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Greater Manchester Fringe: Bungo Menebla – Kings Arms, Salford

Writer: Kevin Dewsbury, Mark Sparkler

Reviewer: Laura Maley

[Rating:0.5]

Greater Manchester Fringe Festival sees the very first gig for comedy duo Bungo Menebla. The duo of Kevin Dewsbury (stand-up comedian) and Mark Sparkler (writer and performer) promise idiocy, sketches and silliness at the Kings Arms in Salford.

What results seems surprisingly under-rehearsed, and hastily put together. Some sketches reference earlier ones, this is quite a clever idea but doesn’t fully work as there are so few laughs for the first sketch that as an audience it is hard to remember or care when it’s referred to later on. Overall, what is disappointing is that there doesn’t seem to be very much material that is new or different – possibly this is a result of too many ideas to create one coherent show.

The gaps between sketches are – without exception – overly-long, which adds (along with missing lines and fluffed lines) to an overall air of being wholly unprepared for the gig. At times the lengthy waits and lack of preparation feel excruciating. The surreal material isn’t quite surreal enough, and the more conversational sketches are just a bit too everyday to be very funny. Some sketches trail away with no punchline or realisation that the sketch is over.

The half star rating is given almost entirely on the strength of the final sketch featuring Barney the German Shepherd, which is undoubtedly silly, with a childishly simple and effectiveplay on words.

Dewsbury and Sparkler are seasoned, confident performers and, to their credit, are upfront about this being their first performance as Bungo Menebla. Sparkler makes a good straight man and Dewsbury’s ad libs do show a mark of a quick-thinking stand-up comedian. The show is a little shorter than advertised; possibly the pair sense the show is not engaging the audience as well as they would like. With a short run in Edinburgh Festival in August, there seems an awful lot which the duo need to work on.

Reviewed on 12th July 2012

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2 comments

  1. Avatar

    I went to this show because I’d seen a shortened version of Bungo Menebla at The Comedy Store a few days before and they did three brilliant sketches which had everyone laughing loads. At the full show at The Kings Arms they said they had only just about learnt the scripts so to bear with them. It was obvious it was the first show but it still had me in stitches. It seemed that some of the material they struggled to remember and clearly this detracted from the humour, nevertheless they kept it together and acted around it which was funny in itself. They only did two of the sketches from the previous show which was a shame. However my favourite was a sketch about one of them writing a script to belittle the other, followed by another sketch where the tables are turned visa versa. This was highly original, clever and very funny. In the sketch it appears at first as if Kevin is ad libbing but then it becomes apparent that these were scripted by the author to entrap Kevin into further humiliation. It’s a shame as I don’t think everyone got this due to their first night nerves. When the tables are turned Mark is the underdog and Kevin has imposed that Mark wear a daft outfit. This became increasingly funny as Kevin winds Mark up for his inability to do the Hungarian accent which the script dictates. I also loved the sketch with a bouncer outside an old ladies tea room – absolute genius – had me in fits. There were also some great short sketches played from a tape while they changed costume which was a novel idea. I think when they have ‘rehearsed’ rather than just ‘learnt’ their lines, this will be amazing and they will come into their own – without a doubt. Therefore just 3 stars for now, but I’ll bet on it being 5 by the next show.

  2. Avatar

    Was well funny! Was original mix of old-school themes with mad new angles to play with your head. Gonna see them again as going to Edinburgh in August. Can’t wait as they fluffed a few times. I reckon it would go down better somewhere like Ed or even Aukland where I’m from originally, cos the tiny audience didn’t seem to be open to new stuff. There was this well mad joke with one of them dressed up like a massive dandelion with a lump in his cheek that made him talk so funny – I was in pain trying not to laugh loud as nearly everyone else sat there like they was at a funeral. Then like a pixie cures the lump cos its just his tongue – reminded me of Moon in Mighty Boosh but with a joke too. The reviewer above top, made me laugh cos the ad lib section inside a sketch was so obviously only a pretend ad lib cos that was part of the joke. And she’s reviewing comedy? Sure they mucked up a fair bit to be honest but I’d sooner watch a crazy, original, clever new show done a bit wobbly – than some standard jobby all polished like. Can’t wait to see these guys agin when they’ve really got it together. Nice one!