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REVIEW – Phil Zimmerman in “Killing Granny”


Pictured: Comedian and actor Phil Zimmerman on the hunt for some grannies (Photography by Ed Moore)

Basil Valentine
21st Century Wire

There is something very fitting about seeing Phil Zimmerman’s latest show “Killing Granny” at the Brighton Fringe Festival. For the first time in decades, I visited the Royal Pavilion last week with an American friend visiting for the first time and among the treasures in that uniquely empirical marvel are contemporary cartoons by the likes of I.W. Turst which lambast the Prince Regent for his over indulgence and general foppery.

Fast-forward 200 years and the threat posed by Napoleon had been replaced by an airborne virus – or so we are told – and the hedonist Prince by an equally vain and vainglorious national figurehead in Boris Johnson. Not that Zimmerman wastes time on the ephemera of “Partygate”, rather he attacks the whole Covid farrago at its weakest points, which are revealed to be legion.

A mixture of physical comedy and wit, Killing Granny could only have been created by Phil Zimmerman, who has sharpened his innate zaniness into a sword of truth. Phil is also in possession of a particularly mobile face and has a Harpoesque ability to contort it into all manner of hideous masks; something he does with alacrity over the course of the show, using exaggeration both for comic effect and to drive home his point. Hence, his impersonations are caricatures; modern day versions of the etchings that hang on the Pavilion walls, grotesques in the best seaside tradition. They recall the hideous effigies in the now defunct Louis Tussaud’s Waxworks on the seafront, but Zimmerman captures the essence of his victims with far greater veracity than any inanimate statue could ever possibly achieve. His Bill Gates is genuinely disturbing, the nerdiness unveiled as a creepiness which makes it impossible to watch the billionaire drug pusher with the same eyes again. Boris Johnson is simultaneously ridiculous and terrifying, but as with the actual Prime Minister, he unleashes all the bluster and guffawing with very little substance.

Very much in Phil’s favour is that he is a naturally funny man. His asides to the audience bring some of the biggest laughs and break the third wall to reassure us that he is human after all. Not only does he have the confidence and experience to hold the audience’s attention for the full hour, but also to take them with him on a journey through the nonsense of the last two years – before we all forget.

The audience is very much part of Phil’s show, and a willingness to join in the fun helps. Phil’s enthusiasm is infectious, and his message is on point; nowhere more in evidence than in the rousing finale song. If you see Killing Granny advertised anywhere go and see it. It’ll definitely make you laugh, and you might well learn something too. Highly recommended.

See Phil Zimmerman in Killing Granny at this year’s Brighton Fringe Festival on June 3rd, 4th and 5th – for information and tickets visit Brighton Fringe. Also follow Phil on Instagram

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