So, what can we expect from " Richard Soames Does The Right Thing"?
It's a stand up-come-sketch show about me being a nice person and my attempts and varying successes of trying to do the right thing in life. It's also got a lot of cool soundscapes in it. So you know, come if you like ambience.
In 2014 you did a half show with "The Story Beast". Did you enjoy being on stage just by yourself?
I did and I do. It's odd, it's never been my dream to be an out and out stand up comedian, but I've really enjoyed being on stage by myself. That show last year was a bit of a cowardly attempt at solo stand up because we were helping each other through it, but this year it's for real!
Are their connections between that show and "Richard Soames Does The Right Thing"?
Yes and no. I think about 5 minutes from that show has survived the multiple rewrites and culls that this show has undergone and continues to. But last year was incredibly helpful in finding out what I sound like on stage.
Do you feel under pressure doing a full solo show this year?
Umm... not really. If anything I kind of feel less pressure because it's my first one so I'm an unknown quantity. Returning as a sketch group, or any act, year on year builds expectation and pressure but no-one's said they can't wait to see if I can do better than last year. It's great!
Are you excited or nervous?
Can I be both? Neither? All three.
How have previews been going?
Really nicely, thanks. As ever it's difficult to persuade people to come and see a show which isn't finished, which you don't really know well enough and which is going to be better next time, but people have said some lovely things. And laughed. And one man gave me 8/10 on a seemingly arbitrary scoring system which was not published anywhere.
Are Edinburgh previews enjoyable or just a necessary evil?
I have to say despite the panic attacks beforehand, they're my favourite gigs. I love it when stuff goes slightly wrong and it's the first time in your show when you make genuine discoveries on stage. Michael Legge posted something on Facebook the other day which encouraged people to go to previews precisely for that reason - they are some of the most fun, exciting and spontaneous gigs you'll ever see.
This year the Beta Males return for a few days with a "Greatest Hits". Why is their no new show?
Well... therein lies a tale. No, we just wanted a year off. We've been coming up for 6 years in a row now and we devote so much time in a year towards that Edinburgh show (essentially 6 months). We just wanted to see what other stuff we could do if we didn't go up for a year. So far, the world is still turning...
How hard was it choosing what Beta Males material to use and to lose?
We met the other day and went back and forth a lot on our favourites... It's hard because you've got to make a show that works in its own right, with its own rhythm as well as including the best possible sketches. And we had a lovely time last year but we didn't want to do too many from Happenstance. Also John Henry is determined to do our worst sketch, so a lot of emails are currently being sent to change his mind.
Why are you only doing 4 shows?
Well, I think it's self indulgent enough to do a Best Of in the first place isn't it...?! I think if we did it 25 times, we might feel even cheaper than we already do. That said, if all our solo careers fail in August, maybe next year we'll be back with "The Singles" for the whole month.
And why start at midnight?
It's pretty much the only time that doesn't clash with our other shows! We've got a busy year this year, each of us is doing 2 or 3 shows a day, so timetabling the Best Of has been tricky.
Sketch comedy groups seem to have a limited shelf-life. Is this the end for the Beta Males?
Nah, probs not. We're not sure when our next Edinburgh will be but for the moment we just want to focus on creating different content for a while.
Having previously seen the likes of "The Penny Dreadfuls", "Idiots of Ants" etc come & go ,why do you think sketch companies don't last as long as solo comedians?
I don't know if that's necessarily true..? Pappys and Max&Ivan have shown you can make a great success out of being a sketch group/duo. I suspect a big reason there are more stand ups in the first place and arguably more longevity in the medium is mostly financial. Unfortunately however you cut it, splitting a profit between one other person or more is less than it was. That's maths. Add to that props, a technician, travel for more people, it becomes very hard to justify doing live sketch comedy as a career. But like I say it's not impossible and there are other ways of making sketch comedy work.
Similarly, why is there so little sketch comedy on television, "The Ginge, The Geordie and The Geek" and "Pappys" being the recent exceptions?
Again, I suspect it's partly financial. One man and a microphone is far cheaper to produce than 20 different locations, plus props and costumes. But I feel like the winds are changing. Some great radio sketch shows are being commissioned and the recent BBC comedy feeds look different and exciting. Who knows..?
Apart from "The Beta Males" who are your current favourite sketch groups?
Believe me The Beta Males is NOT my favourite sketch group. Umm... tough one... I will always love Pappys, they were quite inspirational for us. Lazy Susan are very exciting and I thought Beasts' show last year was the best sketch show I saw.
I am intrigued how performers fill their day in Edinburgh your show is at 18.50pm. Are you a quiet morning and afternoon person who parties after every show?
I don't know if they're mutually exclusive, but I will be mostly sleeping, having a nice breakfast, swimming (if I get my arse in gear) and doing my shows. I won't finish til midnight every day and mostly my plan is to go home with the other Betas and play boardgames.
I understand performers have a pass to see shows at their venue. Are there any particular shows you fancy watching at Underbelly?
Susan Harrison has a great show, as does the incredibly slick Gemma Arrowsmith. Also really looking forward to seeing Sad Faces adapting the whole of The Dawn Chorus, Lydia King and Megan Ford's character show.
Despite being inundated with flyers it occurred to us at DARKCHAT that as we are quite organised before we arrive we never watch a show due to a flyer. So, as a first this year we have allocated Sunday 9th August as Flyer Day. The plan is to leave our flat (near Arthur's Seat) and start walking down Nicholson Street and go to the 1st show we have a flyer for etc, & so forth. Does this sound a genius or a disastrous idea?
Hmmm... yeah why not?! That's very much in the spirit of the fringe! ... that said, I won't be joining you.
Finally, how do you plan to survive that month of mayhem?
Buy Smoothies. Drink Honey & Lemon. Eat proper meals. That's my triforce. Also don't stay out all night, don't smoke, don't climb Arthur's Seat at 4am, don't drink too much and don't forget to enjoy it!
This great interview may encourage you to spend most of a day just watching Beta Males performers.
Here is how you can do it:
If I have missed any please forgive me!