Matthew Crosby, one third of Pappy’s, chats to Victoria Nangle
(l-r, Ben, Matthew and Tom)
Matthew is new group Pappy’s, along with Ben Clark and Tom Parry. They used to be award-winning Pappy’s Fun Club with Brendan Dodds, but have ammended the name since his departure in November. So what is this Pappy’s show all about? Matthew explains the show, the group and a massive whale costume.
V: So, what happened with Brendan?
M: This is the way it’s going to be with a lot of interviews now, isn’t it?
V: Well, you’ve actually taken the ‘Fun’ out of ‘Pappy’s Fun Club’ with Brendan. What’s happened?
M: Yeah, I know. What we all described – it was friendly terms – as ‘political courtesy’ was why we decided to change the name. But obviously we didn’t want to change the name so that people didn’t know who we were. So unfortunately with Brendan went the ‘Fun’ and the ‘Club’. Who knew? Who knew he was two thirds? We always thought he was one quarter. So yes, Pappy’s Fun Club has gone.
Basically, the relationship we had with Brendan ran its course. We took it as far as we thought it could go for this, so we’re just kind of moving on. That’s about as much as I can say. A lot of it’s been written about on Twitter and Facebook and places like that. You know, the story’s out there. Ultimately, we just couldn’t really carry on doing what we did. Any scene of any kind will tell you this, sometimes it’s just difficult to maintain – just to get four people at the same time in the same place is tricky enough. So, yeah that’s kind of it. That’s a fairly unsuccessful answer for you.
V: You had differences and came the end of your relationship but wish Brendan well with any future endeavours but they won’t be with you?
M: That’s correct. He’s got his own things going on and we’ve got our own things going on, and I guess that’s the way it’s going to go.
V: The show that you’re touring, is that the one from Edinburgh 2009?
M: It is, yes.
V: With three players?
M: A slightly amended version, yes.
V: Was that tricky to amend?
M: You know, it wasn’t impossible. There are a few things that we had to drop from the show. The one thing we definitely had to drop was the four horsemen of the apocalypse sketch which was never particularly successful. It was basically building towards a pun. Nothing particularly wrong with that; we have plenty of sketches that build towards puns. We’re not unhappy to scrap that. But it hasn’t been that tricky to adapt, because we just sort of absorb lines. That’s the way it goes.
V: How would you describe the show to someone who hasn’t seen it?
M: It is an attempt to break a world record, but if you know anything about Pappy’s Fun Club you’ll know that our attempts aren’t always running as smoothly as we would like them to. It’s everything in the title. It’s Pappy’s world record attempt. Right at the top of the show Tom will always say, “we heavily stress the word ‘attempt’”, and that’s the phrase that sums up the show more than anything else.
V: Pappy’s has a history of using its own inventions. What would you like to have the most?
M: We’ve always done a lot of time travel in our shows. We seem to have a kind of historical element, like Julius Caesar appearing or travelling back in time to complete a medieval ritual. If we had to invent something as a team, it would probably be some sort of time travelling device. We’re all fascinated with history, but especially the incongruity of all of the historical characters being in a modern world. It probably comes back to being a bit like Bill and Ted. But yes, I could see us as a bit of a three man Bill and Ted, travelling around, bringing people from the past to the present day and putting on big shows. If we could actually really do whatever we wanted that would be it.
V: Will you be incorporating new sketches into this show that you’re touring?
M: Yes, we will. We’re doing these shows every night and we want to make it fun for ourselves so we try and add new things. So if you’ve seen us before there’ll be parts that you’ve seen before but also new bits. At the moment, we don’t have to come up with the title for the next show until, I think, April so we’ll start writing. See what’s there. The year we did our Funergy show (running the show entirely upon fun) we wrote sketches that were to do with the environment and then we strung them all together around an environmental theme. With this year’s show the title came first. We haven’t got our big all-encompassing idea yet so we’ll just write them and see what people like and tailor that to our sort of adventure.
V: What do you think is the most important thing in creating a good sketch group?
M: The most important ingredient is good sketches. I think that’s it really. If you write funny sketches the chances are that your sketch group will be successful. One of the things that we don’t have on our side, and I always get jealous of sketch groups that do have it, is really great performance. We can’t really act. Even when we’re doing a character we’re normally very clearly ‘Tom putting on a voice’.
V: But we can never tell whether Tom is really winding you up on stage.
M: A lot of people say: “I love the way you’re fake angry on stage”. There’s no fakery. I’m going to have a heart attack by the time I’m 35 just from hanging out with Tom and Ben. Tom will go off on these tangents, and I’ll be trying to hold the show together and steer it back into where the show should be going. I’ll turn to Ben and go: “Come on, you should be on my side,” and Ben’s just stuck in the middle. Always laughing. You know, I think in the average Pappy’s show Ben laughs more than the audience does.
V: Have you ever hit each other on stage?
M: I’ve been accidentally hit in the balls by Tom. I remember the pain. I’ve just blocked out every other memory as to why it happened.
V: Could it have been involving the whale (in Funergy)?
M: The whole whale thing! I was stuck inside this plastic costume and all I had to do was be inside the costume. Basically I could’ve been replaced by a piece of wood. I was there holding up the costume so it didn’t fall over while Tom screamed and shouted. Tom has lost a lot of weight recently so he was going through this weight loss plan and that involves eating lots of cous cous, red peppers and the stuff that doesn’t necessarily agree with a constitution that’s normally used to eating KFC four times a day. So I was stuck inside this horrible flappy costume with Tom, while he was sweating out all of these roasted veg – not just ‘sweating’ out – so certainly I’ve been very nearly injured a few times. Actually, at the end of last year’s show there was a lot more chance to get injured because I had to fall on the ground and have a thing land on my head. I think the person who’s most likely to get injured this year is, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s injured already, is Ben because he has to carry Tom around. It’s really funny because the audience won’t see it but from the side of the stage I get to watch Ben putting on one of those weight-lifter style back braces. It’s incredible. It’s hidden under the costume. But that’s always a joy.
V: You never think, ‘I’m fed up with Tom, I’m going to hit him’?
M: I don’t believe in violence. What annoys Tom more – obviously I’m not particularly physically imposing, but just being snarky and sarcastic actually tends to be the thing that works more than, y’know – a slap in the face. Basically, what we do on stage is an extension of who we are in real life.
V: You do sound very much like brothers in that you’ve worked out what annoys him the most.
M: Yes! Exactly. By the way, this is not the way to come up with a successful sketch group. Don’t work out all the things that annoy your compadres the most. With Tom he’s just like an overgrown child. He gets very overexcited. That’s his style. He can’t avoid it. Ben is kind of dopey and sweet and silly, but ultimately he will side with Tom. I’m there like some sort of frustrated single mother – also, I’m incredibly pedantic and pernickety and fastidious – not at all suited to being in a knock around sketch group when you think about it, because I’m being constantly frustrated by people messing around and that’s all we do really.
V: Sounds like you’re an integral part of a knock around sketch group to get anything done.
M: Exactly. So I’m there to regiment the anarchy. To stop people having too much fun.
Pappy’s presents a World Record Attempt: 200 Sketches in an Hour (Plus Bonus Sketches and an Interval), Komedia, Thursday 21 January 2010, 8pm, £12/10.