Liverpool Biennial 2012:
The Kazimier (23)

Art Like Liverpool Cathedral, The Kazimier was utilised by the Biennial for a single event, and perhaps only someone with a collector mentality would understand why I’d still seek it out knowing that fact. Perhaps. As you can see there isn’t a sign on the front, which because of the ambiguousness of the red spot on the Biennial’s map meant I walked around the block twice looking for it, eventually asking for directions at the Liverpool Academy of Arts and the Cream office next door, or at least the intercom. There it is hidden behind Jorge Pardo’s Penelope sculpture.

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The club’s website has details of what I missed. Simon Munnery (also known by his stage names of Alan Parker: Urban Warrior and The League Against Tedium) devised new material especially for the Biennial event that was run in conjunction with the Liverpool Comedy Festival. My favourite fact about Munnery is that early in his career he wrote computer games for 8-bit computers, especially the VIC-20, ZX81 and the Spectrum. I also love that when Stewart Lee put that in one of his books, some readers thought that was one of his lies or exaggerations.

The other performer that night was Welsh artist Bedwyr Williams, who the booklet says told the story of “Emlyn from North Wales who visits Liverpool to research a branch of his family tree and how things turn nasty for him at the microfiche machine. We will hear about the cousins who hold their breath whilst travelling through the Mersey tunnels, the melancholy Ellen and a thuggish man who insists on being called ‘Half Uncle’.” He’s a performance artist whose stage identities include the Grim Reaper, a windswept Welsh bard, a Lithuanian woodsman and a rubber dinghy (source).

Lord knows what I would have made of this. I’ve been considering lately, or at least for the purposes of filling a few paragraphs I have, what it is I find funny. I recently watched the film Superbad and sat stony-faced throughout, yet some people think it’s the funniest film of that year, even that decade. I laughed right through Whit Stillman’s Damsels in Distress and wanted to be Greta Gerwig’s character by the end even though I’m a boy. You could look at that and think that I’ve developed a more sophisticated sense of humour.

But that also makes me sound smug and I don’t think I am, at least not in that way. I suppose I like wordplay, situational wordplay. With slapstick I tend to laugh less at the pratfall than the reactions. But a sense of reality also seems to be important. If someone’s telling a humorous story, it needs a grain of truth to it. I love David Sedaris’s biographical anecdotes. I can’t stand David Sedaris’s allegorical animals. I like self-deprecating humour and embarrassment but I’m less comfortable if it’s happening to fictional characters.

Which is inconsistent, but I’m an inconsistent person. I’ve seen all of Friends but not Frasier. Some drama series can be funnier than sitcoms, The West Wing, The Wire even Fringe when Walter Bishop is himself at his most inconsistent. I like the surprise switch between comedy and tragedy, and I like subversive humour so long as, apparently it doesn’t tip over into sick. But I think the Marvin moment in Pulp Fiction is hilarious so that doesn’t make sense either. So really, I’m not sure which way my sense of humour compass is pointing.

Updated! 14/11/2013 Disappearing into the depths of Vimeo, I've found that Liverpool Biennial have uploaded a video of the gig. Here it is.

Simon Munnery & Bedwyr Williams from Liverpool Biennial on Vimeo.

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