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A Q&A with Simon Munnery, the former Watford Grammar School for Boys pupil, ahead of his Edinburgh Fringe appearances this summer
Before Simon Munnery heads off to the Edinburgh Fringe with his show Simon Munnery Sings Soren Kierkegaard, he talks to Amie Mulderrig about being naked on stage – accidentally, what makes him laugh and growing up in Watford.
What memories do you have of Watford Grammar School for Boys?
In ancient Greek kai means and and also also and even even. That’s all I can remember.
How did growing up in Bedmond shape who you are today?
Those happy carefree days still illuminate my soul like a slowly fading shaft of sunlight.
Watford – cultural wasteland or bohemian bolthole?
It has been 28 years since I lived near Watford, and even then I hardly visited it. Sometimes we’d go shopping in Watford, sometimes in Hemel Hempstead. I didn’t have a preference, it was all shopping. I doubt Watford was or is a cultural wasteland though, and wish it every success in the future. Do bohemians have boltholes? I thought that was priests.
Why did you decide to become a comedian?
I never decided to be a comedian, but after having been one for about 20 years grudgingly accept that I am. I drifted into it, then after a while the wind changed and now I’m stuck like that.
What makes you laugh?
My own thoughts primarily. Others also. My dog’s facial expressions and antics. Some of the writing of Soren Kierkegaard. All human endeavour.
You have a new show going to the Edinburgh Fringe, what can we expect?
My new show is entitled Simon Munnery Sings Soren Kierkegaard. I’ve done it four times. It’s a glorious mess. I attempt to make very old translated material, that was never written to be performed, funny, now. When that fails I try again.
What inspires the material for your stand-up?
Things that happen and things I imagine. I start with an idea and pursue it as far as I can, leave it fallow for a few years then return to it reinvigorated.
What is the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you on stage?
I was in the Greatest Show on Legs once, and prior to the naked balloon dance finale I had been unable to inflate my balloon. The curtain went up and I was just naked with an uninflated balloon.
Do you ever get stage fright?
Yes, all the time, except when I’m on stage, of course, then I get off-stage fright, the fear of being off-stage. I’m like a bleeding yo-yo.
What was the last joke/skit that made you laugh so hard, you wished you’d written it yourself?
New Art Club’s Australian dance.
Describe the worst gig of your life.
At a festival in Tottenham once they’d sited the comedy tent so that it faced away from the rest of the festival. It had no markings to indicate it was the comedy tent, it looked like a closed tent. I was compere. The only people who could see something was happening in the tent were those taking an unusual route to the toilet. At one point I had six in the audience.
Hecklers – ignorant drunks meant to make your life a misery, or opinionated fellows designed to keep entertainers on their toes?
There’s hardly any heckling anymore, it’s so rare that one treasures every heckle. I just hope and pray that I might live long enough to one day hear a good one.
Who are you supporting in the World Cup? Who do you think will win?
I’ll be supporting FIFA this World Cup; whatever happens they’ll win.
Gerry Sadowitz, John Hegley, Malcolm Hardee, Arnold Brown – they’re the people that made we want to do it.
Simon will perform at Tringe Festival on Friday, July 4, doors 7.15pm, doors 8pm. Tringe Festival runs from June 29 to July 19. Details tringefestival.co.uk