Michael Kunze is an award-winning comedian, writer, director, and improvisor based in London. You may have seen him at the Fringe in 2022 in the one-man musical comedy show ‘Lil Saffron: Ragú to Riches‘. 2024 sees him turning to character comedy as a deluded Hollywood superstar in ‘Infinity Mirror’. We spoke to Michael about his character Mitch Cooney, celebrity narcissism, and his hopes and expectations for August.

Can you tell us about ‘Infinity Mirror?’

‘Infinity Mirror’ is a one man sketch show about the rise and fall of actor Mitch Cooney in Hollywood, with lots of silly character bits and fun songs. It’s about celebrity and the cost of fame. Mitch takes himself very seriously, but the show thankfully doesn’t – it’s meant to be an hour of joy with a message for those of the audience looking for one and just a really good time for those who aren’t. It’s a choose your own adventure that way. I hope people choose to come.

Where did the character of Mitch Cooney come from? Is he based on anyone in particular?

The show was conceived as I was walking along the Thames, only half-listening to a podcast because I was busy imagining what I would say in response to the dumb questions the interviewer was asking. It made me laugh when I realized what I was doing, cuz it’s so pretentious, but the more I spoke to friends about it, the more I realized it wasn’t as uncommon as I thought. So Mitch was originally developed as an extension of the more narcissistic aspects of myself (the eagle-eyed amongst you will notice some similarities between our names), but as the character developed, he took on a more folksy bent. I’m obsessed with how celebrities talk about themselves, the storytelling, the self-mythologizing, the grandiosity – I wanted to capture all of that in Mitch.

What’s your approach to writing a show like this? Do you workshop a character in front of an audience, or do you try and have the essence of it in place before you perform it?

I know a lot of people will develop shorter pieces gigging around town, and in some ways I wish I worked like that, but I prefer to just write a whole hour and then perform it and readjust from there. It’s not the most efficient way, but it’s just the way I work and I like to think it helps me keep the arc of the piece as a whole in mind. That said, I did share a lot of the characters in the show in my writers’ group, so they weren’t totally untested, but it was only after I put the show together that I performed them.

‘Infinity Mirror’ is your debut solo hour. What are your hopes and expectations for the month?

I sincerely that hope all my fantastical dreams come true, but my expectations are somewhat less ambitious (aka more realistic). I’d love to have the show be seen and enjoyed by loads of people, to find those people who love the show and will come see my next one – and bring friends to it! Any industry notice would be icing on the cake. I’m hoping this show can be a calling card of my abilities as a performer and writer and if I could get a comedy-oriented agent out of the whole thing I’d be delighted. Other that that, I’m expecting to inevitably lose money but have a good time.

You performed at the Fringe in 2022 with ‘Lil Saffron: Ragu to Riches’. What for you are the best and worst thing about the Fringe?

I loved that show and in many ways it was so successful, and it led to many more exciting opportunities in my creative life, but I made so many mistakes! So many mistakes! The worst thing about Fringe (for me) is it’s such an unpredictable beast – no matter how much you prepare (and believe me, I tried), there’s gonna be things that go wrong that are ultimately out of your control. You just have to forgive yourself and move on. The best thing is that you are in a place where there are so many people doing incredible and inspiring things, and you’re probably there with some of your best friends, so it’s just non-stop fun.

Beside ‘Infinity Mirror’ can we expect to see you performing elsewhere during August?

Yes you can! As well as ‘Infinity Mirror’, I’ll be performing with ‘Crime Scene Improvisation‘ most days. It’s a really fun improvised murder mystery show with a lovely audience. Come see it after you’ve watched my solo show (they’re almost back to back). I’ll also be guesting on a few improv shows when I’m not too exhausted.

Are there any other acts at the Fringe that you would recommend audiences see?

Too many to list! I have some friends and people I admire taking shows up that I would recommend people check out: Mandeep Singh’s ‘Singing in the Rain’, Posey Mehta’s ‘Mitzi Fitz’, Suchandrika Chakrabarti’s ‘Doomscrolling’, ‘My Brain is Soup Your Hands are the Spoons‘ by Chris East, ‘CrimeLandTown’ by Ben Goldsmith. I’m gonna stop typing now but there’s so much more.

Infinity Mirror‘ is at Underbelly Cowgate – Delhi Belly from Thu 1 Aug to Sun 25 Aug 2024 (except Mon 12)