28 April 2017

A man, limping, with a stick is in front of us blocking the way.

Simon Munnery: Standing Still Tour. Canterbury 27th April 2017

At the Simon  Munnery gig in Canterbury Marlowe’s back room. A great comedian and a great venue.

They say “He could be his generation’s Peter Cook. A bone fide comedy genius, but one showing little drive, at least in his performance, to maximise his innate brilliance.” 

But I quite like his dithering and stuttering through his lists he’s written in his head. Looks up to the right muttering “oh, yeah, I’ve done that, no, can’t do that, they won’t get get that one, oh, all right I’ll try it”. Looks back to audience. “Anyway…money never mattered me. I don’t have any anyway. So that’s one ambition realised”. His pauses are, I think, designed, like Dan Kitson’s, to give us time to think and process what he’s just said. More chortling ensues between jokes as the Gestalt Moment, a moment of realisation, hits us in waves of recognition. Genius.

Thought we’d hit Canterbury early as, as everybody knows, parking is so fucking appalling that you need to designate at least 45 minutes to finding an effing space. Car park nearest the Marlowe seemed the obvious choice but was full. On the second circuit round a space appears. We head slowly for it. A man, limping, with a stick is in front of us blocking the way. It slowly dawns on me that he’s walking towards ‘our’ space. He fucking is. He stands in the middle of the space and leans on his stick avoiding eye contact. Winding my window down I call out for him to move out of the way. He resolutely ignores my request. The girlfriend goes “I’ll handle this,” and gets out the car. They talk for several minutes. “You’re not going to believe this”, she says. “He’s playing the disabled card”.

“Already!” I say. “Mate that is not a disabled space. They are down there and are designated for you. You don’t even have a car so you can’t just stand in a car park space which is a space for a car and pull the disabled card then just stand in it”.

“I’m saving it for my girlfriend for when she arrives with the car”, he says.

I can see he’s not going to budge and short of having a full on row or just driving into the space (can you imagine the headlines?) I acquiesce.

“Thank you for being so considerate. Thanks for that. You’re very kind…” etc. etc. rings in my ears as I head to the next nearest car park.


The next nearest after that. Full. Show time approaches. We’re going to miss the start of the show so head out past King’s Gate, past the Penny Theatre and eventually find a space in Sainsbury’s car park. Its five minutes to kick off. We get the ticket bought so we can park legally and head off back up the road for the 15-20 minutes’ walk to the theatre. It starts to rain.

Picking tickets up at the box office 10 minutes late. “You’ve missed the beginning”, says the emotionally aware gentleman as he hands over the tickets. “No shit, Sherlock” I think, dripping water on the floor, glasses soaked with droplets, out of breathe and the two glasses of wine I had earlier wearing off fast.

Sneaking round the curtain trying not to get noticed arriving late at a comedy gig (yeah right) Simon Munnery clocks us straight away and quick as you like says “don’t worry you ain’t missed nothing”. The audience piss themselves laughing. “Why are you late”, he asks. “Traffic”, meekly. “Parking problems”. He launches into a a five minute spiel about how shit parking is and have we considered getting the train? The joke is on us but I’m wet and thirsty. Munnery sips from a bottle of water all through his set. I’m very envious. We quietly just sit in the two end seats on the front row to avoid antagonising the piss ripping fucker further. It was sheer embarrassment that made me use that word. “I hate being looked at when I’m working”, he says and gets back on with his show. A show in which he forgot his props and indeed the order his jokes are supposed to be in and had to say things like “Just imagine this, but normally I come out in a coat made of cider cans, like a cloak the king of the tramps would wear” except there is no coat but he carries on with the sketch anyway. My girlfriend frowns and furrows her brow at me. “He’s genius isn’t he?” I say.

After break we resume the show but this time in our proper seats in the middle of row B. Munnery starts with “This should have been in the first half and normally I read a poem from a book but I don’t have it tonight so you’ll just have to imagine I’m holding it”. Which we do.

Fuck me. You’ll never believe this but sitting next to me, that’s right; sitting next to me on the same row is “incapacitated guy who leans on his stick in the car park and reserves spaces by pulling the disability card”.

I lean over and proffer my hand. “Hello my friend”. He accepts it and shakes back “Jolly nice to see you again”.