I was a bit nervous about seeing Funz and Gamez Tooz. I’d previously seen Phil Ellis’ 2013 Edinburgh show, Unplanned Orphan. I thought it was brilliant, but difficult to describe without giving away what was great about it. It was shambolic and divisive; not many people (critics included) ‘got it.’ He was a comedian who wasn’t for everybody. Then in 2014, he put on a kid’s show. The idea of Phil Ellis trying to entertain a roomful of kids bordered on objectionable, but somehow it worked, and it won awards. This year he’s back, in a big tent in the middle of George Square. I stood at the back of a long line of parents with small children, some still in buggies. What could go wrong?
Of course, it’s all harmless in the end. Most, if not all, of the jokes are geared towards adults, but they fly over the kid’s heads. The gags occasionally creep up to the line between good taste and “Oh, God, you really can’t say that in front of anyone, let alone children,” but they never cross it. For their part, the kids are content to be given sweets every five minutes and take part in incredibly stupid Gamez. There wasn’t as many crying children as I thought there’d be.
It’s a team effort. Ellis is joined by Will Duggan, Jim Meehan and Mick Ferry, all of whom are impressive. They frequently corpse and improvise, giving the show an unpredictable excitement. Part of the appeal for adults is that feeling of “I can’t believe they’re getting away with this.” Unprofessional, inappropriate, and a lot of fun(z).