How would you describe your comedy style?
Rory: Funny, hopefully – I think obviously with comedy it’s necessary to make people laugh but that can be the hardest part about it. I think Tim maybe worries about choosing a specific style of comedy.
Tim: Yeah, that is true but I think you just naturally fall into a style, for instance we are quite imitative of the Peep Show.
Rory: Yeah, but we like to think that our style is similar to that of a sketch show which has socially related ideas and the premise at the heart of them is that the dialogue often reflects things which are more sitcom like. If we’re not careful though Tim does slip into a Ricky Gervais-style comedy.
Who are your greatest comedy influences?
Tim: I think we’d both agree that it is Peep Show, because it is very funny without obviously being a joke which means you can just have conversations where you are talking in the Peep Show style and it just seems very natural.
Rory: This has influenced us a lot because it became so clear that some people think of comedy as being picaresque and needing big gags or big jokes, and everything needs to be very obvious but with Peep Show everything has to be guessed and worked out. I guess that is what we are trying to do and take on a similar and new medium.
Tim: That’s probably why we are so stressed! Peep Show style sketches have never really been done, maybe that’s a good thing though, and I guess we’ll find out on Sunday. We like to include the crazy, slightly maniac style characters you find in Alan Partridge but we don’t have a great deal of heritage besides Mitchell and Webb and the Big Train comedy show. It’s always good to merge different styles, but hopefully not in a jarring way.
How long have you been in comedy, and what has been the highlight of your comedy career?
Rory: I’ve been in comedy for twenty years, ever since I was born my life has been one long joke. I think I take examples from my life and use them for material to a certain extent. As for the highlight of my comedy career, I’d have to say it was supporting Russell Howard in June 2010 at the Wheatsheaf pub in Oxford. It was fun, I met him and he was great but a lot more laddish than I had expected. He also was shorter than I expected (no jokes about my height, I am taller than average).
Tim: I’ve only been in comedy for a very brief time because I am still quite young compared to other stand up comedians. In fact, I was a bit pushed into it by Rory. I think Rory maybe sees me as a teenage prodigy, but seeing as I was always comfortable being funny solely in my own home, I never thought I’d take it out of my room. I think it’s a bit early on to say a specific highlight of my career too.
So you’re having a show on Sunday 6th March at the Wheatsheaf pub. Can you tell me a bit about it and what we can expect from it?
Rory: We’re going to be showing an hour long sketch show of material, and we’ll be putting it on with a few friends. We’ve made sure these friends will be good enough for the audience though by vigorous training, and rehearsals. They have written some sketches, and they will be acting in some of ours. The running theme of the show will be the dynamic between Tim and myself, but it’ll have some old sketches mixed with a lot of new things as well which will be exciting.
Tim: We have tried to go for something different from our radio show, and make a distinction between us on the radio and us in a comedy show. We have spent hours writing, editing, cutting things out for Sunday, but the radio show is completely spontaneous. It’ll be a lot more structured and a lot more planned, meaning less should go wrong hopefully…
Do you think that you have been supported and influenced by your family and friends?
Tim: I think I was a very odd and angry child, who was obsessed with computer games and football replica shorts and as a way of dealing with this I thought I should try comedy – try and make my mum laugh. It was sometimes hard to test out jokes without her getting angry though.
Rory: For me, my dad was a big influence. He often tried to be funny, and recently my sister told me that he gets angry when I make a funnier joke than him, and he can’t respond. Maybe as a child I was kind of under stimulated by my parents and this made me use my imagination more, and then I used this for comedy.
What do you think is the best joke you have ever heard or written?
Tim: That’s a hard question because we don’t go for the obvious one-liner jokes, we like ones which make you think. I came up with one the other which was a pun on the words “rapport”, “bonhomie” and “bon ami”, but I am not sure how well it went down.
What advice would you give about someone who wants to become a stand up comedian at Oxford University?
Rory: I think it’s really important to be reasonable and prepared for what can happen in this business. It is already bloated but there is obviously a lot of potential out there. If you think you are funny then start writing, and if you can write 6 minutes worth of stand up material then write and sit down and practise in the mirror.
Tim: Definitely, just go to an open mic night in Oxford and see how the audience reacts to it. You should try and start to email people and try to contact as many people as you can about it.
What are your plans for the near future?
Tim: Well apart from the show on Sunday, we’re not sure. We have a number of short film ideas, and are considering directing plays and producing more sketch shows. Our new idea for a film is one in which two poets go around to open mic nights in Oxford and read awful poetry and see how the audience to react to it.
Rory: My dad has written a play, so that would be fun to direct. But most importantly, I would like to think that by setting up this show, we will be able to open up sketch comedy to more people and if people write things, we can provide an outlet for them. We’d like to create a system where people send their ideas in and contribute to the show and then can come and watch it. It’s kind of like a comedy franchise which would create a tradition. That would be our ultimate aim.
Rory and Tim Make Some Friends will be on at The Wheatsheaf on Sunday 6th March, 7.30pm, £3 entry.