Fylm School Redefines The Comedy Setup
Londonist Rating: ★★★★☆
Simon Munnery has redefined the comedy setup. We don't mean the setup to a punchline: Munnery has redefined the setup of the actual room, to wit he hosts his entire current show Fylm School from where the sound desk usually is — broadcasting his crooked-toothed mug onto a screen onstage via camera. This is a gimmick, surely? No, actually — even the title credits (created by jumbling about polystyrene shapes in water with his fingers) are hilariously juvenile. It's a sign of the ramshackle breath of fresh air that's to follow.
Fylm School — a monthly show at Soho Theatre — is a playful, artful take on stand-up — the lovechild of goofy, gauche comedy and programmes like Blue Peter and Art Attack. Munnery has created a backroom workshop — a table on which he creates autumnal landscapes (blowing a few leaves about), wintry landscapes (fuzzing a few polystyrene scraps about), and puts chalk to slate in a bid to explain where plumbers have been going wrong all these years. He has a likeability factor of 11, and even when his skits misfire (bad Jimmy Savile impression anyone? Song about Putin poo-ing into a tin?) the audience is quick to forgive.
An acoustic guitar, meanwhile, pootles away in the background, creating the kind of backing that wouldn't be out of place accompanying Tony Hart running through a gallery of viewers' pictures.
Tim Key is up next. "Finally, a poet who's willing to tackle the thorny issue of love," he deadpans, before getting a bit confused by Munnery's setup, which involves a mirror attached to a peddle (at times Fylm School is like watching a comedian try to do their thing while simultaneously taking a driving test).
However, once Key shifts into gear, the projector provides a comedian's eye view: we're shown the backs of the playing cards on which he scribbles his vignettes — one about a swing-happy wrecking ball operator, another about a witch who doers rude things to herself with a broomstick. Some poems Key reads out, some we squint to read ourselves. It's not Key's crispest show, but the skewed perspective more than makes up for it.
Sam Fletcher is the finale — he's a boyish comedian-conjurer who spends way much too time making weird art projects. "When my girlfriend gets home and asks what I've done with my afternoon I'll show her this," he says, pointing to a moving cartoon of the Bee Gees — all of them wearing the face of Morgan Freeman. Fletcher then proceeds to make an Oyster card levitate and finishes up by swallowing 20 needles and a length of string. It's not Key-and-Munnery-calibre comedy, but Fletcher is deserved of Fylm School status nonetheless.
Fifteen smackers seems a tad steep for 60 minutes: a third guest and an extra half hour would be welcome. But Munnery has always had the knack for leaving us wanting more. If you always left art lessons with glitter smeared across your face, polystyrene jammed behind your glasses, and you like laughing, book for the next show immediately.
Fylm School is back at Soho Theatre on 24 November with Nina Conti and Sam Simmons, and on 22 December with Rob Delaney. Tickets £15. Londonist saw this show on a complimentary ticket.
Last Updated 06 November 2014