Daddy fool - Pappy’s Fun Club
This article is from 2008.
With the spirit of The Monkees and Monty Python coursing through their comedic veins, sketch troupe Pappy’s Fun Club tell Marissa Burgess that cash worries have fuelled their success
Following their if.comeddie nomination at last year’s Fringe, the Pappy’s Fun Club boys found themselves going from playing a makeshift tent off the Cowgate to performing at the awards showcase at the Garrick Theatre in London’s West End. Just when the nerves were getting the better of them they recalled that this was the very venue that they’d had a ‘revealing’ part in the filming of Phil Nichol’s The Naked Racist the previous year. ‘Oh hold on, I thought, I’ve had my cock out up there! The theatre didn’t hold any fear for us because we’d danced naked in it,’ divulges Tom Parry.
Though full-frontal nudity isn’t ordinarily one of Pappy’s charms there are plenty of others to be enjoyed in their shows. The feel is chaotic, interactive and, unlike many sketch troupes, informal. The camaraderie between the four (Parry, Brendan Dodds, Matthew Crosby and Ben Clark) recalls The Monkees TV shows in the 60s and in its sense of humour, the oddness and silliness of Monty Python. Characters trip into each other’s skits and there’s a tenuous theme; last year’s was that their unseen benefactor Pappy was ill while the taxman was after a chunk of the Fun Club’s lucre.
‘I think what we wanted to do was to pick those little worries that everyone has to deal with then take it to quite an extreme level,’ says Parry. ‘I don’t know whether that in some way makes the audience feel better about what they have to do in their day-to-day life but the thing with last year was I had a huge tax bill that was threatening whether I could carry on doing comedy. So we channelled a lot of the feelings we had about the taxman into this big villain character.”
For 2008, some kitchen concerns between Parry and Ben Clark in the house they shared has inspired the show’s theme. ‘We argued about who was going to do the recycling and why haven’t you rinsed out your jar of Dolmio? So Pappy is angry at us because we’re wasting energy and damaging his planet; one joke we’re going with is we’ve melted his polar fun cap.’
The origins of Pappy’s Fun Club lie in the unlikely setting of the little-known Wolverhampton Bible belt. ‘Ben and I went to the same Baptist church, we met each other when we were about ten and started performing in Sunday school just doing little sketches. We used to try and jazz them up, really sad stuff like Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure in the Bible: “we’ve travelled back in time to the Bible, dude!”’
The pair went on to join a youth theatre group before Parry went to university in Canterbury where he met and started to work with Dodds and Crosby. Parry introduced the pair to Clark and they put on comedy nights around Kent and back in Wolverhampton. And the name? ‘Brendan wanted it to be someone’s Fun Club and one of Matthew’s friends was pregnant at the time and discussing names for their baby. Matthew loved the idea of a baby called Pappy, a really old man’s name for a young child.’ And lo, Pappy’s Fun Club was born. For any act, following up an award-nominated show is a tricky biscuit to bake, but Pappy’s have dusted off their best oven gloves and are hard at it in the flat. ‘You can go up to Edinburgh and try to better last year but it’s going to be a very pressured situation,’ says Parry. ‘But I think once you get over that initial feeling, you just want to go and have a lot of fun. Last year we had such a lovely time and if we can get a show together that’s fun to perform and we’re having fun then we can go and have a really great time again. I think that’s the way it’s going at the moment, we’re really excited about it.
Pappy's Fun Club, Pleasance Courtyard, The Pleasance, 0131 556 6550, 3-25 Aug (not 11), 6.40pm, £12-14 (£10.50-£12.50). Previews 30 Jul-2 Aug, £5.