Best pals Rachel Wheeley & Nicola Houghton are up from Tooting with some proper funny stuff, but they’re only here ’til Sunday…
Hello Nicola, so where are you both from and where ya at, geographically speaking?
Nicola: Nicola grew up in Radcliffe near Manchester, and Rachel at Eton College, the poshest school in the world. However since then we have both moved to sunny Tooting in South West London
When did you first realise you could make people laugh?
Nicola: I remember the defining moment, aged 16 in a GCSE drama class, where we were to improvise a play about the plague village in the 1600s. I remember thinking it was a bit dry and coming up with a comic character that was a mother of one of the villagers. I remember making the room laugh and thinking it was the best feeling in the world, and that I wanted to do more.
How did you get into comedy?
Nicola: A mere 20 years after that event, I finally got on stage to do my first gig. I had grown up surrounded by comedy in that there was a lot of story tellers in my family, coupled with northern humour. Plus I grew up in Manchester where it rains a lot. We spent our summer holidays watching films by Norman Wisdom, George Formby, Laurel and Hardy and Will Hay. We had our family holiday in Scarborough a few years on the run and ended up seeing the Chuckle Brothers at the Corner Cafe there. I was thinking of those days this week with the passing of Barry Chuckle.
How did you meet Rachel?
Nicola: We met at a mother and baby group in Tooting. Not a place many comics will have bumped into each other! Neither of us were comedians then, that came later when we needed a plan to get out of bedtime.
Hi Rachel so do you guys socialise much as families?
Rachel: We haven’t yet but Nicola and I like to hang out and write together and of course we run the Tooting comedy club so we hang out a lot for that, talking about acts we love. I think we will hang out more after the Fringe, we’ve got to know each other so well up here!
You’ve got three famous figures from history coming round for dinner. Who would they be & what would you cook; starter, mains & dessert?
Nicola: Margaret Rutherford, John Wesley & Jesus. Hmm, bit of an odd mix – might be best if they came on different days. Prawn cocktail with bread and butter followed by Steak pudding and chips with bread and butter, followed by apple crumble and custard.
The kids are out with their dad at the movies, you’ve got the house to yourself for three, maybe three & a half hours, what do you do?
Rachel: Without a shadow of a doubt I’d spend the first couple of hours getting on with a bunch of cleaning and washing, of which there is always a mountain (I have three kids) and then I would treat myself to a nap. I wish I had a more interesting answer 🙂
Where & when did the idea for Meet in the Middle originate?
Nicola: Rach and I run a comedy club in Tooting, Comedy at the Wheatsheaf. We’d decided to take something up to Edinburgh together, so we met for a coffee to come up with an idea for the show. I had sugar in mine, Rach didn’t and it grew from there.
You were shortlisted for the BBC New Comedy Award in 2018, how did that feel?
Rachel: Exciting. I sent a recording of a performance at Comedy at the Wheatsheaf, the night Nicola and I run in Tooting and was lucky enough to be invited to regional heats. It was fun to tell everyone to listen on the radio. My Mum has listened a few times on iplayer and keeps sending me laughing emojis.
You’re bringing a show to this year’s Fringe – can you tell us about it?
Rachel: Nicola Houghton & Rachel Wheeley: Meet in the Middle – Nicola and I are neighbours in Tooting, but we’re from very different backgrounds. Nicola grew up in Radcliffe near Manchester in the North of England, Rach at Eton College, the poshest school in the world. We both find middle class London bizarre, for different reasons!
Would the show appeal to non-Brits at the Fringe & why?
Rachel: Yes! We’re covering two very different parts of Britain in the show. Non-Brits can find out all about where Prince William went to school, and what it’s like growing up in the North of England – they may be inspired to visit Manchester!
You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show to somebody in the street…
Rachel: Eton College meets fish and chips – come and see us, it’s funny, and free!