Interview: Rarely Asked Questions - Simon Munnery

The legend that is Simon Munnery has come up with more original comedy ideas than most comedians have had punchlines. Alan Parker Urban Warrior. League Against Tedium. Cluub Zarathustra and his Fylm concept among others. The last time I saw him he was doing a memorable gig at the Edinburgh Fringe celebrating three decades of maverick comedy and he did most of his characters onstage that night. He is back on tour with a brand new stage show although some old gags may slip in there too. He promises "an opening to die for, seven wry observations, a tone poem, four fresh skits and two new commandments." What's not to like? Dates here.

Picture by Edward Moore.


1. What is the last thing you do before you go onstage (apart from check your flies and/or check your knickers aren't sticking out of your skirt and check for spinach between your teeth )?

That's a good question - which is not a good answer, indeed not an answer at all, merely an opinion of the question.

It's easy to fall into the trap of a pre-gig ritual - in the end they all wear out, so I struggle not to. It's a strange and lonely moment before going on, filled with unnamed dread and the temptation is to fetishise your preparations - must wear the lucky shoes, pace a certain number of steps, finish your pint. I've done all sorts over the years to fill those seconds; for a while I used to recite the Lord's Prayer quietly - which I also do when having blood taken in hospital.

One of the best gigs I can remember was in Bristol, and I was sick with flu, wrapped in a blanket lying on the floor by an electric heater shivering and drifting in and out of conciousness when the compere shook me gently: "You're on". I was too ill to suffer nerves and had a great gig, until I fell off the stage.

For the last fifteen years I have been privileged to play the same venue at roughly the same time every day for a month during the Edinburgh fringe - The Stand, 3.30pm - and there I always stand outside in Rat Alley as it's known; the claustrophobic, un-owned and hence never cleaned gap between buildings. It's a mess of cables, pipes, rusting wire, feathers, broken ducts; all covered with an ever-thickening layer of pigeon shit, and I stand there on the grill above the cess pit, and look down to see the silhouette of my head reflected in the dark waters below then up towards the tiny patch of sky above. I finish my fag and do the gig.

One thing I almost never do is look in a mirror, check my knickers for spinach, or examine my flies. For even if my flies are undone what is the worst that could happen? A woman might glimpse my penis; that counts as a victory.

2. What irritates you?

You, with your tiresomely broad question. All sorts of things irritate me: mosquito bites, Andrew Neil's punchbag face leering out of the screen while he delivers his inane anti-Corbyn snipes, the on-going closure of The Lord Bodo pub, the impossibility of ever doing anything, dog shit on my shoe and thus the carpet, the nagging feeling that there's something I haven't done, the insidiousness of instagram, snapchat, facebum etc., my wife's unquenchable thirst to throw away old things and buy new ones...

3. What is the most dangerous thing you have ever done?

Jumping off a balcony; driving the length of the M6 at seventy miles an hour late at night for years on end - not for gigs, just for the hell of it; playing pool for big money in Adelaide with a gang leader surrounded by his gang, winning and then insisting on giving him his half of the cash back just to teach him a lesson.

4. What is the most stupid thing you have ever done?

May I refer you to my previous answer? Also certain chess moves and joining Mensa in my youth

5. What has surprised you the most during your career in comedy?

Laughter. It's always a surprise.

Interview continues here.


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