Hello Laughing Stock, so where are ya all from & where ya’ll at, geographically speaking?
LAUGHING STOCK : Lewis is from Nottingham, Bella is from Oxford, Phoebe is from Somerset and Rhys is an army child so he’s from nowhere. Currently, we all live in London.
So where did the idea for Laughing Stock originate?
RHYS : The sketch show was really a reaction against leaving drama school and having lots to say and nowhere to say it anymore. I grew up watching sketch comedy, and I’d done it at University, so I knew that was something that I wanted to do. So did Phoebe. So we met up a few times, roped in a few mates to workshop some stuff and lo, a strange foursome was born.
This is not Laughing Stock’s first time at the Fringe, what have you learnt in the interim about your set?
ARABELLA : A big thing we’ve learnt is not to be afraid of showing off. If you think you can pay an instrument, or sing, or dance, or move then whack it in a sketch. There’s nothing more satisfying than watching something that is both very funny, and kind of impressive. There’s something selfless about really committing, and the audiences really take to it. So I, in particular, like to get as much live music in the show as possible.
What is the creative process behind writing Laughing Stock’s sketches?
PHOEBE : I write it all. Joke. We all bring as much material to meetings as we are able. We present that stuff, decide what we all like, then we trial it in front of (usually non-fee-paying) audiences and see what they like. It’s really important to create stuff in conversation with an audience. They are your guide. And then only the best stuff makes it into the show. So it can be a gruelling process. And you only see the tip of the iceberg.
What are the ingredients to a good sketch?
LEWIS : There has to be a game, some jeopardy between the characters that makes the scene interesting and alive. The ‘story’ of the sketch. But that can be absolutely anything. And is always subservient to the funnies. E.g. if there’s just a really funny noise you can make in the middle of this really tense scene, do it – and get offstage. Oh and, of course, my personal favourite, WACKY CHARACTERS!! (That may or may not be a joke from the show).
What kind of audience response does Laughing Stock convoke – both during & after the show?
PHOEBE : Last year was brilliant. We sold so well, even better than we’d anticipated. And we had a very lively, upbeat show with a bit of pathos at the end. People generally came out beaming and full of emotion. We try to make the audience comfortable from the start too, so if we do get them involved (which is often) then they feel safe and ready to play.
What are the inspirations behind your own comedic input into Laughing Stock?
RHYS : On a day to day basis, it could be anything. A person I’ve met, a situation I’ve found myself in, or just a turn of phrase. More generally I think we all derive our inspiration from the sketch comedy we grew up with – our style tends to fall somewhere between Smack the Pony and The League of Gentlemen.
Why comedy, what is it about being funny in front of other people that makes you tick?
ARABELLA : I think it makes everyone tick. Which can be dangerous, you don’t want to depend on it. But I’ve always written funny songs to go in amongst the more serious ones I write. When you have lured people in with comedy, something that binds the people in the room, then they are more present for the more serious stuff.
How much time do you guys spend together outside Laughing Stock?
LEWIS: Sadly, that time has got less. I’m a massive advocate for pints and pub trips, because in those conversations when you’re not worried about all the admin stuff and boring things that come with performing, that’s when the best ideas come. But you get older, and you become busier, and we tend to be quite tight for time now when it comes to our shows. But we’ll continue to make time for those trips. Who knows, maybe this year we’ll have the show in the bag by July…
Can you describe in one sentence the experience of performing at the Fringe?
LAUGHING STOCK : It’s like selling rice at the world’s largest rice market, in China – and it’s awesome.
Laughing Stock will be performing at the Edinburgh Fringe this August
@ The Underbelly