Comedy gets actorly: Matthew Jones on the darkness of Punch
Andrew Mickel5 July 2012
Frisky and Mannish's Matthew Jones on his new acting role: playing a comedian...
Frisky and Mannish's pop act might not be the most Newsnight-serious show of them all, but there's always been a thread of pouting darkness running through everything they've done. It's not a massive jump, therefore, to see Matthew Jones doing a play about a controversial comedian who is quizzed by social services about the state of his baby daughter.
Before we hit up Matthew with some questions, here's a trailer:
Is acting a new venture for you, or are you returning to it?
Acting feels much more like my comfort zone than comedy, to be honest! Frisky and Mannish are essentially two actors who can sing and play piano trying to be funny. So it's definitely not a new venture, though I didn't formally train in acting and most of my career has been in cabaret and comedy. I don't know what I am, really! It's all the same at the end of the day, right? Just a professional attention-seeker.
The term 'social workers' jumps out of the press release. What's the darkest place the jokes go?
The play essentially asks 'How dark is still funny?', and in order to ask that, the jokes go as dark as they can. As a comedian, I believe strongly in the right to make a joke about whatever I find funny, and also in the right of the audience to dislike it. This play, though, puts that belief to the test by questioning why people are laughing and what it means. Something that's funny in abstract is often harrowing in reality, which is why the combination of comedian and social worker is such a brilliant one.
It's a comedy about comedy: are there any harsh lessons for comedians to take from the play?
The comedian in our play is by no means representative of your average stand-up (although I have based some things on people I know from the circuit!) He's a very unusual character with a literally unbelievable past. I don't think anyone comes out of this play unscathed - it's an uncompromising piece! But comedians might find it interesting to see to what extent they side with the main character when he defends his 'comedy'. They might consider him the hero of the piece, whereas a social worker might see him as a villain. If only it were that easy...
Punch will be at the Underbelly Cowgate from 2-26 August at 3.40pm; get tickets at the Ed Fringe site here and visit Punch's site here.
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