Check out our direct line into the devious minds of Tim and Simon - writers and stars of a brand new comedy podcast ...
Hey guys, thanks for being interviewed for the blog. Can you tell us how you both started out in the world of comedy?
Tim: My first dabble with comedy was as school when I was about 12. Me and a couple of friends wrote and performed a news comedy show called Rudolph’s Red News for the Christmas talent show. We came third, losing out to five lads performing as the Spice Girls. I’m still bitter although Ginger is now a damn good plasterer.
Simon: I can remember teaming up with a friend at primary school when I was about 6 to record a radio show onto tape. The imaginatively titled ‘Funny Show’ was a series of poo jokes, fart noises and a great deal of giggling. I’m happy to say that all these years later, my comedy has not progressed in the slightest.
Tim: But it wasn’t until we were at uni and doing a community radio show together that we started writing comedy.
"...all these years later, my comedy has not progressed in the slightest.."
How did you meet and why did you decide to team up?
Simon: We first met when we were extremely small and knee-high to a grown man.
Tim: Probably more like thigh-high, or hip-high, kids are taller than you think.
Simon: Ok, we were knee-high to a very very tall man. We’ve been through nursery, primary and secondary school together. In short, our friendship is older than Ernestine, the world’s oldest ever pig.
Tim: When we accidentally ended up doing the same course at the same uni together, we also joined Calon FM, the community radio station on campus where we did a weekly show. We kept adding comedy bits in and just try new things to make each other laugh and haven’t really stopped since.
"We’d create sketches and just try new things to make each other laugh and we haven’t really stopped."
Writing with a partner can be rewarding...but it can also be painful. What's your secret to a successful writing team?
Tim: Cuddles. Lots of cuddles.
Simon: I was going to say lube.
Tim: The real trick is finding each other funny and not being too precious about material. If one of you doesn’t find it funny, drop it. There’s always something else to squeeze in into its place.
Simon: That’s where the lube comes in.
'Don't be too precious about material. If one of you doesn’t find it funny, drop it."
What's your advice for those looking to find a writing partner?
Simon: We were lucky because we knew each other already. I guess you need to find someone who is like you but different. Like a sibling, but you don’t need to share a womb with a writing partner.
Tim: No, one womb between two is never that filling anyway.
Simon: If I ditched Tim in a canal tomorrow, I’d go to comedy gigs and talk to people, make friends, scour the internet for writers and make myself known. You’ll never find someone to write with if you don’t find people in the first place.
Tim: Also, don’t let anyone know that you ditched your previous writing partner in the canal.
"Go to comedy gigs and talk to people, make friends, scour the internet for writers and make yourself known"
You've just launched a brand new sketch podcast - what's it all about?
Tim: It’s basically a compilation of lots of silly ideas we’ve had over the last couple of years. We’ve been out of the podcast game for a while and thought this would be a great way of getting these little gems we’ve had floating around in our head out into the world.
Simon: It’s daft, fast paced and we also spent a lot of time on the production. We both had a very clear idea of what we wanted from the start. Punchy, well made and ultimately funny. We hope.
How important is it to create and share your own work as a writer? Why not just wait for a paid gig?
Simon: I think it’s really important to create! Especially for us, because when talking to people who ask about what we do, the inevitable question is, “where can I hear your work?” and “On BBC 4 Extra in a few years, if you’re lucky” never seems like the greatest reply.
Tim: So we’ve used the podcast as a showcase! You can wait forever for a paid gig, but get instant gratification for making something now and proving you can write. Plus it’s fun recording things, like waggling hot dogs. (I'm told this was a very important sound effect - Ed)
The production values on the show are really high - is that a 'must have' to stand out?
Tim: We’re both radio producers and made the decision from the off that we wanted this to be of high quality. A lot of podcasts just sound like they were recorded in someone’s front room and we wanted to make something that could stand shoulder to shoulder with anything you’d hear on Radio Four.
Simon: Although… This was recorded in my front room.
Tim: Shhhh Simon… We’re professionals.
Simon: I think that given our background in radio, we had to make this sound good. And if we’re showing off our writing, we’d rather it be presented on a velvet cushion than a used KFC bucket.
"We wanted to make something that could stand shoulder to shoulder with anything you’d hear on Radio Four."
This will be your fourth podcast - what sort of reaction did you get to the previous ones? Have they opened any doors for you?
Simon: Yes, it feels like a long time ago, but our podcasts were semi-successful. We broke into the iTunes charts a couple of times and led to us meeting some cool people.
Tim: They were essentially just us talking nonsense, so to have got anywhere is an achievement. But looking back we gained so much! We learnt about audio recording, editing and helped lay the foundations for our comedy writing.
Your tone is surreal, absurdist and fun! How important is it for a writer to develop their own unique voice?
Tim: It’s vital. We’re still trying to work ours out to be honest. There’s no point trying to copy someone else’s voice. They already exist and they do themselves better than you ever will!
Simon: As a general rule, we say that if it makes us laugh, someone else will too. Also, don’t emulate. We used to get compared to Adam and Joe in our podcasting days and whilst we’re fans of their work, we don’t want to be Adam and Joe. We want to be Tim and Simon.
Tim: And not Lovejoy and Rimmer. So please stop asking us for recipes.
"We used to get compared to Adam and Joe... but we want to be Tim and Simon."
If you could go back to when you first started writing comedy, what 3 tips would you give your younger selves (apart from the lottery numbers)
Tim: 1: Actually, something we used to do and something we see a lot of YouTubers doing is ending sketches with a death, stop doing that, and be more creative with endings!
Simon: 2: Get to the point quicker! Our early sketches are painful to read and listen to, because we could have easily trimmed the first minute and a half from most. On a related note, just throw your audience into the world, don’t spend ten pages explaining everything.
Tim: 3. Stop going for the low hanging fruit of crudeness. There is a time and place for it, just not ALL the time.
Simon: You said “low hanging” hurhurhur…
Tim: But, of course, we break at least two of these rules in The Sketch Show. So there are no hard and fast rules….
Simon: You said… “hard and f…”
Tim: I know what I said!
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