Last year went pretty well for the Funz and Gamez gang. The kids' comedy show (that’s secretly more fun for adults) was the word-of-mouth hit of the festival, and ended up walking away with the Foster’s Panel Prize for Spirit of the Fringe.
But that wasn’t the biggest highlight of the year for frontman Phil Ellis. The 33-year-old divorcee has a new girlfriend, 13 years his junior. Kids, take note: these are the things that really matter in life.
Ellis says that he’s ruining the success of last year’s Fringe with an ‘inferior show’, but really Funz and Gamez Tooz is as gloriously mischievous as its predecessor, with a new batch of cheekily inappropriate jokes. The gags are pitched just right: they’re subtle enough to fly over the head of any pre-teen, but the closer Ellis and his sidekicks (Jim the Elf and Bonzo the Dog) edge towards the line, the funnier it is for the grown-ups.
In fact, Funz and Gamez Tooz plays a bit too much to the parents at points, far more than last year’s award-winning effort. The children get fidgety in some sections while their mums and dads are having all the fun(z). But soon they’re thrown more sweets to scoff and there are more ‘gamez’ to play, and they’ve forgotten about being bored two minutes ago.
‘Kids’ll believe anything,’ says Jim the Elf, as he tricks the little ’uns into behaving with the promise of a Nintendo Wii up for grabs. They cotton on that the odds of winning the games aren’t in their favour, though. Soon enough the nippers have worked out that Ellis is cheating at every stage, and pantomime boos fill the room. When the penny drops for one five-year-old during a game of musical chairs, he simply gives up and walks back to his seat slapping his own forehead, much to the delight of Ellis. (Don’t worry, the boy’s given a few extra sweets to make up for the humiliation.)
Things get increasingly chaotic, particularly with the arrival of Uncle Rick, the thieving identical twin of the late Uncle Mick from last year’s show. But just when it seems like the show might derail completely, the Funz and Gamez team pull it back with a chance for the kids to burn some of their sugary energy and get their own back on the cheating host. Then they can finally say that they beat FAGz.