CB: How long have you been gigging in comedy?
LS: We’ve been gigging for just over a year now. Our first gig was January 2014.
If that’s a typo and there’s an ‘l’ missing and that’s actually a question about how long we’ve been corpsing for – I’d have to say from the very, very beginning.
CB: How would you describe your comedy?
LS: Some observational, character-based sketch comedy. A bit of cabaret. A bit of music, a bit of ‘variety show’ and a bit of whimsy. Generally, shining a light on idiocy and insecurity, unpicking the absurdity in everyday situations to encourage looking at things in a different way.
CB: Which comedians influence your comedy?
LS: Smack the Pony. Big Train. Cowards. Green Wing. Cardinal Burns. The Fast Show.
CB: Did you always want to go into comedy?
LS: I think all of us enjoyed making people laugh when we were younger (siblings, parents, the occasional friend). But I for one (Rhys) never considered myself funny growing up, my school friends were, and still are, much funnier than me. I revered stand-ups and actors like Fry & Laurie and Rowan Atkinson and thought that they were sort of demi-gods. Then I went to university, did a play, and people laughed at me in what was not, strictly, a comedy role. I realised I was funny theatrically somehow, like someone who’s wandered onto the stage by accident. So I decided I’d better harness that. Also, no one else was employing us.
CB: How do you go about writing your material?
LS: Informal chats on Phoebe’s roof seem to be the most fertile breeding ground. We throw ideas about that we’ve all had and noted down on our phones. We disagree, we drink pints of tea and coffee and watch YouTube and read Buzzfeed and show holiday snaps and regale each other with tales of waitressing and tutoring and then suddenly someone will go: “what if…?” And the day hasn’t been a total waste.
CB: Do you gig as a comedy performer full time or is it more of a part-time hobby? If so, do you find that your main job influences your material?
LS: We all have other jobs. And they’re all great inspiration. You meet all sorts serving burgers in the O2 Arena (Lewis and Rhys). At the other end of the spectrum you meet some ridiculous characters tutoring the children of oligarchs (Phoebe and Rhys). Phoebe does children’s parties, Bella sings, teaches singing, used to run a restaurant and now works in an office. We honestly have a grain silo’s worth of material somewhere on someone’s computer that we’ve earmarked for filming based purely on encounters at work.
CB: What do you find the most enjoyable and frustrating parts of the comedy circuit?
LS: We love meeting other acts. We’re really new to it all, and we come from a straight ‘acting’ background which can be a very lonely and introspective existence, so it’s nice to have a load of like-minded people to support and collaborate with etc. Sketch comedians are all lovely too.
The only thing we get frustrated with is how hard it is to find the time to all meet up. We all have so many part-time jobs to stay afloat and we’re all actors with acting agents and auditions (sometimes) and we do have families and friends and lives too. So a lot of the time we work very intensely, very close to the deadline of ‘the next show’. Whereas, our best stuff, as I mentioned before, definitely comes out of extended sessions of ‘play’. If there is a time pressure, or even a pressure to feel ‘productive’, you often don’t explore an idea to its limits or go down pathways that seem silly and difficult but which could eventually yield the greatest (and most original) results. So the goal is to get paid. How’s that for original?
CB: What’s your favourite type of audience to perform to?
LS: A packed house of people who genuinely don’t know what to expect.
CB: Have you been heckled a lot since you’ve started gigging? Do you enjoy being heckled? What’s the best heckle you’ve had?
LS: We’ve never been heckled. Our style is often quite theatrical so there’s a fourth wall and suspension of disbelief etc so audiences don’t feel as if they can heckle as it would genuinely undermine some of the imaginative commitment in the room. When we do open it out to the audiences though, and we get them on stage in some sketches – it’s been actually a lot funnier when they don’t play ball.
CB: What advice would you give to new acts thinking of starting out in comedy?
LS: Book a venue. Just book it. Put a bit of money up, make the tickets cheap, get your family and friends in. Maybe get 2 or 3 acts together, split the costs, do a little bit each, you’ve got 3 sets of family and friends then. I’m the sort of romantic idiot (Rhys) who will like the idea of something but never do it. If you have a deadline, you’ll write something. If it’s good, do it again. If it’s not, interrogate why, then do it again until it is. And make a website. Then do it a few more times. Then put it on YouTube. Et voila. Fame.