A bewildering fusion of styles from the star of cult sitcom Attention, Scum!
Simon Munnery takes to the stage in the Black Box with every seat occupied and a smattering of punters willingly standing at the back for the duration of the show.
After starring in the cult television series Attention, Scum!, and with Stewart Lee crediting him as ‘the Peter Cook of his generation’, Munnery’s Self Employed show inevitably garners a lot of attention.
He opens the set with a song performed on an off-tune miniature guitar. It raises a smile, although I hope that this atonal strumming won’t make up too much of the set.
Thankfully, Munnery soon launches into the main body of the show, picking up speed as he goes along. A whirlwind of material follows, blending out-and-out surrealism with intricate wordplay and musings on pop culture, life, death, Greek mythology and religion.
All of this is peppered with more songs, serving to bridge a gap between Adam and Joe spoofery and early Steve Martin cerebral silliness.
Munnery’s delivery is mostly calm and collected, making his staccato flourishes of madness and music even more potent. However, he is at his best when deadpan, dissecting the lyrics of John Lennon and Bruce Springsteen in a tone reminiscent of the Thin White Duke.
An unexpected and very funny video plays during the interval, before Munnery launches into the second half with a series of character pieces (including a turn as a stereotypical French waiter fresh out of 'Allo 'Allo).
Proceedings take a turn for the nonsensical when Munnery offers audience members increasingly silly dishes, such as a bowl of nothing but sweary audio. Unfortunately, while this concept is sound, it drags on a little - a large portion of the audience appear perplexed, bored or both.
Any sense of fumbling the ball is fleeting, however, and the show reaches its finale. A selection of one-liner anti-jokes has this reviewer howling with laughter, and a spirited reading of silly but inspired prose in the vein of Spike Milligan rounds off proceedings in style.
Simon Munnery’s whirlwind approach to stand-up comedy encompasses a fierce array of comedic styles, ensuring that he cannot be pigeonholed into any one genre. His brushstrokes may feel a little broad at times, but more often than not he gets a laugh. After riotous applause and a welcome encore, I leave pleased to have seen one of the forerunners of British alternative comedy on top of his game.