Late Night Gimp Fight are a comedy troupe steadily gaining themselves a reputation as the UK’s foremost sketch group. By turns dark, offensive, silly and very very funny, they have been together touring for four years; in that time winning the award for Best Sketch Act at the Chortle awards last year, and being nominated for Best Newcomer at Edinburgh in 2010.
With the most obvious comparisons being to League of Gentlemen and Big Train, theirs is a brand of skewwhiff humour that has been off the radar post-Gervais, but the time is ripe for a comeback. They are just about to embark on a 16 night run at the Soho Theatre; their first stint there last Summer saw them receving rave reviews across the press and shuffled very much into the positon of Hot Young Things. I caught up with them just before they were about to go onstage for a gig at the Pipeline and they vented forth on touring, future plans and, which of them always insists on being the naked one on stage.
You are just about to start a run at the Soho Theatre. Can you tell us about the show?
D- It’s a reworked version of the show we did in Edinburgh last year, with a few new sketches from 2012. It’s the first time we’ve done the full show in London.
R- It’s actually really good for us to come back and look at the show again with fresh eyes, after 6 months away from it. When you do something at Edinburgh it’s so intense you don’t really get time to get perspective on the shows highs and lows.
Have you been touring much over the past year?
P- We’ve been all over the place. We’ve been over to Galway, and got back from Glasgow last weekend. We’re also booked in for a mini-tour of Ireland so we’re really pleased with how things are going.
You’ve been together a while now, where is the worst place you’ve toured?
D- [Without thinking] Hull
R- That was really fast.
Where in Hull?
D- I’m not sure I’m going to tell you that.
P- Harrogate was pretty bad. For some reason our agent booked us a Friday night in Brighton, a Saturday night in Harrogate, then a Sunday back in Brighton. So the three of us set off just after work at 5, get there about 10 with literally 15 minutes before we had to go on to play to about 20 bemused comedy-goers.
D- We lost a lot of fans that weekend, and money.
Your shows can be quite full-on, both in terms of language, jokes that are a bit close to the bone and occasional gratuitous nudity. How do you find people react to your shows, if they aren’t already aware of what they are like?
R- With a name like Late Night Gimp Fight we generally buy ourselves a bit of grace. People tend to know roughly what they are getting, but I also think that often they are pleasantly surprised. It’s a real mixed bag you know; some of it’s dark, some of it’s musical, some of it’s very physical.
P- I think one the favourite reactions we ever had was when Matthew Crosby (of pretty legendary sketch group Pappy’s) came to our Edinburgh show. In front of him was this 50 year old Scottish woman; at the end she turned round to him and went: “There’s just so much jizz.”
Weren’t you described by Chortle (the major UK comedy guide and website) as a “gloriously funny spunkstorm of bad taste?”
P- Who actually says spunk anymore?
D-If you put that quote on your website and people come and are still offended, there’s no excuses really.
R-And, you know, it’s something your mum can tell her friends when they ask what the show is like: “Well, actually, it’s, ah, well it's a spunkstorm of bad taste.”
The show I saw before in June, Lee(the long haired one who isn’t actually present at the interview)got naked onstage. How do you choose who gets to be the naked one? Do you compete for it, or is it a case of eeny-meeny-miney-mo?
R-We wish we could compete for it.
D- The main challenge is to do a show where Lee doesn’t get naked. When we first started our monthly shows, every single one he’d be naked in one form of other. For a man with an unremarkable body he’s got a remarkable level of self-confidence.”
R-He’ll moan about it, like; “come on guys. I really don’t want to, please don’t make me.” Then you turn around, he’s dropped his pants and you’re in a full dress rehearsal.
P-We set up an intervention after 1 show where after 90 seconds he was naked other than an empty packet of Cup-A-Soup over his manhood.
R-We realised then that you can get naked too early, and that the key to comedy really is in the timing.
Obviously there is 5 of you in the group, how do you go through the writing process?
P-We all like to write stuff, but Lee will comes along with a sketch and it’s normally 50% done.
D- Or Lee and Paul will write a sketch and it’ll be fairly there in terms of the dialogue or idea, and will just need a decision made about a certain character. Or Matt will present an idea and we’ll work on it together. And sometimes we’ll just have an idea by dicking about.
P-We’ve been working together for 4 years now and we know each other well enough to say this or that doesn’t work. We can pretty much write for each other.
It must take up a lot of your time: Do you still have jobs?
What sort of schedule do you have then? How do you fit it into your ‘norma’l life?
P-We just make time. At least 3 times a week we’ll meet after work, about 7 until 10. And we normally chuck in a couple of shows a week,
D-Luckily we have flexible jobs which aren’t necessarily every day, or ones where we can easily get time off.
What about when you are on this run every evening, then going into work the next morning? Don’t you have a certain amount of adrenalin to work through?
Well the nice thing about this show is that we’ve done it Edinburgh already so there shouldn’t be too many surprises When you do a show in Edinburgh it takes at least a week to bed in to the show so you get nerves associated with that. Hopefully for this show, though, we’ll have it finely honed.
And what’s your plans moving forward?
D- Well we’d obviously love to move into TV.
Is it something you are actively pursuing?
R- We are doing more videos, which is something we want to continue doing (check the link below for their most recent, ‘Bestiality’, though you might want to be a bit careful if you’re boss isn’t the sort to approve of songs concerning such subjects; the title is pretty descriptive).
D-The feedback for it was great and it was featured on a lot of comedy websites. We’re also going to be spending a lot of money on our Edinburgh show, much more than normal, in an attempt to create the very best show possible. After that, then, we can discuss which avenues we want to go down and whether we want to do it again. It’s a little tricky; in the post-SachsGate world getting something a little bit out there and potentially a bit offensive to some people onto TV is quite difficult.
R-And there’s always the case of whether something that works on stage works on TV. Whatever happens, we want creative control. At the end of the day, we’ll only get one shot at it so it needs to be perfect.
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