Simon Munnery: "This show has formed like sedimentary rock, through immense periods of time and pressure"

<b>Simon Munnery</b> tell us about the loop of alternativism

Feature by Bernard O'Leary | 24 Mar 2011

Simon Munnery has long been the champion of weird, experimental comedy, a man whose mission was once 'to discover England, and confuse it'. So his current show, Self-Employed, might alarm some fans, who won’t know what to make of their hero wearing a suit and telling anecdotes about family life. Don’t panic though: Munnery assures us that he hasn’t suddenly gone sane.

"The main part of this show has formed like sedimentary rock, through immense periods of time and pressure. I looked back on these notes I had made over the years, and realised that it was all basically true. I think it’s good for the soul that, telling the truth." So is this a more routine standup show than what we would normally expect from Munnery? "Not really. It starts with a 15-minute sketch set in a conceptual art restaurant. I serve dishes like Absence de Mango – sweet juicy mango fruit, suddenly removed. Works the same way as homeopathy."

Munnery doesn't like to admit that he's been in comedy for a long time now. "You know how it is," he says, "I just started doing something I like. Next thing you know, the wind changes and you’re stuck like that." Comedy has changed a lot since the days of Alan Parker: Urban Warrior though. Does he find it depressing that comedy is veering towards the mainstream again? "No, I’ve seen this happen before. When I came into it in the late 80s, we were the alternative scene as a rival to the mainstream scene, which was dying out by then anyway. And what happens is the alternative gets bigger and bigger, then a new alternative comes up. I’ve been through this loop. We're back where we started."

He hasn't given up trying to break new ground and has just begun an ambitious international tour. Of Bedford. Why Bedford?: "It’s near where I live." So far, Bedford has responded to his attempts at conquest with apathy. "I’ve done about twelve gigs so far, but it hasn’t really taken off. That's where the conceptual restaurant came from, actually. I wanted to create something I could carry around so I built this cart to carry all the plates and tables and chairs. The idea was that I could set it up in a field or something and serve all of these bizarre dishes." Has that been a success? "No. It was too heavy to push."

Playing The Stand, Edinburgh, 5 Apr, 8.30pm, £9 (£7) and The Stand Glasgow, 6 Apr 9.30pm, £8 (£7) (part of the MGICF)