Frisky and Mannish interview - Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2011
Infectious pop parodies via the twisted side streets of camp cabaret
This article is from 2011.
Frisky and Mannish's infectious pop parodies have brought them five-star reviews and widespread Fringe adulation. This year they're launching their most ambitious show to date. But, they tell Jay Richardson, they're still happy to do weddings
It has often been remarked that in times of recession, we all seek reassurance from flamboyant pop parody duos. Hence the buzz around Frisky and Mannish's creation for the 2011 Fringe, Pop Centre Plus, which after School of Pop and The College Years, completes their devilishly glam riposte to Simon Cowell's production line of singing automatons. Mashing up the likes of Rihanna, Justin Bieber, The Bee Gees and Elvis Presley, Laura Corcoran (Frisky) and Matthew Jones (Mannish) will show how to fake it until you make it in the music industry via the twisted side streets of camp cabaret.
After a 'rollercoaster' first two festivals, in which the pair became a word-of-mouth phenomenon and Corcoran contracted swine flu, they've quit their original cave venue 'with plague growing in the walls' and relocated to the giant inflatable Udderbelly.
No longer punchy Oxford University upstarts, they're now in the comedy big leagues, thanks in part to regular Radio 1 appearances on Scott Mills' show, and a well-viewed collection of YouTube videos. In response, they've gone more glam.
'We're so excited about upping the spectacle,' Corcoran enthuses. 'We've got a bigger stage, bigger lights, a projector, fantastic sound system and we've been working with a producer making tracks to accompany us every now and then, just to fully realise the spoofs. It's been amazingly fun staying true to what we've been doing but raising the stakes a little.'
Mindful of being perceived as prima donnas for having an entourage ('it's just one person'), they're otherwise embracing divadom. 'At the start, our real selves and who we are on stage were separate,' Corcoran explains. 'We wouldn't have worn anything like we do now but it's starting to creep into our real lives. Matthew's trousers are ever more fitted and my girls are increasingly on show.'
'Conceived in a bedroom' three years ago, the pair have already graced such grand venues as Sydney Opera House. So it seems equally conceivable that they might some day eclipse the pop stars they're parodying. 'I'm not sure our act is too arena-friendly,' muses Jones, 'but if you asked us to play the O2, we'd absolutely do it.'
And what about the acts they spoof? Have they had any feedback from targets such as Destiny's Child or Girls Aloud? So far, they've only met Kate Nash, 'although we did get a tweet from Whigfield saying she enjoyed our version of "Saturday Night" on Radio 1', Corcoran reveals. 'Nothing from Girls Aloud yet. Quite frankly, that's the only reason we do "Wheels on the Bus" [set to the music of "Sound of the Underground"]. I'm obsessed with them and living for the moment when Sarah Harding gets in touch.'
Until then they're keeping down to earth. They respond to all electronic correspondence personally, however weird and sexualised, and sign every pair of breasts thrust at them - 'always boobs, never chests,' Jones observes. They even do weddings. 'Our best was an 80s-themed lesbian civil partnership,' Corcoran recalls. 'One was dressed as Michael Jackson, the other as Madonna from "Like a Virgin". With roller skating drag queens as bridesmaids. If they want us at their wedding, then it's going to be a good one.'
Frisky and Mannish's soundtrack to the 2011 Fringe
The rallying cry of the optimistic thesp
'Let's Get Ready to Rumble' - PJ & Duncan
After months of preparation, you are ready to charge, armoured with show hoodies, full-colour flyers, and game-face. BRING IT.
The first big shop
'The Trolley Song' - Judy Garland
Gaily skipping around Scotmid, optimistically buying fresh vegetables (that will rot in the salad crisper) and flyering weary native cashiers. NB: they will not come and see your show. They work in Scotmid.
The first show reviewed
'You Make Me Wanna Die' - The Pretty Reckless
Just when you thought you had a few days to work it in, Three Weeks go and send their most embittered critic (a second year from Exeter) to your preview. Two stars: 'the performers certainly give it their all.' Ouch.
The pathetic fallacy
'Why Does it Always Rain on Me?' - Travis
As your spirits sink (and you sink more spirits), the weather will reflect your mood with the classic Edinburgh downpours. Dry off your galoshes in Chocolate Soup. Oh wait, you can never get a FRICKIN TABLE!
The communicable diseases/plague
'What Goes Around … Comes Around' - Justin Timberlake
Everyone will get ill. It's just a question of when, and what.
The producer's woe
'Breakeven' - The Script
As if. You'd need to sell 350% of your remaining tickets. Good luck with that. Oh, and nice badges.
The big hit
'2 Man Show' - Timbaland and Elton John
What everyone's been going to see. Hip hop's biggest mogul and the world's most famous gay, in a two-hander about AIDS. Assembly's big production, in a 4000-seater venue, that's been sold out since June.
'Why' - Annie Lennox
Why-y-y-y-y-y? Just why?
The Royal Mile
'Boulevard of Broken Dreams' - Green Day
What was once a place of rosy-cheeked students in tableaux is now a sodden stretch of disappointment, plastered with yesterday's posters, selling yesterday's shows. Ooooh, look! A Korean gymnastic team!
Drink the bar dry
'Pass Out' - Tinie Tempah
All that's left is to help with the clean-up by emptying the contents of the bars. Pass out? If you don't, you're not doing it right.
Reflections from September
'The Winner Takes it All' - Abba
Some shows are transferring to the West End, going on an Australian tour, and being made into TV shows. You have debt, liver damage and chlamydia. But you've already booked your accommodation for next year.
Frisky and Mannish, Udderbelly's Pasture, Bristo Square, 0844 545 8252, 6–28 Aug (not 8, 15, 22), 9.30pm, £12–£14 (£10.50–£12.50). Previews 3–5 Aug, £7.