enough air on a Saturday night.
2. Glasgow; better still, marvellous, perfect: excellent sightlines, adequate oxygen, full of Glaswegians on a Saturday night.
3. Newcastle; Who does Tommy think he is? Bonnie Prince Fucking Charlie? Stay your side of the border mate.
Do you need to adapt your act in any way for each club, or does the city/venue not affect what you do?
In my current show I get the audience to spell out the name of the city we are in by holding up large cardboard letters. Sometimes that takes ages. It’s part of my Audience Intelligence Test © TM Patents applied for. So as far as adaption goes, I bring the correct letters for the city I’m going to. Also if I encounter something worth ridiculing, or utterly heart-warming, I might mention it.
We recognise that you’ve worked very hard crafting this show, refining it with each performance, and generally giving it your all, so could you overlook that and sum it up for us in an easily digestible soundbite?
The antithesis of all that was previous.
An idea made flesh.
The camera is an instrument that should be used by live performers.
A gentle probing of the rectum of destiny.
Speak through a camera why don’t ya?
A shot in the dark, lit by torches.
The difference between a powerpoint presentation and a TV show is the courage to speak into a camera .
You’ve done Fylm and Fylm Makker Fringe runs and tours following those Fringe runs, after all those shows I was wondering how the show and concept has evolved?
I don’t think the show has evolved; there just hasn’t been time. It has changed: I’ve got better at doing some bits, added new stuff and dropped the rest. I’ve learned a little: Keep still, don’t worry, make sure everyone, including me, can see and hear.
The concept remains the same; to speak visually, to make a live film.
Is there scope to further explore this, or will you bow out when people are still wanting more?
There is vast scope for further exploration; it‘s a rich seam. I do not intend to bow out, but to persuade others to bow in.
You have a reputation for being arguably the most creative comedian/performer in comedy. Does this come from a desire within to always come up with something new and interesting, or do you feel the weight of expectation from audience and critics alike?
There is no joy comparable with imagining a thing and by slow hard grind turning it into a reality, apart from constant hot marital sex, one imagines.
Is there any likelihood of us seeing a Simon Munnery tour/Fringe show that’s simply you, standing at a mic, doing stand-up?
There is an 80% likelihood. My next show, which I’m thinking about writing, may be called “Simon Munnery sings Soren Kierkergaard”, a title inspired by/nicked from “Arthur Smith sings Leonard Cohen”. There are practical difficulties to be surmounted of course: Soren wrote no songs, for example, only philosophical tracts. But that won’t stop me singing.
Relating to that somewhat; how, if at all, does the show differ from your club set?
It’s different material, and a different format. Surely that’s enough.
If someone has seen you before, how will this compare to previous shows, and specifically the previous tour?
It will undoubtedly be better. Or worse. Almost certainly one of the two; it is highly unlikely to be exactly the same. Even Coca Cola cans, made by machines, are each subtly different- the production number, the sell-by date, the exact molecular composition – and I’m a long way from being a machine.
Both Scotland and The Stand are immersed in the independence referendum debate. Do you feel that you need to work it into your act when in Scotland? If so, what approach would you take?
A referendum debate? Sure. All those in favour of an independent Scotland say “Aye“. Those against say “Och Aye”. That’ll set the cat among the pigeons, I’ll warrant.
A lot of people will see you as ‘that funny person’ but we’re wondering if you have an interest, passion or hobby that will surprise people, making them think ‘I never expected that’?
On Wednesday nights if I haven’t a gig I go along to Morris dancing practice. I do not regard myself as a Morris dancer, and nor can anyone else who has seen me attempt it, but attempt it I do. I find it hard enough doing the steps, but then you have to move around in a pre-ordained pattern, and there’s sticks and hankies to contend with.
Our clubs attract a different sort of clientele during the festive period, and also during Glasgow Comedy Festival and Edinburgh Fringe, do you find it a different experience playing ‘off peak’ in front of a ‘real’ crowd?
There’s a self fulfilling prophecy element to thinking this is a tough crowd; so normally I do what I do, and I hope you like it. On the other hand there’s nothing like snatching defeat from the jaws of victory or vice versa. It’s exhilarating. Still, when you’re on last, and they’re more tired and drunk than you are, and oxygen deprived, and a sizeable proportion seem ignorant , dim and angry, and your job is to entertain them, it can be stressful. But I am grateful for the work, the chance. I love it.
Interview: Dave McGuire 6.2.14