The last time Simon Munnery was doing his Alan Parker character, the issues of the day were the poll tax, the rainforests and Margaret Thatcher. Now the “bedsit anarchist” is back. The world has changed, but has he?

His old jokes about the Birmingham Six, the DHSS and the Thatcher years rub shoulders with material on feminism and climate change. He’s so into Extinction Rebellion that he has a graph of CO2 emissions drawn on his bomber jacket. However, his attempts to be a good feminist only betray him as being a very bad one.

Whatever the issue, his “radical solutions to radical problems” are utter nonsense, like blowing on the world to cool it down. And here lies the purpose of Parker, now as it ever was. Parker isn’t a surgical satire of the loony left. It’s too surreal, and Munnery probably shares too much of his politics. Instead, Parker has clearly been created (and revived) with affection. He’s the Watford boy who thinks big but lives small. In the fine tradition of British comedy characters, he has delusions of grandeur. If anything, Munnery seems to most enjoy lampooning the tone of protest: the voice heavy with piety, the impotent sloganeering, “ambiguity” written on his hi-vis jacket.

In this era of political crisis and 140-character takedowns, Parker might lack a bit of punch – do not expect any material on veganism, trans issues or Corbyn and antisemitism (the subject flutters up but it is, well, ambiguous). Even so, there is something wonderfully appealing about a character in his 50s who still has the fire, and still wants to change the world, even if he’s the least-equipped person to do it.

This is all in keeping with Munnery as a comic: absurdist and playful, if a bit noncommittal. He’s also a gagsmith, and there are a handful of terrific jokes, like his take on the evils of (Billy Bragg voice) tech-nol-ogy.

Munnery doesn’t waste the opportunity to dig out his old cover of the Orb’s Little Fluffy Clouds, which is still funny 25 years later. One slightly off-colour moment is a routine that, in tone at least, is a dig about self-identification.

Parker signs off with his 10 radical commandments, which are printed on a tea towel he’s flogging for a fiver. It’s a slyly funny way of saying that, for him, the struggle goes on.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here