Edinburgh Festival Fringe children’s show review: Funz and Gamez Tooz, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Claire Smith.
Last year Funz and Gamez became a massive underground hit. Word on the street was a group of northern comics were doing a kids’ show that contained loads of secret adult material.
The kids loved it but the audience was full of adults, particularly fellow comics, who wanted to see it for themselves.
Funz and Gamez won the Foster’s panel prize and has moved to a bigger venue – but I think it’s safe to say they haven’t sold out. Phil Ellis is simply brilliant as a slightly reluctant kids’ performer who really wants to be doing something else. Lanky, daft and acting as if he is rather scared of kids, Ellis has pockets full of sweets for emergencies.
Even the tiny children on the front row start thinking they can get the better of him. In the course of the show Ellis tries to play tricks on them and cheats at games – but he also lets them throw things at him and batter him when they need to get their own back.
If things get too hairy, Ellis reaches for the sweets to get the nippers back in their seats.
Comic Mick Ferry does a fantastic turn as Uncle Rick, replacing Uncle Mick, who is now dead. Like everybody’s dodgy uncle, Uncle Rick is extremely unsavoury but weirdly loveable. He is, somehow, like family and the kids in the audience squeal with laughter when he does daft, dodgy things.
Musical accompaniment comes from Bonzo the Dog, aka Will Duggan in a dreadful pound shop pig costume, while Jim the Elf, aka Jim Meehan, panics and tries to hold things together.
Bonzo and Jim try to stop Ellis talking about his tragic love life and try to help with crowd control when the tiny children get too mental.
New this year is the Numb Bear – aka Mat Ewins – whose lame attempts at educational humour are heckled by Ellis.
This is a show which absolutely refuses to patronise its audience and doesn’t condescend to anyone – even if they are three years old and dressed as Batman.
The grown up stuff is close to the bone but so subtle it is almost hidden. Switched-on teenagers might get some jokes but the little children remain blissfully unaware of the secret smut – all they notice is mummy and daddy are enjoying themselves and don’t look bored like they normally do in kids shows.
Assembly George Square Gardens (Venue 3) until 31 August / listings
Published in The Scotsman on 21 August 2015
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