John-Luke Roberts and Thom Tuck - Alternative Comedy Memorial Society
I've said it before and I'll say it again: an interview just isn't an interview without decent footnotes. And if you really want to do things properly, those footnotes need their own footnotes. I mean that's just textbook. Literally.
Ok, so maybe annotations are, in fact, a little unusual, but in this case it is simply left-field form perfectly matching left-field content. Thom Tuck (left of the picture; with whom you may be more familiar as a Penny Dreadful) and John-Luke Roberts (who Distracted Us From A Murder at last year's Edinburgh Fringe) are joining forces to launch their own comedy night at the New Red Lion Theatre on 8th March, and to properly reflect the ambitious nature of their exciting venture, the email chat which follows here is a challenging piece of work (and very, very funny). Enjoy...
It feels like comedy is in pretty good health in London at the moment - what made you decide to set up your own comedy night?
Thom: J-Luke & myself certainly have no right to take on the might of the capital's comedy scene.
John-Luke (italics): We have the right but not necessarily the means*.
But, we do think there is a little gap (read niche) for strange (read niche) comedy. We both wanted to start a night, and we chatted about it during Edinburgh last year, deciding that joining forces to halve the admin was a clever idea. Unfortunately, it's actually more work keeping track of what J-Luke is doing.
This isn't fair at all, I turned my back for one minute, and then Thom had booked two hundred acts for each night**. But, we're getting there & hopefully it won't be a stonking failure. Hopefully it will be a stonkingly good failure.
* I know not what he means by 'means'.
** I had to - no one was replying to J-Luke's emails1.
1 This is sadly true.
The night has the rather lengthy title 'The Alternative Comedy Memorial Society (or, The Captain Planet Repertory Theatre Company)', plus the tagline "the venue, at least, will be accessible!" I get the feeling you'd like it to be a little out-of-the-ordinary...?
One title is mine, one is J-Luke's [GAP]*.
We kept them both because we don't believe in compromise, or settling disputes like grown ups**. The aim of the night is basically for comedians to try out things they wouldn't be able to elsewhere. Straightforward stand-up is banned***, and risky but possibly brilliant things are encouraged****.
* I can't remember what I was going to put in here.
** Pistols at dawn.2
*** 'Banned' is a very strong word. And one with which I agree wholeheartedly. There are enough stand-up nights in London.3
**** And, hopefully, appreciated.
2 This reminds me of the old saying - 'Pistols at Dawn, Wangers by Bedtime'.
3 We will be encouraging straightforward stand-ups to come along and leap from their glossy suits outside of their comfort zones.
You've gathered a huge list of brilliant comics for the first night on 8th March - Will Andrews, Nat Luurtsema, Terry Saunders, Dan Antopolski, Tony Law and loads more, plus yourselves of course - how are you planning to squeeze them all in, set-wise or, indeed, physically?
That, my dear, would be telling. (We have no clue).
We are considering pioneering 'simultaneous, non-collaborative performance', whereby several acts have to perform their acts simultaneously without paying any attention to each other*. Also, if you think the first one is overfull, just wait until you see the rest**. I used to be furious when I was bumped from the Book Club because it had been overbooked, now I fear I will become what I most hate (Robin Ince)***.
* This is not a lie.
** We are hoping some of our favourite comedians die before then (so we can run to time).
*** We all hate Robin Ince. 4
4 Possibly none more so than Robin Ince himself, and God †.
† I know for a fact that God doesn't believe in Robin Ince.
Thom, you've dropped some tantalising hints about a few regular sections that will appear in ACMS, including the wonderful-sounding 'Will Andrews has a thing on his head' and 'Please welcome Jesus Christ'. Are you able to give us any more details?
How the hell did you find out? Someone kill her.
We are able to give no more details*, but rest assured we have planned thoroughly.
* Just to be contradictory, here's a detail: Will Andrews Has A Thing On His Head is a section of the show where Will Andrews will have a thing on his head. It is going to be astounding. Another detail: Jesus Christ won't appear till April. 5
5 I've just realised this is when Easter is. Spooky.
What do think 'success' will look like for ACMS?
There is no such thing for the ACMS (o, TCPRTC). We will endeavour to fail nobly for years to come.
It will come when 'ACMS' means Alternative Comedy Memorial Society, not The Association of Country Music awards. (The ACMs). Though we might just try to incorporate them*.
* I have nothing to add here.
Away from the new night, you're both also working on new shows - John-Luke, you've teamed up with Nadia Kamil again as The Behemoth, and Thom, you'll be talking Disney and heartbreak in your solo show '...Straight to DVD'. How are they coming along?
Brilliant. My show is going swimmingly after two previews. Two: that's a pattern, right?
Nadia and I have written a full Behemoth show all about Disney films which went straight to DVD, so I am slightly concerned to hear about Thom's plans.
Anything else to declare...?
I have torn my trousers* while showing off. (There will be much showing off).
I wanted to answer these questions straightforwardly, but Thom insisted upon this more complex and annoying system of annotations.
*Trouser Update: I have bought some new trousers.
Brought up on Blackadder, The Fast Show and, er, The High Life, Anna is a comedy fan through and through. A freelance arts critic, she has written about live and TV comedy for various publications including The Guardian, TV Scoop and MusicOMH.com, making her a very lucky lass indeed.
BBC Radio Comedy has announced the appointment of two new Contract Writers, Sarah Campbell and Liam Beirne. Read
Ben Miller is to star in Horrible Science, a new children's comedy-entertainment series for Children's ITV. Read
Isy Suttie will host acts including The Penny Dreadfuls, Frisky & Mannish, and Gein's Family Giftshop. Read
A 15-strong collective of comedians are hoping to raise more than laughs when they tackle Hadrian's Wall. Read
Catherine Tate is to return as her foul-mouthed OAP character Nan. She is set to record two specials for BBC TV. Read
Reece Shearsmith, Rufus Jones, Tim Key and Sharon Rooney are amongst the cast for BBC2 comic thriller Stag. Read
An interview with double act Rob Gotobed and Tony Knight. They provide lots of punchline filled answers. Read
Historian Graham McCann has revealed an aborted Morecambe & Wise sitcom pilot. Read
Tom Rosenthal and Naz Osmanoglu's Comedy Feeds sitcom Flat TV has been commissioned for a full series. Read
Laura Marks, the producer and director behind the BBC's Room To Write video sketches, shares some advice: Read
BBC Three's Cuckoo is to return for a third series. Greg Davies & Taylor Lautner will reprise their roles. Read
The BBC has announced six new pilots - SunnyD, Radges, People Time, Fishbowl, Dead Air and Funz And Gamez. Read
The Frog and Bucket club has celebrated its 21st birthday with a blue plaque for those that 'died' on its stage. Read
John Moloney introduces his new Radio 4 series and talks about how the comedy circuit is different nowadays. Read
A preview of Seriously Funny, a play at The Museum Of Comedy about Tony Hancock and Kenneth Williams. Read
In this article, comedy performer Inder Manocha discusses how ethnic comedy relates to the mainstream. Read
Sky1 sitcom Trollied will be back for a fifth series, star Jason Watkins (aka store manager Gavin) has confirmed. Read
Barry Ferns writes on the topic of what it means to 'make it' in comedy. Think carefully about your end goals. Read
Some of the stars of hit 1990s TV format Whose Line Is It Anyway? are reuniting for a series of live shows in London. Read
The winners of the BAFTA TV Awards 2015 have been revealed, including Jessica Hynes and Detectorists. Read
Lee Mack has revealed that his hit sitcom Not Going Out has not ended. It will return for a Christmas special. Read
BBC Three sitcom Crims has been dropped after just one series, the broadcaster has confirmed. Read
Nick Park and Aardman Animation, the creators of Wallace & Gromit and Shaun The Sheep, are making Early Man. Read
A guide to No Offence, the police-based comedy drama from the creator of Shameless. Lots more info: Read