Christ impersonations and online machinations: a nice chat with Cariad Lloyd
Andrew Mickel10 July 2012
The busiest character and improv lady in the business talks about her new show and upcoming telly work...
Lovely little Cariad Lloyd – we're not being patronising, she is tiny and very nice – landed an newcomer award nomination last year for her Free Fringe character comedy show. Since then she's popped up in everything from Cardinal Burns to Dawson Bros Funtime (commission a full series now, BBC Three) and has 'quite a lot on' both upcoming telly shows and this year's Edinburgh Fringe.
She tells us about picking characters for this year's show, why Zooey Deschanel is ripe for comedy and parenthood with Humphrey Ker.
BUT FIRST UP, here's one of the BBC Comedy shorts...
There seems to be a change in terms of characters this year: last year's could have been from any time period, but this year they seem to be based in something current – a Scandinavian detective, a Zooey Deschanel take-off...
Ah, Moominmama. It's actually about the Moomins, but lots of people don't remember them so it might not make the final show. It's not actually about The Killing. It's been referenced but it's not a Sarah Lund thing, it's much more obscure.
Are there any other characters who haven't made the show?
Someone I really like at the moment is Alan Lantern, the UK's leading Jesus impersonator. I put on a giant white sheet and tie my hair with a hairband to my chin. I come on to Jesus Christ Superstar and I dance for ages, and then I go, 'hey, it's me, Alan Lantern, the UK's number one Jesus impersonator!' But I had to take him out because it just wasn't working. I loved him, but audiences weren't going it for as much I was...
How about the Zooey Deschanel character?
Ah, Joey Bechamel. I feel bad, because I don't want to hate another woman. I don't hate Zooey Deschanel.
I think it's okay to hate Zooey Deschanel.
Well, she's an actress and she works, but I think the way she's marketed is incredibly cynical, and I find it incredibly offensive that she's marketed to me as a woman, when there's this subcurrent of male fantasy going on.
I find it really annoying that women my age think she's so cool. If she had blonde hair and a boob job and continued to say what she says on New Girl, you would hate her. And what they've done is hide it behind some hair and glasses like some awful 1980s film. And the idea that she's not attractive when she's actually a paid model is patronising.
Do you watch Girls?
I haven't. I watched 2 Broke Girls because I got confused...I'm working my way through Parks and Recreation at the moment instead.
What characters from last year's show are coming back?
Andrew [the child stand-up] is coming back and Cockney Sam. But Sam only got back in a week ago, so who knows?
So you're doing the show at the Pleasance and not at the Free Fringe this year...
Yeah. It wasn't a political decision. When I did the Free Fringe I had an amazing time; I think PBH is incredible and I owe him last year's Edinburgh. But I had to do everything – I was ushering, directing press five minutes before the show, and people were come in and out of the venue as a hot room and I'd have to go and close the door.
I just wanted a space I had some control over. Last year I didn't have an agent or anything and no venue would touch me. It enables people like me to put on a show without bankrupting yourself, and actually make money.
The BBC Comedy shorts were fantastic, were they a finite thing?
Basically I was in short film 0507, which was nominated for a Best Short Film before Edinburgh last year. It got nominated for best short, and then after that Rough Cut approached us. They really liked 0507 and asked if there was a continuation. They gave us some money and we carried on. There's one more to come out called Lamb and Macaroni. It's...a bit weird. But the Blaine Brothers [the guys who made it] are incredible film makers. [Oh look, it's out!]
It's interesting with a lot of comedy shorts like on the BBC and with Channel 4's Blaps that they're being commissioned, but no-one seems to know how to then cultivate acts for to TV. Have you had any TV discussions yet?
I think people are still trying to work out how to make the internet work for this, still trying to work out how to make it. Kitty and 0507 were pre-Edinburgh. But it's still difficult for people because there's viral videos which are quick and easily accessible and easily shared but aren't necessarily the best things. You might send your friend a cat falling off a table, but you don't want that cat to have its own show.
So do you do these things with one eye on doing TV?
You're trying to write for the medium, a self-contained story, and you're not trying to make a sitcom. That might be my naivety but I'm just trying to create a good online sketch.
There's other work coming through with spots on the Cardinal Burns show.
I know the guys from the circuit but I did audition for it. I've seen them live a lot...I felt very privileged to be involved in that. I knew the director Ben Taylor because he'd worked a lot with Idiots of Ants. I've really admired him as a director. I think the end product is an incredible piece of film making though. [We should note that Cariad at this point noted how 'wank' it is to refer to an 'incredible piece of film making' but given the show really was very good we'll let it stand.]
And you're on the CBBC show Fit too. There's a headlong rush of comedians into kids' TV at the moment...
Well, you say that, but I just auditioned for the job. It's from the Horrible Histories guys who have a history of using comedians, and they have a wonderful ethos of not patronising. Instead of history it's about fitness and sport. I'm not it a huge deal...
We did speak to Humphrey Ker about the show a few weeks ago.
Yeah, that was weird. We had loads of kids around us and we're the Mum and Dad. And Al Campbell directed it, who did the Dawson Bros pilot I'm in too...
Any plans post-Edinburgh?
I have a habit of not letting September doesn't exist. Last year I was just Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Edinburgh. I'm just trying to get through it and then carry on developing stuff. Right now I'm thinking, Alan might not make this year so how am I going to bring him back next year...
Do you worry about taking too much on?
I don't know. I feel really lucky to have so much on the table on the moment because there was certainly a time when that wasn't the case. I feel really, really privileged. Improv? You're never going to give up your job for improv. But I just want to carry on making stuff. We've still got two videos with the BBC to come out, including parkour in Paris. If people keep offering opportunities I'll very gratefully accept them.
You can catch a preview of Cariad's show tomorrow (as in, Wednesday) at the Leicester Square Theatre. The Edinburgh show, Freewheelin' Cariad Lloyd is over here. She's also in Austentatious on the Free Fringe and part of the rolling cast on improvised chat show Monkey Toast.
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