YouTube’s a great thing. Between adorable cats doing not much and amateur karaoke hour, there are seemingly endless aeons of internet space for comedy. Sketch, stand-up, absurdist- the Tubes is your oyster. This is where many people discovered UK sketch quartet Idiots of Ants; their ‘Facebook in Real Life’ was a huge internet sensation (I think ‘viral’ is the term the kids use), and the Edinburgh and Montreal Festival- seasoned group have now hit audiences even further worldwide. They now visit Australia for their debut slot in the 2012 Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
T-SQUAT chatted to one-fourth of the Ants cadre, Elliott Tiney, about what makes a sketch comedy group tick.
What’s the key to a good sketch comedy project? How do you guys work together?
1. A good comedy sketch needs a great idea. The thing that we enjoy the most about putting together our shows is having quirky, innovative ideas and then figuring out how to make them work.
2. Great jokes. The measure of success in a sketch show is the laugh count. We try to cram in as many as possible.
3. Variety. We like to experiment with as many theatrical styles as possible. We try to play with form and content as much as we can so as to give our audience a different experience in every skit.
4. The most important thing to remember when writing a sketch show is: some sketches are just not funny! We do lots of preview shows and trial sketches that we find hilarious, but if the audience don’t agree, then we have to swallow our pride, cross it out and start again. Luckily for Australia, the sketches that we are doing on this tour have been rigorously road- tested.
What’s the key to a good biscuit?
The key to a good biscuit is the drink that you dunk it in. From tea to gravy, coffee to soup… moisture is the key. Also, raisins. What a silly question.
You’ve had a lot of attention on YouTube; do you think this is the best way for entertainers to promote themselves as the digital age continues on?
YouTube is awesome. It is such a great way to get material seen and to get feedback on it instantly.We seem to be at a crossroads in terms of how people access entertainment and how that entertainment is funded… if the future of comedy is online, then we intend to be there.
What’s the funniest sketch YOU’VE ever seen?
We are avid Python fans. We got to work with John Cleese at the Just For Laughs Gala show in Montreal. Watching him in rehearsal and seeing his meticulous attention to detail, the way in which rewrote punch lines and experimented with nuances right up until walking on stage, was very inspiring.
The British seem to be the best at sketch comedy (and panel shows). Why is that?
There is a really big live scene for sketch comedy back home. So many good acts produce such great, funny work. We find that seeing the amazing work of our peers is what encourages us to be more creative.
Idiots of Ants will be performing their debut, self-titled show from Thursday March 29 – Sunday April 22 at Melbourne Town Hall’s Powder Room. Head here for info and tickets or check out the Ants’ website.
FOR FANS OF: Monty Python, wacky yet dry British humour.
Words: Lisa Dib