Billed as a ‘can’t miss show for both fans of comedy and people who hate the outdoors’, I was looking forward to Christoph von Munchow’s first solo show at the Barron Theatre on Saturday night.
Before the main man himself came onstage, fellow student comedian Adam Bumstead gave a quick supporting act. Self-billed as St Andrews ‘comedy sweetheart’, Bumstead navigated his way through some classic comedy about his life as a student while also using the gig as a platform to push himself out of his self-confessed conform zone by attempting some audience interaction. While the words ‘audience interaction’ immediately put me on alert after a terrible childhood experience where I was forced to play a singing pirate on stage, Bumstead’s jokes with audience members about their ‘alternative’ music tastes went down well with the audience. While I laughed along, I couldn’t help but reflect that student events like this are a vital platform to allow students to develop their comedic skill in the relatively safe environment of the Barron theatre.
Moving swiftly on to the main act, Christoph von Munchow entered the stage in a dramatic sequence of music, lights and action. Was I at a comedy show, or an interpretative dance routine? The answer was unclear, but whatever it was, the audience and I were laughing. After the dramatic start, Christoph took the audience on a high-energy self-reflective comedic tour featuring his observations on modern dating, American jury service, millennials, and time travel. While at points the transitions from one comedic episode to another felt a little too fast and furious for my taste, his high energy actions kept the audience engaged from start to finish. Particular Kudos should go to Christoph for managing to make even the dull topic of jury service payments funny, while his anecdote about nostalgia and time travel highlighted the depths of his imagination.
Christoph’s natural charm and humour were the highlights of the show, and while it was clear great effort had gone into providing additional soundtracks and voiceovers, these felt slightly stilted at times compared to the more traditional stand-up elements. Indeed, the final closing sequence, a dramatic reflection on the importance of life itself supported by Christoph as a mime artist, was funny thanks to the sheer absurdity of it, yet I found myself craving one last comic anecdote instead.
Overall, an ambitious and impressive show from both performers, with good old-fashioned self-reflective comedy at its heart. It is clear that the St Andrews comedy scene is working to nurture talent while allowing performers to take ambitious risks in moving outside their comfort zones. Hopefully, we will see more solo comedy shows in St Andrews in the future.