Comedy blog

Michael Brunstrom on the unfunny inspirations for his comedy

michael brunstrom  golden age of steam
Laugh Out London asked me to share five clips of things that have inspired my comedy. The catch? They must be non-comedy things. Well, if you’ve seen my act, you might not be very surprised to learn that much of my inspiration comes from things that aren’t comedy.

1. The Falls (1980) is a fake documentary by Peter Greenaway, consisting of short biographies of 92 survivors of the Violent Unknown Event (VUE), a disaster in the near-future that has left 19 million people in Britain physically disfigured, sterile, immortal, speaking new languages and identifying with birds. It is full of absurd statistics and arbitrary connections and non sequiturs. And it is beautifully made. Here is biography number 88.

2. Franzl Lang is the greatest yodeller in the world. If ever I’m feeling glum, I watch this clip of the ‘Yodelking’ singing ‘I Like to Hear a Yodel’. He is a superlative and inspiring performer and a joy to behold.

3. This haunting piece of music is a setting by Charles Koechlin of a poem by Rudyard Kipling. It describes a mother seal sitting on an ice floe singing a soothing lullaby to her seal pup. I used it as background music to an act where I stand in a bucket whilst reciting an article from Yachting Monthly magazine.

4. The word ‘surrealism’ was first coined by the French poet Apollinaire to describe the ballet Parade (1917) by Picasso, Satie, Cocteau and Massine. According to Apollinaire, surrealism represents the world directly – without reproducing it – through a synthesis of the most vivid means possible. Parade draws on circus, jazz music and early cinema, and its orchestral score includes parts for typewriter, foghorn and milk bottles. At the ballet’s première, the dancing horse caused the audience to riot.

5. Lindsay Anderson’s O Lucky Man! (1973) is without doubt my favourite film of all time. Anderson made a distinction between ‘mini’ and ‘epic’ works of art. Mini art is unimportant, rubbish, not layered and realistic, while epic stuff is layered, important and poetic. O Lucky Man! is epic, and so is my show, The Golden Age of Steam.

Michael Brunström: The Golden Age of Steam
Heroes @ The Hive
18–23 August 2015, 4:10pm
£5 or PWYW

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