‘That was a fontz errorz,’ says Phil Ellis, the host of ‘Funz and Gamez’, after handing an eight-year-old boy in the audience his prize: a t-shirt baring a wildly inappropriate joke. The gag soars over the kid’s head, of course, but the adults in the audience are in hysterics.
The biggest joke of ‘Funz and Gamez’ is that this chaotic, gloriously silly show is for kids. It’s billed in the children’s section of the Fringe brochure as ‘a giggle-packed hour of family fun,’ but the grown-ups in the audience (including a large pocket of comedians) are having the most ‘funz’. Not that the youngsters aren’t, they’re having a blast. They’re also crucial to the show’s success. The children are the punchline.
Manchester-based Ellis is the mastermind behind the show. He poses as a cynical stand-up, only performing to children to make a quick buck. He’s joined on keyboards by Bonzo the Dog, who lost his mask on a stag do, and Jim the Elf, whose tatty costume could do with a few repairs.
There are ‘gamez’ aplenty, but the little squirts have no chance of winning, and a PlayStation 4 box (it’s empty) sits unclaimed. It seems cruel on paper, but while the nippers are momentarily disappointed at losing an arm-wrestling match or staring competition, they’re also given free rein to be naughty, squirting water pistols at a man barely dressed as a pooch and pelting colourful balls at a lame elf. Plus they’re hyper, sugared-up on sweets thrown by Ellis.
And, hey, they learn some valuable ‘life lessons’, too. ‘Losers get nothing,’ is one. ‘Don’t get too attached to your nanna,’ is another. Who else is going to teach these youngsters such harsh truths, their parents? Pfft.
The kids are laughed at during the show, but they surely have the last laugh on the way home. I feel for the parents having to answer the many inevitable questions after the gig, like why that clown had to leave so suddenly, or why their well-earned t-shirt can’t to be worn in public.
With word spreading in the comedy community about ‘Funz and Gamez’ I just hope that the audience isn’t soon made up of 100 percent adults (I appreciate this review isn’t helping matters). But the kids – the baffled, hyperactive kids – are half the funz.
‘Funz and Gamez’ is at Just the Tonic at the Mash House, 2pm. It’s listed in the ‘Children’s Shows’ section