Comedy and feature journalism have a lot in common. Both can be a hit or a miss, require forward planning as well as a clear sense of focus – but sometimes you just have to wing it. On the night of the 29th April, I arrived at the Antics Jokeshow, a Bristol-based monthly comedy show hosted by Up The Antics, nervous not only for my impending return to stand-up, but also interviewing Jollyboat, the headliner for the evening.
I had the perfect interview plan, dripping with professionalism and journalistic integrity. Sadly (for me), the show became crowded very quickly. Consequently there was only one spot quiet enough to conduct the interview: the hallway to the bathroom… The bathroom of a vegan café.
Safe to say, I was embarrassed by this, agonising about how unorganised I seemed to the guys at Jollyboat. Very fortunately, Jollyboat are some of the most laid-back guys you will ever hope to meet, and one of the most talented musical comedy acts you will ever see.
When I caught up with brothers Ed and Tommy, they had just come off a long series of gigs, including performances at Bristol Anime Con and the Jokeshow on the same day. Their schedule being as busy as it is, I wouldn’t have been surprised if they were more tired than they seemed but, just like their set, they were witty, engaging and their energy was infectious.
Despite interruptions from people crossing our bathroom-hallway-interview-space, Jollyboat explained their influences and who they are, described amazingly by Ed as a “rock star comedy pirate nerd songs” act.
Further talk about travelling across the country (and world) with their act, Jollyboat note how important it is that they are close, given the sheer volume of travelling they have to do together. And this is evident in their work on the stage. Whether it’s performing a series of pirate-based pop songs or a ballad of the failed dating endeavours of Batman, Jollyboat riff off each other so well, which only makes their set that much more fun.
Indeed Tommy made an interesting note in that Jollyboat are now one of the few working double acts in the UK. This adds a certain specialness to their performance, and a small nostalgic charm for beloved double acts of yesteryear.
As they passionately sing and dance across the stage, they have certainly cemented themselves as one of the top acts in the UK scene and beyond. Their commitment to putting on a good show is also revealed when both talked about doing difficult gigs, particularly festivals.
One sound bit of advice Jollyboat gave was to always act like your performance is the best gig happening, and to ignore potential individuals who are bringing down the gig for everyone else. Any performer will tell you that it’s hard to focus when you notice someone who is not enjoying a gig. Suddenly, even one apathetic face in a sea of smiles is all you can focus on, and it is one of the biggest confidence knocks a performer can get.
So not only is it refreshing to hear that bigger acts like Jollyboat still wonder how to tackle situations like that, but it shows the tenacity of them to carry on and make sure everyone has a good time. Though it’s not hard to have a good time at a Jollyboat gig, whether it be singing along, clapping along or just laughing along, their interaction with the audience is fantastic, to the point where it feels like a unique show every time.
Having a wide variety of songs in their arsenal, Jollyboat talked about anyone who wants to get into music must write, then re-write and so on before getting their songs just right. Having started with only four songs at the beginning of their act, they have since tirelessly re-worked and re-purposed their work, something which they’ve said being a double act also helps with.
One of the biggest appeals of Jollyboat is the variety of their act. Whether it be gross-out humour regarding Disney princesses or a parodical recital of how to get famous on The X Factor, they appeal to all aspects of humour, and it is clear to see they have put a lot of time and effort into all their songs.
As they themselves stated, they appeal to “nerd humour”. Being my style of comedy as well, it is not as niche as you might assume. In fact, it could be argued that nerd humour is most of the inclusive parts of comedy you’ll find.
There are so many things you can be nerdy about. Whether it’s video games, superhero movies, wrestling, Disney, books, musical theatre, comedy, television – if you are passionate about something, odds are you will meet people who are so equally and are bound to have a knowledge about at least a couple of those interests.
And with that sense of community comes opportunity to create comedy and humour.
That is the key appeal of Jollyboat in whatever they sing about, you can either relate, learn, or laugh about it and it doesn’t ever feel vicious or mean-spirited. Comedy is meant to a fun – a jolly, if you will (I’m so sorry), experience and Ed and Tommy are performers who can appeal to anyone with their songs and quips, making sure that everyone is having a good time.
If you enjoy nerdy comedy about a whole range of topics, see Jollyboat. If you like musical comedy and catchy as hell songs, see Jollyboat. In short, go see Jollyboat, you won’t regret it.
You can follow Jollyboat on Facebook here.
P.S. Stay tuned for an amazing outtake video from our interview!