Brief Encounter With ... Which One Are You’s Steve McNeil and Sam Pamphilon
Date: 17 August 2011
For their sophomore year at the Fringe, Steve McNeil and Sam Pamphilon are bringing their show Which One Are You to Edinburgh. After filming for MTV, performing at London venues such as the Barbican and the Shaftesbury Theatre, and with a sitcom in development, the London-based comedy duo have a lot of advice to share.
What are the main Sketch Comedy venues?
Steve: There’s a number of great venues in London which host regular sketch comedy nights.
Sam: Often rooms in pubs that hold about 50 people.
Steve: The main ones for us would be The Albany, The Hen and Chickens, and The Wilmington Arms. Bar Kick also has a few nights…
Sam: …although the live televised sport upstairs can be frustrating!
What’s it like gigging on the sketch circuit?
Steve: I think because a lot of sketch comedians have a background in acting, and also because you’re working with a group of other people, there’s quite a lot of camaraderie between sketch acts. Also, a lot of the sketch acts on the circuit at the moment have very much got their own “thing” and so there’s not really the same sense of competition.
Sam: There’s also a lot more home-made props than you get in stand-up. Sketch acts own big bags. They always look like they’re moving in. Also, you very rarely get paid.
Steve: We tend to lose around £25-£30 per show which, of course, is absolutely awesome.
How is it different performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival?
Steve: Well, first of all, we lose a lot more money. Which, of course, is absolutely awesome.
Sam: It's relentless. But in a good way. For an entire month, you're in a very vulnerable but wonderfully self-indulgent bubble.
Steve: It is a lot of hard work, certainly. Although you're only doing the show for an hour a day, it's a full time job with flyering, scouring reviews for quotes which you then get to print, cut out, and try to attach to the 500 posters you've hidden in cafe toilets around the city.
Sam: And obviously because all of the other acts are in the same city for a month, there's a lot of shows to go and see, and a lot of late nights in the bar afterwards. And King Rib suppers. You can't get them in London.
Steve: I had one in Milton Keynes. I had to teach the guy how to do it, but it was totally worth it. I've gained 3 stone.
Sam: I feel we've gone off on something of a tangent. But, it's about King Rib suppers, so that's fine.
What would your advice be to any aspiring sketch-comedians?
Sam: Back off – there’s too many of us already. It’s full.
Steve: Seriously though, although it’s a cliché, there really aren’t any short cuts. You just have to keep writing, all the time, and gig as often as possible. You never really know if something’s going to work until you try it out in front of a live audience.
Sam: Also - find out who’s running nights by going to the venue’s websites, then track down the organizers on facebook or twitter. You need to be a mix of Columbo and that woman that got done for following Halle Berry around.
McNeil and Pamphilon's show Which One Are You can be seen from the 3-28 August (excl 17), 17.40 at the Pleasance Dome.
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