Rogue Pun
Exploring the hyperspaces between sci-fi, comics and comedy

Alasdair Beckett-King.

Alasdair Beckett-King is Very Animated

We've quite possibly already seen the best 100 seconds of this year's Edinburgh Fringe, and it's still only early July. Alasdair Beckett-King is not only the drollest of wordsmiths, he's also adroit at animation, it transpires; his new stand-up show - The Interdimensional ABK - comes complete with... well, what is this?

Pow! Now that promotional trailer/title sequence/trippy fantasy might look curiously familiar if you're of a particular vintage and grew up with certain epic cartoon series, some of which were dubbed pretty randomly into English and wound up seriously weird. No wonder the world is in such a state.

The omni-talented comic is taking that animation - and the show it accompanies - to Scotland imminently, so we asked him how on earth The Best 100 Seconds of the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe (Quite Possibly) happened, and about the show itself, and ended up watching the whole first episode of Ulysses 31. Freaky.

Fill us in on your new animated thing - Is it inspired by a particular TV show?

The trailer for my show is a spoof of bombastic 1980s cartoon theme tunes. There are references to Thundercats, Ulysses 31 and Bravestarr, but only the coolest people will spot all of them.

I have to say that you don't NEED to be a nerd in your mid-thirties to come to the show, or even enjoy the trailer. People keep telling me that their kids love it - which is probably due to the very catchy theme song by the composer and comedian Lawrence Owen (I say 'composer and comedian' so you know that I don't mean the American figure-skater Laurence Owen).

How does an idea like that pop into your head, exactly?

I'm self-employed, which means I spend a lot of time watching YouTube. I stumbled on the intro to Ulysses 31, which I'd never watched as a kid, and it's amazing, of course.

But also, Ulysses looks a bit like me - except he has eyebrows and a fringe shaped like a moustache (video).

I didn't know whether it would be a good idea to spend bloody ages doing a spot-on pastiche for an Edinburgh Fringe show. But the only way to know if something is a terrible idea is to do it with full commitment and then find out afterwards.

Alasdair Beckett-King.

Can you talk us through the process of making that trailer?

I started by sending some lyrics to Laurence Owen, who is a musical genius (and you should see the boy figure-skate). I'm too musically ignorant to understand how he did it, but he produced a brilliant synthy-rocky track that I now play whenever I need cheering up.

Meanwhile, I used traditional 2D animation software to create the visuals as authentically as possible. I shot lots of reference videos using a webcam, and did a bit of 3D animation for the spaceships. Painstakingly rotoscoping and drawing hundreds of frames by hand is ludicrously labour-intensive, but it's the only way to create the effect I wanted.

Alasdair Beckett-King.

Each shot probably took two to three days, but I spaced it out over many, many months. If this answer sounds dull, bear in mind I've made it sound 100 times more exciting than actually doing the animation was.

What's your favourite bit?

The best part about the video is playing it to people and seeing happy smiles on the bearded faces of 37 year-old men.

Will it actually feature in your show?

Yes! My Edinburgh show starts with the video. The thing about those 1980s cartoons is that the title sequences always had AMAZING animation, and then the quality of the shows that followed was often very poor. That couldn't possibly happen to me though, so don't worry.

So what's The Interdimensional ABK about?

My show is about a parallel dimension called the A Timeline, where everything is perfect - versus the crummy, broken B Timeline that we're all stuck in now. It's also about entropy, which is the tendency for things to start out coherently and then fall into chaos. Which, now that you mention it, doesn't bode well either.

The point is, the show has lots of jokes, applause breaks that are not always initiated by me and I don't say the word 'Brexit' in it once. What more could you ask for?

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