An Interview with Mr Twonkey


The Mumble:  Hello Paul Vickers, or should I say Mr Twonkey, welcome to Mumble Towers, Now, who the hell is Mr Twonkey?

Mr Twonkey: Its what Monsieur Hulot was to Jacques Tati a kindly fool mirror of himself.

The Mumble: So which installment in the Twonkeyverse is this, & what other incarnations have their been?

Mr Townkey: This year’s incarnation is Twonkey’s Mumbo Jumbo Hotel, & previously there have been… Twonkey’s Cottage (2010) / Twonkey’s Castle (2011) Twonkey’s Kingdom (2012)  / Twonkey’s Blue Cadabra (2013 – but I was also still performing it in 2014) Twonkey’s Private Restaurant (2014-2015) & Twonkey’s Stinking Bishop (2015). This year, alongside Twonkey’s Mumbo Jumbo Hotel I shall also be performing Twonkey’s Drive-in, Jennifer’s Robot Arm – this one’s actually a play, the second part of a double-bill at the Edinburgh Fringe, at Sweet Venues, where I’ll be doing a play with some actors & myself at quarter past 5, & then at nine o clock in the evening I’ll be doing  Twonkey’s Mumbo Jumbo Hotel, which is my solo show

The Mumble: What is the future for Twonkey?

Mr Twonkey: Well, the future is a series of Fringe performances at the Brighton Fringe, the Wandsworth Fringe, the Museum of Comedy, the Buxton Fringe, the Prague Fringe & then finally ending up at the Edinburgh Fringe – so there’s a lot going on this year, I’ve got a lot more gigs than normal. What I’ve done in the past I’ve sort of flipped between two shows, at the beginning of the year I sometimes perform last year’s show & then later in the year bring in the new show, but this year I’m just gonna go all guns blazing with a completely new show from the off. The idea behind that is that’s its easier – I just need to practice one show & make sure I remember that. The hard thing about it is that I’m in the glare of the lights from the word go – so the first performances of Twonkey’s Mumbo Jumbo Hotel in its entirity will be at the Brighton Fringe, where usually I have perhaps a few more little warm-up gigs beforehand. Although I have been doing little spots here & there, sort of under the radar gigs that I haven’t been telling people about where I’ve been trying out the new material.

The Mumble: So what is this latest incarnation of Twonkey all about?

Mr Twonkey: Well.. the overall storyline of Twonkey’s Mumbo Jumbo Hotel is inspired by retail parks, because, y’know, of an evening I sometimes need things like paint, or a screwdriver, or a drill, that kind of thing, so I make my way up to the local retail park. But when I lived in Marchmont, I didn’t have the convenience of a retail park, so we had to go out of town in cars or on busses. It was when I was sitting in a retail park that I started thinking about Twonkey’s Mumbo Jumbo Hotel. The idea sort of stemmed from the new Frankies & Bennys that was being built at my local retail park. And it made me think about Frankies & Bennys & how they’ve started cropping up all over the place, offering sort of New York Italian food, fast & simple. I looked on Trip Advisor & found big variations in the quality of the stores depending on the management of the individual stores. I started thinking about the idea of the boxes arriving with all the vintage black & white photographs of baseball stars from years gone by, & thinking about how they would erect a store from scratch in the same way they do with McDonalds, where they basic look of the store so they almost look completely identical… & of course there’s also the idea of globalisation – none of which is funny. But then I started thinking about if there was a slightly dilapidated run by me & Chris Hutchinson – who’s is my lead puppet – & it was for some reason not achieving its financial goals. A little bit shoddily run, a bit Fawlty Towers I suppose  – but the idea is its under threat – the bulldozers are gonna come – they’re gonna bulldoze it down & then replace it with a Frankie & Bennys. But what’s happened is that its sort of evolved as a storyline & now its told in Miniature Theatre -so I’ve basically got a little doll’s house, a small one, which is now called The Mumbo Jumbo Hotel, & I’ve got some small figurines & starting to tell the story, essentially, so the story is sort of taking place in another place, which is difficult for me to access, so I talk about the idea that I could, like in Alice of Wonderland, I could drink a magical potion, I could shrink to the size of a needle & then I could drop down a chimney and into a fireplace & then I’d arrive in the lobby of the hotel. A lot of it is like I’m the microscope & the show is the paper, so its a viewing vessel & I use my own head to explore the ideas & the possibilities of the characters inside the miniature object. Its working out rather well. There is a positive message about gay marriage as well, that comes across very strongly towards the end of the show, very strongly. There are also a number of murders that take place during the show, & there’s a few people locked in toilets trying to avoid attacks & difficult questions about accountancy.

The Mumble: What does Mr Twonkey have in common with Paul Vickers?

Mr Twonkey: Well, we’re essentially the same beast, of course, because I am Twonkey. But really, Townley is like me if I was allowed to just be a really imaginative, interesting person all the time. Of course I’m not allowed to be that person all the time, its not fair on people. I need to do other things like work a job & provide people with money.

The Mumble:  What is your favorite Twonkeys?

Mr TwonkeyMy favorite Twonkeys is always the one I’m working on, because that’s the one where you have all your current ideas that are fresh & exciting to you obviously. But, you know, in time, when I stop doing Twonkeys, if I ever stop doing Twonkeys, I will be able to work out then which are my favorite ones. I think a big turning point for me was Twonkey’s Blue Cadabra, because that was the year that I got nominated for the Toast Award for best cabaret, & it was quite an explosive kind of year & I think the thing was that was the year I became Mr Twonkey because before that Twonkey had been a little small puppet that was half-dragon, half-witch, & also an accountant, but then she died during Twonkey’s Kingdom – we had her death – so I decided that I would continue the show. Originally it was only supposed to be a trilogy – Twonkey’s Cottage, Castle & Kingdom – & that was supposed to be it – but then of course people liked what I was doing, so I decided I had to continue with it, so I did Twonkey’s Blue Cadabra. So, from Twonkey’s Blue Cadabra onwards its been a slightly different show because I’ve been Mr Twonkey, & I’ve embodied Twonkey’s character, well supposedly. That’s partly to do with the fact that during Twonkey’s Kingdom Twonkey fell off a chair & her arms fell off, & then I tried to pick her up, I dropped her again & smashed her belly open & her legs just went flying.

Twonkey at the b.b.c tent.jpg
Mr Twonkey’s Blue Cadabra (2013)

The Mumble: & finally, what can Twonkey fans look forward to this year?

Mr Twonkey: Well, they can look forward to me trying, as ever, to top the last show. I think the way I’m doing it this time is to have, a sort of build with the tension towards the end. I always like the idea of a show which ends on a sinister note, where you’re left with a lot of questions about what you’ve just experienced, & I think that this show has definitely got that aspect to it. A lot of its about finding a good pace throughout the show, you need to feel like you’ve had your dinner, but also you don’t want people to get bored, so that means keeping it a little bit fizzy & whizzy throughout.

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