DarkChat - Reviewing the Edinburgh Fringe since 2008
So, when and where did you all meet?
JOHN HENRY: It's a long and convoluted story.
RICH: Basically, John Henry and Adam grew up together on Jersey with a couple of other Beta peeps.
ADAM: And I met Jon Gracey at Durham University
JH: And I met Rich at UCL
GUY: And I met Adam on the set of Kickass
R: And then we got rid of Jon Gracey.
JH: That was actually pretty concise.
Was there an instant connection?
A: God no. It's taken years and years of intense rehearsals to hone what appears to be our "natural, spontaneous onstage chemistry"
G: I hate it.
What can we expect from Happenstance?
R: We called it that partly because we wanted a show that captured a sense of serendipity, coincidences knocking into each other and the idea of cause and effect manifesting in a menagerie of characters and scenarios feeding off one another but mainly because it was already March and we had no idea what we were going to do.
JH: But the show does capture that idea of things happening and having consequences.
Was it an easy show to write?
A: It has been more freeing than previous shows as we approached this year completely differently to previous years. Rather than starting with a world/concept and filling it with sketches and characters, we started with sketches which could be about anything and we've found the story, the connections and the world within them.
Is it fully-formed or will it constantly evolve?
JH: Every Edinburgh show evolves during the run and ours usually get messier.
R: Weirdly, this one is far looser than previous shows in terms of its formulation and presentation, but I think it has the least room to change.
We have spotted there is no Jon Gracey this festival? Any reason?
JH: That traitor left to be with his girlfriend and pursue a genuinely meaningful and exciting life in Australia.
R: We're super proud, but we miss him.
G: Seriously who?
This year you are also doing two separate free shows, can we ask why, and what can we expect?
JH: Every sketch group dies.
A: With good reason.
G: We know this will be the last Beta Edinburgh show at least for a while and possibly ever, so we just want to try out some new stuff really.
R: I'm doing nice, affable character-y stand up with John Henry who is The Storybeast.
JH: That is essentially modern bardolatry from a terrifying man in a coat.
A: I'm doing twisted children's stories along with Guy.
G: And I'm just telling you sad, upsetting stories about me.
JH: Plus ca change.
Both shows are listed in the Fringe bible as containing the two best ones from "The Beta Males". But to ensure we don't waste a valuable hour, which DOES contain the two BEST ones?
R & JH: Ours.
G & A: Ours.
A few years ago we saw "The Beta Males Midnight Movie" and were so impressed we later tracked down "Spiders 2". Can you recommend any other "classic" horror movies?
G: My parents' sex tape.
JH: A perennial beta-fave is Jack Frost.
A: Not the Michael Keaton one.
JH: It’s about a felon being transported to death row at Christmas. His transit collides with a truck of genetic material. A rampant, murderous, lecherous snowman is born!
A: It’s not the Michael Keaton one.
When did you first come to the Edinburgh Festival and why?
A: The Betas first came to the fringe in 2009 in a much better incarnation.
JH: Without Rich and Guy.
R/G: No that's fine.
JH: We'd been making each other laugh for years and wanted to see if it was possible to do the same to strangers.
What did you expect?
A: Crippling indifference.
How did the reality differ from your expectations?
JH: People laughed. We've moved on a lot since then - one of the sketches featured two crusty poshos dissecting the lyrics to Kellis's 'Milkshake'-
A: But we made people laugh. It gave us the confidence/self-delusion to think we could do this long-term.
What is the best thing about the festival?
R: Honestly? The best thing is just being able to have fun with my friends on stage.
JH: Can't wait for that to happen.
What is the worst thing about the festival?
A: Probably the pressure and the importance acts put on other people's opinions.
R: Agreed. If you enjoy doing your show and you think it's funny, you should just do that and not worry about what people say.
What has changed over the years?
A: The line-up, mostly.
G: We're basically the Sugababes of comedy.
JH: Only one of us has been heroic enough to be in every show. One champion, one earthborn battleblood warrior.
R: It's John Henry.
A/ For the better –
JH: When Adam left for two years.
B/ For the worst –
JH: When Guy replaced him.
Roughly how many shows do you see each festival?
R: As many as our company passes will allow.
G: We're very poor.
What has been your favourite Edinburgh show to watch?
A: Last Show Ever by Pappy's was amazing.
JH: Dead Cat Bounce - Late Night Radio.
R: The Pennys have always been right up there for us.
Who were your/are comedy influences?
A: League of Gentlemen
JH: Big Train
R: The Pythons
G: The Simpsons
What is your biggest tip for surviving this forthcoming month of mayhem?
A: Steal John Henry's Berocca.
What would you most like to change about the Edinburgh festival?
R: I would love it to be cheaper and easier for people to see more shows for less pounds.
A: Fewer pounds.
R: …less pounds.
Who would you most like to see in the audience one night?
R: That would be pretty amazing.
Which one box set would you all sit down and watch?
R: I would go for Parks & Rec, just because it's so darn warm.
The Beta Males
We have been big fans of The Beta Males since we saw "The Train Job" (nominated for Best Show of 2011) and have since enjoyed "The Beta Males Midnight Movie", "The Space Race", "Superopolis" and are planning to cover all three of their shows this year.
Here we talk to the 2 best ones (and the other 2) about their history, their history with the Fringe and not about Michael Keaton.