An Interview with the Dirty White Boys


Just exactly who are these Dirty White Boys, & why the hell are they so hilarious? The Mumble track’d them down for a wee blether…


Hello Jack, so where ya from and where ya at, geographically speaking?
Jack: I’m originally from the glorious north west, near Manchester; specifically the quaint little town of Rochdale, which you may recall from various unsettling news stories, but I currently live in that London. I’ve moved in with my comedy husband Chazz and we couldn’t be more like a long-time married couple – we sleep in different bedrooms and don’t talk to each other.

Hello Chazz, so when did you first realise you could make people laugh?
Chazz: Hello right back! I guess I don’t have the memory specifically, but I’ve been told on several occasions that during my Christening I farted very loudly during the quiet bit and giggled my arse off. Well, at least until they dunked me like an accused witch. Nice to know I had timing back then.

Which comedians inspire you, both old skool and on the scene today?
Chazz: Sketch has such an amazing legacy in the UK. What me and Jack do is inspired by the classic music hall (Morecambe & Wise) as much as it is by more contemporary groups (The League of Gentlemen). Also, 8 years ago I saw my favourite sketch show ever at the fringe (The Bunker by The Beta Males) and that’s definitely rubbed off on my writing style.

How did you get into stand up?
Jack: I started doing a bit of stand up whilst in the comfy supportive world of university and stopped dabbling once I left. Like many people who try being “actors” I found I had to make my own work if I wanted to perform on stage… hence sketch.

Upon which life-experiences do you draw your own comedy?
Jack: A lot of my comic ideas come from the absurdity I find in the most mundane of situations. A lot of our material is focused on either an ordinary person in a surreal scenario or a complete nutter in a perfectly relatable setting. It’s nice to be a bit bonkers without having to make a point about anything. I’m also a big fan of the darker side of jokes, creating characters on the very end of their tether is very amusing for me.

What is it about performing live you love the most?
Chazz: Instantaneous feedback and that sense of community; like you’re all sharing a secret. It’s a wonderful atmosphere and on the really good nights it’s practically electric. Can’t beat that feeling.

How did you meet Chazz?
Jack: I met Chazz in my first week at university, nearly nine whole years ago. We were auditioning for the same play and after just a few minutes of conversation I remember thinking “gosh, he’s a bit much, I hope we both don’t end up in this play together…” But we did. The rest is history.

How does living with Jack influence both your comedy & your delivery?
Chazz: Jack is beautiful grounding mechanism. Sometimes when I’m by myself it’s easy to focus on what I think the audience wants rather than what I find funny. After days of obsession with meta-narrative and theming, sometimes it’s good to have someone remind you a comedy show is supposed to have jokes. Plus, he’s the funniest bastard I’ve ever met.

What are the secrets to a good sketch?
Jack: A good sketch just needs a very strong conceit as it’s foundation or there’s not much point. We always build off a central concept and see how many different directions we can go with it; how many ideas we can pull from this one simple notion at the core of the sketch.

Where did the idea for Dirty White Boys originate?
Jack: Dirty White Boys was originally a double act comprising of Chazz and another funny friend of ours. They did some comedy gigs at uni, but when we were all thrust, most begrudgingly, into the real world, the band split. He (who cannot be named for legal reasons) went on to bigger and better things and Chazz suddenly needed a wing man for this gig he had preemptively booked the pair in for. And so, because I had nothing else going for me at the time and because everybody else refused to work with him, Chazz rang me up to fill in and I agreed. We wrote some skits, did them to a crowd of people, they laughed and our combined ego made us think we could be the new gods of sketch comedy. Look at us now.

You’re bringing MANNERS to this year’s Fringe. Can you tell us about it?
Chazz: MANNERS is our 3rd full hour, and (while it sounds presumptive and arrogant) we’re going back to basics. Non-stop sketch comedy for an hour. We exhaust one idea of comic potential and move onto the next one. No stone left unturned. And they’re really beautifully bizarre ideas this year. There’s definitely one sketch that makes a hard turn from music hall silliness into Mike Leigh film, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

You guys have been doing the Fringe in various guises for a decade now – what advice do you have for a performer arriving fresh faced for their first?
Jack: My advice? Pace yourself! It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t rush into watching too many shows as they won’t all be brilliant and you can lose a lot of money that way. But when in Scotland, drink and eat as the Scots do! You might live to regret it but you’ll have a blast doing it for a month.

Can you describe in a single sentence the experience of performing at the Fringe?
Chazz: Incredible highs tempered with a lot of berocca.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show to somebody in the street…
Chazz: If you want to laugh for an hour, this is the show for you. Non-stop, fast-paced, triple-distilled, hyphen-overusing silliness.


MANNERS

Just the Tonic @ The Caves

August 2-26 (22.10)

The Establishment

Heroes @ Dragonfly

Aug 4-28  (22.30)

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Laughs: four-stars   Material: five-stars   Delivery: five-stars

There is a charming wee room just off the Grassmarket, upstairs in the Dragonfly drinking establishment, from whose roof hangs what can only be described as a drunken chandelier. Beneath said object, all throughout August, comedy is being performed, & it is in this obscure corner of the Fringe that I have just witnessed one of the best shows I have seen this year. The Establishment are two grown men; two quintessentially cricket-loving, queen-worshipping Englishmen. Eccentric & boisterous & a little creepy at times, our two protagonists bounce & feed off each other like two Jack Russels in a park who’ve been stuck in the car after a very lllooooonnngggg drive. The best way to describe the well-oiled chit-chat of these guys is that somewhere in space, about 50 light years away, an alien civilisation is beginning to pick up the jingle-jangle cocktail of 1960s British TV & Radio – snatched snippets of conversation & phrases sent out from Auntie… this is what listening to The Establishment at work sounds like.

Their slot is perfect – 10.30PM – when we’re all on our second or third pint of the evening, helping us to rush along like that cart-wagon in the Temple of Doom, pell-melling the guys’ rickety rollercoaster ride through the British status quo. You have no choice either, for The Establishment wander about the audience at free will, getting everyone involved, but not in an annoying or invasive way, but in an its-absolutely-essential-to-the-show-that everyone-chillaxes-&-has-a-good-time kinda way. Ridiculous to the point of realistic, scripted to the point of spontaneity, there are some delightfully funny scenes which would even have her highness, the goddess Britannia, laughing so much she’d decide to have a tipple & end up at the end of the night stockingless & streaky-make-up’d, singing ‘roll out the barrel’ down Barking Road. The action is non-stop &, unlike many other comedy shows who cannot handle the full hour, these guys are equally as funny at any given moment. Top class & much deserving, ultimately one hopes, of a larger stage.
Reviewer : Damian Beeson Bullen
five-stars

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THE MUMBLE – The show is stuffed full of gags – how long has it taken to compile such a collection of material

THE ESTABLISHMENT – We’ve been working on this show for the last 7 months, a lot of the show we find in the moment with the audience so it can take a while to develop. We did runs at The Prague Fringe, Brighton Fringe and The London Clown Festival adding and subtracting gags along the way.

THE MUMBLE  –Where did you two meet, & was there immediate comedic chemistry

THE ESTABLISHMENT – We first met at a horrible open mike night in London, three men and a dog in the audience. We barely spoke that night but we went on to do a show together at the fringe in 2013 called ‘Pekka and Strangebones Comedy Showpiece’ and the year after ‘The Honky Bonk Comrades’. We’ve always had an easy connection on stage and we definitely share a similar taste in stupidity. We’re members of a comedy collective called ‘Honky Bonk Presents’ who make shows that are extremely ridiculous and silly, the kind of humour we enjoy.

THE MUMBLE – What does the future hold for the Establishment

THE ESTABLISHMENT – If we survive Edinburgh we plan to tour the show, maybe Australia

Njambi McGrath

Kasbah @ Espionage

August 9-27 (except Mon)

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Material :five-stars  Delivery : three-stars  Laughs : four-stars

The wee Kasbah room is tucked up inside a warren of rooms in the Espionage venue. A tiny arena befitting an intimate night out rather than the stage for an excellent comedian, it was fairly full of expectant punters. Of course with the front row was typically empty. They need not have been afraid to take their seats though, as Njambi had already told me she didn’t pick on audience members, as she wanted to keep them on her side. She introduced herself before she came on, which kickstarted the laughs, and she slipped onto stage with her elegant black dress and braids; fitting for the dry, sardonic sense of humour that she was about to unleash on us. As dry as the Sahara, if you’re going to use an African stereotype.  ‘I’ve come by plane, just so you know’, and so begun her quick, cheeky unravelling of all those well worn Western stereotypes of African people. The flyer promises the following: ‘Having survived a beating that nearly killed her, Njambi McGrath is forced to confront the perpetrator, her father, for answers when their paths unexpectedly cross again.’ Although the painful relationship with her violent father formed the backbone of the hour, most of the flesh was in the form of punchy, hard hitting jokes, cleverly entwined metaphors and dead-pan one liners on a variety of topical subjects.

Njambi didn’t delve into a linear account of the story of her father as you might expect from the flyer. It must be such a painful story to tell that it has to be shredded up and tossed in to the script in a piecemeal fashion, padded out with piles upon piles of sharp, edgy jokes. This particular audience were a little stiff and quiet, not seeming sure of what to make of her material; unsure if it was OK for them to laugh or not. It was almost as if she was too clever for her audience, or perhaps the jokes were so hard-hitting and so dryly delivered, and served up with just a hint of a sardonic smile that they were falling on deaf ears. Come on guys, her Kenyan accent isn’t THAT strong…She throws in some comments about her father early on, so you get an inkling of his character from the start.  Her needing to lie to him in order to avoid a severe punishment. “Who painted on the wall? Oh, Banksy did it!” or “Who threw those stones outside? Oh it was the Devil!”.

To be fair though, her delivery was so fast that you had to concentrate to keep up with the constant of barrage of jokes pelting out surreptiously into the audience’s minds. I was a little sleepy and slow after a late night out, and my brain was still slightly on slow-mo, but there was only just enough time for one joke to hit and sink it before three more hard-hitters followed. It would have been good for her to pause and watch the tough nuggets to get digested by the audience fully before moving on. Let us savour and enjoy her wicked jibes in their full, succulent glory. She threw in jokes thick and fast with clever metaphors that had some of us dullards struggling to keep up. By the time the significance of one joke had hit us hard she was off, running down the track with another.

We all enjoyed the jibes at internet attention seekers putting their heads in crocodile’s mouths and expecting to be spared. As she named it, ‘Teaching assholes a lesson’! She imagined Donald Trump and Sarah Palin being tortured with general knowledge questions that they can’t answer. ‘What is the capital of Togo?’. The fitting punishment for their ignorance being ‘hugged by Muslims with ticking clocks’! And laughs came at twisting our perspective to being the recipients of all those unwanted cuddly toys dumped abroad, those that resemble the wild animal you’ve just had to flee and being the children suspiciously ripping the heads of sinister looking white dolls. Watching cows’ shit was much more entertaining, she muses, as the Barbies we got don’t even have a vagina!

She talked quite a bit about her childhood growing up in Kenya, laughing at the trials of having a battery-operated TV set, which when it cut out, had imaginative aunties as back up to fill in the blanks in the story. She pauses as she imagines talking to her aunt with the wide eyes of a child, “Are you sure there was witchcraft in Dallas?”  She talked about being grounded in good African reality rather than the Disneyfication of our hopes and dreams; that marrying for love rather than obeying your family’s wishes is really not going to work out for you. I must find a copy of ‘Love Brewed in the African Pot’, just to give my own Disney inspired ideas of ‘Happily Ever After’ a reality check. As she said, Beauty and the Beast a few years down the line isn’t going to be all it was cracked up to be, with him old, grizzled and foul and demoralised Beauty going to look for sex with waiters on holiday!

I think it’s difficult when you want to discuss some serious matters as part of a comedy show, which all good comedians attempt, but your audience have no cultural or historical reference points to really understand the depth of what you’re trying to convey. The horrors of King Leopold of Belgium’s holocaust in the Congo, the Mau Mau rebellion and the concentration camps run by the British a handful of years after the Jewish Holocaust are not subjects the audience was familiar with. I’ve studied African history, been to Kenya and my son bears a Kikuyu name, so by accident I happen to know a little of the subject matter. But we should all know this stuff. The British education system deliberately steers us away from facing up to our own historical crimes, and this is why new voices on the comedy circuit are like a breath of fresh air into the hidden vaults of our own shameful past.

There were very poignant moments as she recalled the full horror of what her father did to her and how she faced it. It’s so fast you barely have time to imagine the scene, but fleeting images are probably enough. It’s an inspiring story of hope and compassion; digesting the pain of it with both compassion and humour. She lost the crowd a little towards the end, perhaps because she was worrying about their muted reaction. It was very mixed; the group in front absolutely loved it and found it fascinating. The group behind, from the Scottish countryside, were bewildered and confused, muttering that they ‘felt cheated’. Having just witnessed such a unique and well constructed show for free, I wondered what experience they had been expecting?

Reviewer: Lisa Williams

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Revan & Fennel : Fan Club

The Caves

Aug 4-28 (12:05)

PWYL

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Material :four-stars Delivery :four-stars  Laughs : four-stars

Rosie Revan and Alice Fennell are a couple of talented, beer-swilling laddettes from East Landan mayt, whom after meeting on a production of a Jacobean classic, found themselves five years later sat in the Ye Olde Rose and Crown in Walthamstow. On this occasion, Alice made the potentially planet-saving decision to beg Rosie to accept her proposition of becoming a comedy duo. At first Rosie said no. Then she said yes. Now they’re up here.

The ladies share a lovely patter bouyed up by some intelligently-laced voice-overs – its a great watch this. There’s also somethong quite entertaining about seeing them come out for each sketch with a beer or wine glass in hand. One assumes there was a lot of alcohol consumed during the creation of their sketches. Of these, a laughter-studded highlight was the Maid of Honour Speech made at her pal’s wedding by Rosie – proper class!

I used to live near Walthamstow, in Leytonstone actually, so I’m familiar with the breeding beds of their comedy muse. Both the multi-fissured fusions of modernity & the hustle-bustle-rustle of those parts of Landan Tahn are ever-presents in their work, which is all threaded together by the girls through their remarkable faculty for making people laugh. This is sketch comedy at its most prolific best, when the scenes change seamlessly & the laughs keep on coming. A real treat.

Reviewer : Damian Beeson Bullen

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Zoe Lyons : Little Misfit

Gilded Balloon Teviot

Aug 3-28 : (19.00)

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Material : three-stars Delivery : four-stars  Laughs : four-stars

I love Teviot house as a venue its definitely one of Edinburgh’s top fringe locations.A stunning, gothic building with 5 levels, dining room, bars, turrets, stunning  woodwork throughout… and lots of rooms & stairs! So, when I got the chance to go and see Zoe Lyons there in the Dining Room, I was expecting a real ‘feast’ of comedy. Zoe comes with an excellent CV &  I was really looking forward to seeing her in person.  The show itself was pretty busy, and there was a decent atmosphere building up. After taking to the stage like a ninja on heat, Zoe established a wicked wee rapport with her audience as she recalled parts of her life’s twisting tale,  and the pursuit of that we are all looking for; belonging. Her medium, though, was classic comic banter; fast and funny with lots of genius built in. Her animal impressions are classic! I wish I had got a picture of the dog! Her Lizard was scary!

Zoe was pretty engaging with the audience throughout, and portrayed her story  honestly & professionally. There is no doubt she is a talented comedian with tons of great material but I tended to think this year’s effort was scattered pieces pulled together rather than one complete original show. There were a few times I was struggling to relate her patter to her theme, but to be honest I don’t think I really cared – there where quite a few moments during the show when I was killing myself with laughter. Overall I had a great night and she is well worth a visit!

Reviewer : Mark Parker

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Siân and Zoë’s Luxury Cruise Through the Horrifying Vacuum of Space

Just the Tonic at The Community Project

Aug 4-28 : (16.15)

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Material :four-stars Delivery : four-stars  Laughs : three-stars

If one would like to imagine what Dawn & French were like in their earliest incarnations, then a trip to see Siân and Zoë in action would come pretty close. They have a theme, & that is an adventure through space to search for the answer to mindfulness &  a better quality of life. They have props, & they use them with a cheeky indifference to whether they are actually any good. They have a custard-yellow bee-like uniform which in some scientific way focuses attention on their every movement. They have youth, they have pezzazz, & most of all they have comedy – oodles of the stuff!

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Their act is silly & suave, & at times completely bonkers.”Hey do you want a coffee” – “I’ve cut off both your legs!” “I’m levitating!” was one wee snippet of a dialogue I managed to record in all the mesmerizing mayhem, which whipped us through a world of banana infections & funny faces…  somewhere in space. These girls have talent, & a sketch show with a difference. It seems the only place suitable for their far-reaching imaginations is the further reaches of the cosmos, & joining them on such a journey is a true counterfoil to those wishing to escape the terra-bound termite nest that is the Edinburgh Fringe.

Reviewer : Damian Beeson Bullen

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Luke Graves : Living Luke

Sweet Grassmarket

Aug 4-28 (18:35)

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Material :three-stars Delivery :four-stars  Laughs : three-stars

Watching Luke Graves at work is rather akin to listening to one of the Icelandic Sagas of old, Egil’s Saga perhaps, when the life-long adventures of an epic hero are recited in a cheiftain’s hall. On this occasion we found ourselves instead in a modern-day luxurious hotel, & of course our bard has a microphone in hand as he delves into his own life to give us Luke’s annual account of his adventures. In 2016 we are witness to his recent engagement to Lauren – next year, he tells us, will be the wedding chapter of his saga, followed by the baby year & in 2019 his dressing up as Superman for parental rights.

Luke oozes a peace-cruising demeanour as he delivers his material in a cute & poignant manner. His audience is very much with him, an intimate connection that finds many comedians’ egos difficult to circumvent. But the cheeky chappie in Luke is only a witty aside away as he thinks on his feet throughout his laid-back, friendly show. Perhaps Luke is a little too laid-back at times, but I guess he’s just a nice fella & that’s his way. He’s a bit like a wolf-pup – adorable with the occasional risque snarl. Indeed, just as one stares inanely at a lovely puppy, so I found myself at times simply gazing at Luke as he sported through his perfectly formed set.

So… I guess its a matter of how does one like one’s comedy. ‘I’m really cool with any of this,’ said one of the audience tonight, & I have to agree. Its good to see a comedian with a genuine smile & if its at a nice, steady pace when you feel fluffy & ready for humour, then Luke is definitely your guy.

Reviewer : Damian Beeson Bullen

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