Bruce Hams' Bananatown
With the help of my friend Chris I took a show up to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival called Bruce Hammers' Bananapocalypse (to amuse myself, when asked about the show, I deliberately gave slighty altered but wrong titles such as "Barry Hammers Bananatime" or "Bob Hoskins Heeeey-bananas!" simply in order to confuse people - I'm a terrible publicist), I performed the show daily at 3:35pm in a lovely venue on cowgate (a venue called Just up the Stairs located at Just the Tonic at The Caves).
It was about the rise and fall of fictional movie star Bruce Hammers and his 1982 blockbuster Bananapocalypse - which was a sort of Escape from New York meets Blade Runner style science fiction film and so I borrowed elements of that for the poster design which looked ace (scroll down for that and other pictures from the show). The show was again supposed to be a kind of "character comedy" but my efforts towards characterisation, much as they had been the year before, extended no further than putting on different clothes and changing my name a couple of times. Sue me.
Other sections included Bruce Hammers' explanation for why he stopped being the 4th Dr Who owing in part to a new dog companion and the fact that the budget of the programme could not stretch to cover the expensive royalties needed to license and play the sounds of horses, so the cheaper sounds of ducks and sheep were used as a substitute whenever a horse appeared; a video clip of a buddy cop film called Bridge where one of the police officers was an actual bridge; an emotional discussion about how Bruce's first wife had been born with a thumb for a nose causing her to flag down a taxi into her own face on their wedding day; and the Brainbot 2000, the most advanced computer in the world which was used to generate sketch ideas for Jon Culshaw's Impressions Show.
All in all the show was a lot of fun to perform as it was always different every day; not only was there a lot of audience interaction (with mixed results when I invariably pulled an utter fool on stage) but the Brainbot 2000 was a genuinely real robot which when prompted would spontaneously come up with different Jon Culshaw style sketches every day. Some days it would be genius and it would be really funny but every now and then it would go mad and just talk about people cooking and it would look like I had planned that to happen and people thought I was an idiot. Lesson learned; never work with a robot in comedy. The only other problem was that during two of the shows I gave women panic attacks (one of them burst into tears on stage, and during a show that I was being reviewed - typical) and on another day a guy threw a bottle at me. Classic Ewins.
Click on the images below to bring them full size:
"Ewins lopes onto the stage in a long coat and eye-patch as 80‘s movie star Bruce Hammers and declares that the show "ran eight minutes short yesterday" so he was therefore going to "flesh it out" by talking to the audience. This had me worried, however when Ewins proceeded to flip up his eye-patch and launched into the audience "banter" section of his show it was clear how much of an experienced stand-up performer Ewins is... [he] spends the majority of his show bemusing and abusing his audience, however he does it so masterfully that he still has them in stitches... the whole show is silly, occasionally aggressive but always oddly charming and side-splitingly funny... [however] it certainly wasn’t a show with any kind of comprehensive "plot" or explainable character changes... [but] despite its issues, "Bruce Hammers’ Bananapocalypse" is an incredibly silly, odd and very entertaining hour. Ewins’ potential as a stand-up and character comedian is very apparent and with some polish... he would be a comedic force to be reckoned with." Fringe Review
"Mat Ewins is a naturally funny guy and his character-driven Fringe show Bruce Hammers’ Bananapocalypse certainly reflects this... The format is all over the place, with only a passing nod to reason or formal narrative. This anarchic feel is no doubt deliberate and in places it undeniably adds to the show; however, there are moments where the oddball antics overwhelm the audience and muffle the humour... That aside there is plenty to love here, with moments of hilarity spurred on by Ewins infuriated, impatient wit. His interaction with the audience is priceless and he deals well with unplanned slip-ups and faults." Broadway Baby
"Relative newcomer Mat Ewins "stars" as Bruce Hammers... That's about as much as you get that's sensical about this show, it's a gloriously chaotic hour that tumbles through Hammers' fictitious career... [Including] his brief stint as the fourth Doctor Who with a home-made dog companion made of sex aids... The highlight here are Ewins' films or rather "clips" from the eponymous film where Ewins game-fully plays all the parts in different wigs and glasses to explain the banana apocalypse that's been caused by a surfeit or deficit of bananas, or maybe an influx of illegal ones? To be honest we're not sure which. But one thing's for certain at its helm Ewins/Hammers is a charming and endearing presence and the whole piece is full of knockabout humour even if it all makes little sense." The List
"HOLY COW I'VE SEEN A GREAT SHOW IN EDINBURGH: Bruce Hammers' Bananapocalypse 3.35, The Caves. I mean how can you not love a show called that" David O'Doherty (twitter)