Freeze! - Cold comfort
This article is from 2008.
Tom Basden may be an award-winning comic but, he tells David Pollock, that doesn’t stop him from being tormented by a fellow-Coward
‘I just didn’t want to rush a follow-up to the show I did in Edinburgh last year,’ says comedian Tom Basden, current holder of the title if.comeddie Best Newcomer. ‘But I dunno; now all my friends are starting to head up there to do their own gigs, I do feel a twinge of regret. I’ll be back next year.’ Basden, ever-mindful of the fact that ‘there’s never a good year not to do the Fringe’ is nevertheless on a promise to his girlfriend to sit this year out and go do some holidaying.
He will be stopping by for a few days, however, to renew his stake in a couple of group shows that require his involvement. The first is Freeze!, a two-man show that features regular collaborator Tim Key, and the second is Radio 4 comedy Cowards, featuring Basden, Key, Stefan Golaszewski and Lloyd Woolf. Three live recordings of Cowards will be made at the Fringe, for broadcast later in the year.
Where Cowards is a straight sketch show, and the group’s first Fringe appearance since 2006, Freeze! is the piece that went on to inspire both Basden and Key’s own solo outings. ‘It was Valentine’s Day several years ago,’ says Basden. ‘Lloyd and Stefan both had girlfriends, so we were forced to do a show without them. We did a few sketches and mucked around, and it developed into a peculiar mixture of Tim’s poems and my songs, body art and mime, housework and prayer. It’s good fun, I think, and a good testing ground for new ideas.’
Does it count as a sketch or a stand-up show? ‘I think it’s best described as a mixture of power-play and cruelty, mainly Tim’s cruelty to me. We aim to take the double act to its most violent extreme; I get hit and thrown about a bit, or have pints of beer thrown over me. I think sometimes people find it unnerving.’
Should he survive, Basden will set about planning his solo return to the Fringe next year. His Underbelly award-winner in 2007 was Tom Basden Won’t Say Anything, a virtually wordless show, and he aims to go similarly high-concept next time. ‘There are so many shows at the Fringe that you have to do something to stand out. I don’t just want to repeat the last formula, but I do like the thought of creating something that holds together as a show, rather than just forcing together various different ideas.’
Cowards, Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, 13 Aug, 5.15pm, free
Freeze!, Pleasance Dome, 556 6550, 14–16 Aug, 11pm, £10.50 (£9).