IT’S FUNTIME! ORDER OF PLAY
‘IT’S BASICALLY A PUB CONVERSATION THAT GOT OUT OF HAND’
The group first noticed the small gap in the market for their unique event back in April 2009. After entering a dull fund-raising quiz night at a local school they saw the opportunity for the humble pub quiz to be glitzed up. ‘It was conceived with a gameshow-type quality,’ says Lee, ‘mostly It’s a Knockout and The Generation Game, with a bit of Indoor League with Fred Trueman thrown in. At first we wanted to put it on every month like a clubnight. But the people who run clubnights, they aren’t having to make all the records every time are they?’
set-up were The sheer technical challenges of the original It’s Funtime almost insurmountable, as Lee remembers. ‘One of the original rounds featured ducks suspended on a rotating glitterball motor. The contestants had to catch these ducks and put them in a paddling pool. We persisted with that for ages, before realising that a big volume of water in the middle of the room was just asking for trouble. I used to have very serious conversations with the technical guy about rigging this thing up, which I’d started to call the DSU – the Duck Suspension Unit. “No, we can’t put the DSU up here . . .” etc.’
The ducks have now been ditched, and replaced with a finale that involves the impressive-looking robots (with contestants inside them) rushing to build a toppling tower of It’s Funtime blocks with childlike clumsiness. Lee himself created the suits. He also buys up the motley assortment of prizes that are dished out at the end of the night, though he admits this is mostly to satisfy his fascination with collecting junk from Edinburgh’s Greenside car boot sale. The List, in a previous win at Funtime, picked up an African fertility doll, an electric muscle-toning system and 1000 flying saucer sweets – relevatively normal prizes compared to Lee’s favourites: ‘An aerial photograph of a Leeds suburb. Out-of-date cheese. A three-foot wooden cavalier nutcracker wearing a velvet cloak . . .’
Lee has another role which he is less willing to admit to – he watches the cheesy 70s porn films that are used for the quiz’s observation round. Finding a suitable skin flick for the upcoming Festive Funtime has been proving an issue. ‘I just can’t find a film from the 70s with knockers in it and Santa. It’s impossible – a venn diagram that doesn’t exist.’
The ‘why’ of It’s Funtime is easy to answer –
28 THE LIST 17 Nov–15 Dec 2011
It’s Funtime’s regular rounds are where champions are made. Would you have the mettle for the following tests?
TOWER OF STRENGTH One contestant from each team is nominated to hold a pint of pennies at arms length for as long as they can manage. The pints are attached to party poppers dangling from the ceiling – your arm drops, the party popper goes off and you’re out. Any time over five minutes is very respectable.
BALLOON ART A creative round. Contestants must transform one of their team members into a character or object using only modelling balloons. Points are awarded for the most artistically impressive interpretations of themes such as ‘the nativity’.
GUESS THE NUMBER How many Princes Street shoppers could be persuaded to kiss a tinsel-covered Funtime robot in one hour? Make your best guess and then watch the video to find out how much action a mistletoe-carrying mechanoid can pick up.
LIMBO Simply a classic. One person from each team competes in a sudden death limbo competition (girls are officially advised against short skirts).
OBSERVATION ROUND Watch a five-minute clip of a dubious 70s sex comedy (think Robin Askwith-era muckiness) and remember as much as you can about the costumes, sets and dodgy dialogue.
ROBOTS The winning team gets the opportunity to dress up as Funtime robots. Contestants must then use their clumsy metal claws to stack increasingly small blocks spelling It’s Funtime.
KERCHINKO MACHINE The prize round features the impressive Kerchinko machine – a unique Funtime invention that uses ping pong balls dropped through a grid of pegs to select which bizarre gifts the winners will be taking home. Will it be the Argos toaster, or the aerial photograph of a Leeds suburb? The excitement is almost too much . . .
well, why not? The event uses retro touchstones and mock seriousness to create something that is silly and throwaway in the Great British comedy tradition. Like man’s mission to the moon, humanity should need no more reason to make a Duck Suspension Unit than to see if it can be done, and we should all be able to get off from the phone from Ofcom long enough to see that. As for where they get the time, there are, doubtless, many late nights and early mornings go into event preparation. It’s a level of commitment usually reserved for the avid hobbyist. Ultimately, Lee insists, it’s all worth it. ‘We had a group of bullet-headed men from Wigan in on a stag do. Obviously someone had Googled “having a fun time” in Edinburgh. They looked really quite hostile, but in the Tower of Strength they started to get into it. The bloke from their team holding the pint of pennies had arms like legs, and his mates were all up out of their seats shouting, ‘come on Norman!’ Norman went for ten-and-a-half minutes, which was incredible. They won, ultimately, and carried Norman on their shoulders like Bobby Moore, him holding a £4 toaster from Argos like he’d won the world cup. We thought, we’ve given these fellas this moment.’
It’s Funtime, Bongo Club, Edinburgh, Sat 10 Dec, 7.30pm, £5 per person.