Brickhead: Yeah Yeah, Yeah? at the Blue Man

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It was a good festival for us for free comedy. And this was no exception. Lecoq/Gaulier-trained clown Brickhead gave us a show of pure madness that left us quoting him for the rest of the night. Entering the space holding up a railed curtain, his entrance was a swarm of ticks, twitches and awkwardness as everything feel apart around him as he tried to set up for his opening. Naturally the whole audience found this hysterical putting us in the perfect mood for his show.

He started with predominately physical comedy and was comfortable getting the audience involved, to the point of leading off and leaving one patron in the bathroom. It seemed odd to us when he then went into a more vocalised form of comedy that ended with the phrase “down the hallway.” However the randomness of this phrase was made even more funny when it was then taken back into his physical comedy.

This was a completely random and brilliant show! Brickhead will dust your house and have you laughing for hours.

Highlight of the piece – the never ending telephone call – Kate is clearly the most annoying person in the entire world…

WIGS 4/5

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Interview with Zach and Viggo

Another Gaulier trained clown act ‘Zach and Viggo: Thunderflop’ spent some time with the Ginger Wig this week. Here is our interview with Zach and Viggo and their responses to our questions.

GW: Hi Zach and Viggo. Nice to have you speaking to the Ginger Wig.

Zach: Thank you ‘The Ginger Wig’ for speaking with Zach and Viggo.

GW: That’s alright. How has your show been going?

Zach: It’s been going pretty good lately.

Viggo: Ye the last days have been good. The start though was a disaster.

Zach: The first week was a real battle getting people in, but then we started doing these cabarets and it went from fivish people a show to now like 15/20 people.

Viggo: Today we had 30!

GW: Great. Right now, first big question of the night, the biggest. Why do you two make comedy?

Zach: Oh man!

Viggo chortles deeply.

Zach: My heart just dropped.

Viggo: Wow. Why do we make comedy? I think because it’s fun.

Zach: Ye. I think it makes everything that is already so serious, much less serious.

Viggo: So if I give a serious answer here its pretty boring. I think it’s because there is so much wanky stuff in the world, we just wanted to do some non-wanky stuff. But just saying that is quite wanky. (He laughs)

Zach: I think we’re dipping into wank mode right now.

Viggo: My parents?

Zach: Ye (laughs.) People often say comedy comes from pain, but for me it’s just fun to do, it’s a break from everything else.

Viggo: I’m a happy person.

Zach: We’re happy we promise, we’re not crying right now.

GW: How does it feel performing at the Edinburgh Fringe?

Zach: It’s surreal.

Viggo: (Laughs) It’s cool!

Zach: It’s the best. It feel’s like we actually have a real job. Like our real job is to be comedians but instead is like oh ye we’re doing a free show. Barely staying alive.

Viggo: Last night I slept three hours. I woke up and a theatre director from Norway was there (in the show) and I just felt so good, adrenaline was just pumping out of my ears. It’s like a dream.

Zach: It’s crazy. When you have somebody there who suprises you it gives you that extra WOOOHOOO and wakes us up from death.

Viggo: We have to tell you about this guy who came to our show. Four days ago. This guy was just sitting in the back. We didn’t see who it was.

Zach: He was hiding in the back the whole show, taking pictures. We couldn’t really see because the lights are so bright and you can’t see that far.

Viggo: At the end of the show, while the show was still going on, he just walks on stage.

Their excitement is building.

Zach: We do this bit where I marry Viggo to somebody in the audience, and in the scene Viggo just says “father, father” and this guy from the back just starts shouting. We couldn’t really hear what he was saying. My first thought was, ah man, its 1:15 in the afternoon, there’s no way there is a drunken heckler here right now.

Viggo: Then he just walks on stage and says “No I am the father!”

Their excitement has continued to grow.

VIggo: And…

Zach: And its…

Viggo: It was my dad!

Zach: It was Viggo’s dad! He flew in from Oslo and suprised us.

Viggo: I didn’t know he was coming he just showed up in the show.

Zach: Then walked Viggo down the aisle to his own fake wedding.

GW: Awesome. Ok well considering we are on the topic of your show, how would you sum up ‘Zach and Viggo: Thunderflop’?

Viggo: It’s a silly and beautiful comedy done by two stupid guys.

Zach: Ye just two stupid people showing everyone: “Hey this is my fantasy of what I find funny”. We like to play, we play fun games with the audience. Its a healthy mixture of playing with them. But also us perfoming and not letting it get out of control, but its a two-way street, its not just “Look at us, we’re so amazing!” We all play together and make something really cool.

Viggo: My dad liked it.

Zach: His dad actually liked it. His dad saw our preview in Oslo and hated it and then came to this one and loved it..

Viggo: We changed a lot from Oslo

Zach: (Laughing) Ye.

GW: Who are your comedy heroes?

Zach: Dr. Brown. He’s taught both of us and he went to our school – L’ecole Philippe Gaulier.

Viggo: Also, Philippe Gaulier, becuase he is like the funniest man ever.

Zach: He is the funniest man in the history of the world.

Viggo: He is an evil wizard.

Zach: He is an evil evil man, but the most loving evil man that ever eviled. Trygve Wakenshaw he’s another lovely good one. Johnny Wooly.

Viggo: He’s our director.

Zach: He’s also actually sitting behind us right now.

They both laugh.

GW: Whats your favourite thing about being at the Fringe?

Viggo: I have been here three years, just watching stuff, I just love being part of it and the atmosphere. There are so many cool artists that you can hang with.

Zach: I think this is the Mecca of the weirdest, coolest, most beautiful people and they all come here to do their thing for three weeks. Everywhere you look, you see someone and you’re like, ye, “I don’t know you but I feel like I get you.” We are all here for the same reason.

Viggo: Today I cried. I saw Chinese dance, and I got to hang out with Zach, who I think is the funniest guy in the world (He laughs) I was really happy!

Zach: The best thing going off what he was saying is, Viggo makes me laugh super duper hard all the time.

Viggo: Ahhh.

Zach: And so just backstage knowing that, ye, that guy is the guy I get to make a show with, it never gets stale, its always different.

Viggo: I actually cried today. ‘Every Brilliant Thing’ It’s a very good show.

GW: What are your personal picks from the Fringe?

Viggo: I want to say ‘Every Brilliant Thing’ that I saw today, beautiful.

Zach: I saw a show yesterday, a beautiful clown show by this guy called Spencer Jones called ‘The Herbert in Proper Job’. Beautiful, beautiful show.

Viggo: I liked ‘Plague of Idiots”. They are so stupid and so funny.

Zach: They are so good. They are Gaulier people.

Viggo: They are just so stupid. I love it.

Zach: One of our friends Georgia directed for them over the summer and I guess some people were saying “Oh this is just another one of those clown shows, whatever” and then they saw them and saw how stupid they were and someone turned to her and was like “Do they have an education? Are they genuinely this stupid?”

Viggo chortles.

Zach: But that is the best compliment you could ever get. Trygve Wakenshow – Kraken and Nautilus are obviously huge inspirational and fun shows for us . ‘Sam Simmons: Spaghetti for Breakfast’.

Viggo: That was cool.

Zach: That was really cool.

GW: Ok nice. Right, final question. Can you pitch me a brand new Fringe show?

Viggo: Ah, OK. So imagine you’re in a little car…

Zach: And you’re driving this car down the road. You don’t know where you’re going. You got the music on, you’re feeling good.

Viggo: Obviously this car is onstage. Literally there is a car on stage. The show is inside the car so you have to roll down the window and do the whole show from the car.

Zach: So the audience are the drive through people, you can be paying the toll or having a chat with the toll man. You could be getting arrested by somebody.

Viggo: And all the music comes from inside the car. And we have to start packing the show down 30 minutes in because the car is so heavy.

Zach: But that’s also part of the show. So at the end you’re packing everything up and it’s like you’re going on a road trip. Or you’re going off to college. Who knows where you’re going.

Viggo: And you end the show by saying in Norwegian “Turen er målet” which in English is – the trip is the goal itself.

Zach: The trip is the goal itself! And then we hand out bumper stickers and then I think we’re done.

They both laugh.

Viggo: And we can have traffic lights at the entrance.

Zach: Oh ye, so you can stop people from coming in. Then if its yellow they don’t know if they can come in or not.

Viggo: Yes!

They both laugh.

GW: (Laughing) Cool very nice guys.Well thank you very much for your time.

Zach: Thank you. This feels so fun.

GW: Thank you very much Zach and Viggo!

If you want to see Zach and Viggo: Thunderflop! They are on at CC Blooms until Sunday at 12:30

Paris Communal Shower at Yurt Locker @ Free Sister

There really is no show quite like this one at Edinburgh. Absurd clown tomfoolery is presented by four students from Philippe Gaulier’s renowned clown school. Under the command of their scout master, three young scouts learn to tie ropes, go to the bathroom in the forest and develop their interrogation techniques. And did we mention? It’s completely FREE!

Standard scout practices were subverted by these wild clowns, skewed out of all recognition into some off-the-wall crazy comedy, that left the crowd roaring with laughter. This reporter did not stop laughing throughout, a testament to their comedy. This was unique, original and different from anything else we had seen at the Fringe.

The only downside was the venue in question. Squeezed into a yurt is no problem at all, and could definitely add to the mood and intimacy of the piece. However, when you have a whole bar being served food and drinks outside, playing music and showing sports games on giant screens, it could make it hard for some to fully enter the world of the piece inside the yurt. At the end of the day though, all this shows, is that this group deserved a bigger and better stage!

Not a problem anyway though, for those of you who truly care about great comedy. You will find youself transfixed by the madness presented by the four scouts; Neil, Sami, Maddy and James. Each one of them brings something distinct to this troupe as they presented their series of sketches individually, in pairs, or as a whole group, clothed or unclothed…

Hilarious and unconventional comedy from this brand new comedy group. Squeeze yourself into the yurt locker and let the clowns do the rest.

Highlight of the show – Waiter service to the song, The girl from Ipanema…

Want to see it? – Yurt Locker @ Free Sister – 21:30 until the end of the fringe excluding Tuesdays.

5/5 WIGS

Interview with Paris Communal Shower

On Thursday, we caught up with three quarters of Paris Communal Shower, a group of current and former students from Philippe Gaulier’s renowned clown school in France. We posed several questions to Maddy, Sami and Neil outside the Gilded Ballon, to find out more about them and there off-the-wall free show-in-a-yurt at the Free Sisters. Here are their answers.

Ginger Wig: Thank you very much for joining us here.

PCS: Thank you Ginger Wig.

GW: Ok first question. Where did your name come from?

Maddy: Oh! (laughs) First question…

Neil: Oh, its how we all met. We all met, in a communal shower. In Paris.

GW: You met in a communal shower in paris?!

Neil: No, I’m joking.

Maddy: We basically came up with our name before we had come up with our show. Our whole entire show was never scripted, it was invented through playing games.

Neil: We have a whatsapp conversation with about 50 or 60 alternative names or more…

Sami: Every single one was shot down by someone…

Maddy: But you just kept putting colours. We had, ‘Fried Chips’, ‘Sniff and Scratch’ and then suddenly Sami would come in with, “Guys – Purple”.

Neil: Ye ye.

Maddy: ‘Grey’? ‘Red’? ‘Green’ perhaps?

Sami: That was arduous finding a name actually.

Maddy: And then we realised we all lived in Paris. Where communal shower came from is beyond me. Our show has nothing to do with paris, or communal showers, but it’s still good (laughs).

GW: Can you explain to us a bit about your creative process?

Neil: Firstly we got two directors. One would direct the first bit and then the other would direct the second bit, but they’ve got two very different ways of working.

GW: Does that not make things tricky?

Sami: No it was fine actually in the end, because it was a nice mixture of the two. We had a basic structure, basic theme down, suggested by a friend actually and then once we decided to do that, one director Sean, he likes the physical stuff, so he made us do physical things to try and devise things and then Sam, he does more game based things, so he’ll say “play a game, do this” again that was physical too, but more in a game way.

Maddy: Sam makes you find an image through an improvisation game, like swinging your ponytail round in a circle “What are you? – I’m a helicopter!” So he turns an image into a scene. Our show is very image based, so it looks nice. There’s a lot of nice things to look at.

Niel: Sean is a director that likes to take things far to far…

Sami: I’ve been naked running against James (the fourth member of PCS) on the floor, he made me sing out of my naked bottom, some opera! He made me do a lot of things, none of its in the show, it was all for his own pleasure.

Niel: (Laughing) It was all for his own pleasure. But we got some things that you would never really think of, because it would be too extreme, some of which we managed to actually keep in the show.

Maddy: I think the funniest part of that asshole singing, was that Sean tried to cover up the fact that it was an asshole, by saying “Look its fine, if we just hold up two coconuts next to Sami no one will know which one it is.

Sami: Basically we started out with something that was fun and then worked backwards into making sense out of it, rather than sitting down and having ideas. I think you can really kill things quite quickly if you try and have interesting ideas. You need to have fun first.

Maddy: We learnt that at school, never have an idea. Just go! Go! Go! Go!

GW: That leads us on nicely to my next question. What has going to clown school taught you?

Neil: That I’m worthless. That’s what it taught everyone. That you’re not funny, you’re not a good actor.

Maddy: It’s genius. For me, its really listening to the audience. If the sketch isn’t particularly funny, its not the audiences fault, YOU have to change. Find something to get out of the flop.

Neil: Save the flop!

Sami: He’s very brutal (Gaulier) He tells you what you are. You find out what you are. Whether you can change it or not…? Often you cant. You are what you are – which is liberating in a way because it gives you a direction. This is what I am, this is what I have to work with.

Maddy: It gives you a certain amount of freedom when you are on stage.

Neil: Also he stops you from acting. He stops you from being ‘the actor studio of his balls’ as he says. Stop acting! That is very liberating on stage not having to act.

GW: What’s your favourite thing about being at the Fringe?

Sami: I can eat quite cheaply here, which is good. I’ve been buying organic eggs, so I’ve been eating really good eggs. I have been eating well for a reasonable price.

Neil: There is a really good fruit a veg shop across the street from us. Its run by volunteers and its all local produce, so ye, I love that.

Sami: The shows and everything are good as well.

They all laugh.

Maddy: Just the eggs! Edinburgh just makes me happy, there’s so much going on, there’s performers everywhere and its a time for people to just come and try stuff out and just give it a go. Even first time performers can just get on stage and say “Here I am!”. Its the perfect place to do that becuase everyone is really accepting.

GW: Does stand up comedy make you happy as well?

Maddy: Not particularly since being at clown school, my mind has changed a bit about stand up. Neil was actually a really famous stand up comic (through her laughter).

Neil: Well, er, (shyly) I was in Australia and I won a couple of competitions. Stand up comedy is still great when it’s done well, but you get to realise, how few people do it well, how boring and self-obsessed it can be.

Maddy: Me, me, me, here I am! I think the reason I don’t like stand up comedy anymore is because of clown school and Philippe and what he teaches us. The best way to describe this is with an example. We saw this stand up night in Paris and the MC of the night told some really, really, really bad jokes. Like REALLY bad jokes. But there was one moment when he told a joke, that he thought was literally the greatest thing he’d ever come up with, and it flopped. Nobody laughed because nobody even knew it was the end of the joke. It was that bad. But there was a moment straight after this when his face went from so proud of what he’d done into total human vulnerability. It just dropped. It was so natural. “I’m acting” just went. And the room erupted with laughter. He was really unsure why, but we could see it was because it was him being himself and reacting in a really funny way to how badly he had just flopped. But the reason it then annoyed me was because he should have kept going, living in the flop, swimming around in it. Instead, he threw it away – “And now on to my next joke la la la” – and went straight back to stand up comedy – here’s a joke, here’s a laugh, here’s a joke, here’s a laugh. It was so interesting for that split second. It was so funny. Thats why I believe in listening to the audience more.

Neil: Stay in your failure for longer, thats where people laugh, that’s where you are vulnerable

GW: Who would be in your dream comedy group?

PCS: Thats a good question…

Neil: Tony Hancock would be in there. I like Tony Hancock. He’s a 60′s comedian – “Hancock’s Half Hour” – brilliant! Birth of the sit-com really.

Sami: I’d put Nosferatu in. I think he has very good stage presence and he’s very funny. He doesn’t have to do much, he just needs to look confused… as he does.

Maddy: If I could be in comedy-sketch group with Rik Mayall I’d probably be the happiest person alive. He had something, f***ing good. Sorry for swearing.

GW: No problem. Now have you got any personal picks from the fringe?

Sami: I’ve seen Sam Simmons, which was excellent. I haven’t seen this, but I think I’m really going to enjoy ‘Calypso Nights: Juan, 2?’. I really really want to see that. I think he may be my favourite at the fringe once I see him.

Neil: Nautilus!

Maddy: Nautilus!

Neil: Oh my God – just an hour and a half of effortlessly hilarious mime.

Maddy: Best thing I’ve seen so far.

Neil: The drumming show…

Maddy: ‘Fills Monkeys: Incredible Drum Show’, its just these two guys on drums and they’re pretty funny, they’re from France. It was a pretty epic hour of just amazing synchronised drumming.

Neil: Just funny drumming.

Sami: Very difficult to explain.

Maddy: We have some friends from our school performing in the Underbelly “Plague of Idiots”. Their show has been going amazingly, I haven’t seen it yet, but they have been getting some incredible feedback, selling out left right and centre, and they’re just four clowns from our school. Who else do we love? We love everyone! ‘John-Luke Roberts: Stdad-Up’, seen it in the vaults but haven’t seen it here yet, again amazing feedback. My dad went! Thats a big deal.

They all laugh.

Maddy: Zack and Viggo!

Neil: That’s a beautiful little show. First timers, midday, just in a bar underground, just out of town, its crazy but its nice, really good show.

Maddy: Its called ‘Thunderflop’. Spencer Jones is apparently incredible as well. ‘Rhinoceros’ by Harry Carr. It’s very fun, It’s basically a game show on saving Rhinos! And its very playful and very silly. Thats quite a lot, we could go on…

GW: Final question, although its not a question at all. Pitch me a new fringe show!

Neil: AHH…

Maddy: WE CAME UP WITH ONE LAST NIGHT!

Niel: “Awkward Sex Stories from Behind a Fern” – where members of the audience come out and go hide behind a fern with a microphone and tell their awkward sex stories.

Maddy: We did it last night in our cabaret and it went so well. It lightened the mood a lot. But I think to make it a show we would need half comedians and half audience members…

Neil: We need to develop it a bit… Also, “The One Man Tattoo”! I just want to do the Tattoo as a one man show, I think that would be quite funny.

GW: Sami pitch me a show!

Sami: Um, er, pitch you a show, er, the… a show where I have to think on my feet… and its generally made up of silence, um, and maybe theres a microphone involved maybe recording it, um, and then somebody writes it down and puts it on the internet. (He laughs)

Maddy: Can we absolutely add in a mention that we forgot. Our fourth cast member is in another show called “The Dream Sequentialists” we have to put that in, otherwise HE’LL KILL US! And he won’t be in our show anymore! And Paris Communal Shower! (laughs)

GW: Cool. Thank you all very much for your time. Good luck with the rest of your fringe

PCS: Awesome. Thank you Ginger WIG!

If you want to catch Paris Communal Shower they are on at the Yurt Locker at the Free Sisters, every night except tuesday at 9:30pm !