The 2016 Cork Midsummer Festival is here, presenting a feast of quality arts events, both national and international, at venues around the city for audiences of all ages. Don O’Mahony talks to two of the participating artists, Lords of Strut and Penny Arcade.
SHOWS by Lords of Strut defy easy description. The local comedy duo tend to bring their own anarchic brand of logic to proceedings where anything can happen and usually does. This time around our heroes are about to launch themselves into the world of television. Their latest show is called Lords of Strut Late Night TV Talk Show and it comes with the beautiful tagline: ‘The action packed TV talk show that is all talk and no action’.
“Except it’s full of action,” smiles Cian Kinsella, who is one half of the duo. Conjuring images of Wayne and Garth broadcasting their irreverent cable show from their garage in Wayne’s World, Kinsella describes it as being “like an Irish TV talk show that would never get on RTÉ, with all the stumbles of Pat Kenny and all the glitz of Strictly Come Dancing.”
Late Night TV Talk Show takes a different approach to their previous show Chaos, which played in the 2014 Midsummer Festival to wild acclaim. Chaos saw Kinsella and his co-conspirator Cormac Mohally utilise their circus and street performance background to create a strong sense of interaction with the audience. Most of the comedy springs from the dynamic between Sean-tastic and Famous Seamus, the fame-obsessed idiot brothers played by Kinsella and Mohally, but with this show they wanted to change things around a bit.
“With Chaos we wanted a wild and involved audience,” reflects Kinsella.
“In this show we are not giving the audience that opportunity. There is more sit back and watch moments. This show is almost more like a battle between the two characters. One is trying to create the show that he wants and the other is trying to create the show that the other wants.”
Kinsella describes Late Night TV Talk Show as more sketch-based, saying it required much more work on the script so that both could be thoroughly satisfied with it.
“The TV format gives us room as performers to jump from sketch to sketch to sketch to sketch, but we’re not really sketch performers. So we are able to run a narrative through it. So it’s like sketch, sketch, sketch, sketch. They all kind of seem unrelated though they lead into the other, but by the end they all create a picture,” says Kinsella.
“We tour for months on end. With Chaos we toured two years so we have to be able to enjoy the material a lot and also within the material f**k with each other a bit so that we can always find the laughs on various different nights and from the outset find lots of fun in it ourselves. So this has to be fun for us and by us demanding that fun element ourselves it led us to better solutions within the material.” Audiences can expect the usual brand of absurdist humour but this time around Kinsella promises rapping, dance routines and puppetry. It promises to be a crazy ride.
“We want to have two feelings in the room,” outlines Kinsella. “One is that we’re all in the room. They’re the audience and we’re there onstage and we’re talking to each other. Not actually a conservation, but it’s very much there. And then in another split second we’re all somewhere else and our characters, in whatever they’re doing, which is a bit odd or weird, are allowed to be in this other place and the audience can accept it. And the next minute we’re back in the room again and we’re doing a different thing.
“And we’ve never played with that in shows before. It’s always been in the room or on the street together. We’re all in the same room and it’s all been about being in the room.”
As an example of what Lords of Strut are trying to create with this show Kinsella cites examples from the cult 80s comedy show The Young Ones, which featured scenes of rats playing cards and a carrot skating on the plate.
The premise of the show may be pretty straight forward: the Lords of Strut have their own TV show with invited guests but they also want to bring a cartoon logic to proceedings. It’s like we’re allowed to say we’re on TV and people will go ‘oh, they’re on TV’. And we’re allowed to say: ‘And now I’m a rock, and I’m a talking rock’, and people will go ‘okay, he’s a talking rock,’” explains Kinsella.
At the end of the day it’s about entertainment but it also involves an element of commentary.
“It’s about entertainment and the business of entertainment and we’re in the business of entertainment. We make shows to entertain,” says Kinsella purposefully.
“It’s about making people laugh and also making people question a little bit about this bubble that we’re all in that is celebrity.”
* The Lords of Strut Late Night TV Talk Show previews tonight at 8pm and runs on Friday and Saturday at 10pm at the Cork Arts Theatre.