Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2019 
"We both loved music and drama and stuff at school, but neither of us were kid performers who would try and sing for our parents’ mates when they came over or anything like that."
Assembly George Square Gardens - Piccolo​  
Till 25 Aug | 18:00 | TICKETS
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In January, musical comedy sisters Flo & Joan watched the Bros documentary and saw a glimpse into their future; a lot of dog portraits and male pattern baldness. Anyway, following a sell-out run in 2018, they have a new hour of their dark and waggish songs to parade about the place.

Hello Flo & Joan many thanks for talking to TNC, how are you doing?

We are doing very well, thank you for asking. You’ve been raised well.

What does it mean to you to be bringing Before The Screaming Starts to Edinburgh Fringe?

It means we didn’t crash and burn last year, so we are very happy to be able to return and hope that people are pleased to see us too. 

Are there any nerves ahead of the festival?

Of course. Everyone spends a lot of time writing and assembling our shows, hoping audiences will enjoy them. It’s like when you have kids and you look after them and love them as babies, and eventually you have to send them off to school, and even though you know you did your best raising them, you’re scared nobody will like them and your kid will be the unnervingly quiet one or the smelly one or the one that rubs itself on the story rug whilst making eye contact with you. We don’t want our show to be the staring rubs itself show this year or any year. 

You had a sell-out run last year, what was it like to see ‘SOLD OUT’ next to your show?

It was cool. We came up to fringe years ago before we ever started performing, and you’d see people’s massive posters everywhere and their names on the ’Sold Out’ board and it seemed like a really exciting thing to have. So when we had big posters and ‘Sold Out’ next to our own last year with our third show, it was fucking cool, and unexpected. We nerded out. 

After the huge success of last year does that add any extra pressure on you?

Yes. But only from us, so we’re trying to stay chill and just give the show a good old go and not let ourselves feel it too much.

What was your first fringe experience like?

Our first year performing was amazing, we were so excited. Our keyboard got lost somewhere on the flight over, then when we finally reunited with it the plug blew out on the wall in our venue and we were running around the city trying to find a replacement for our show that night. We didn’t really know what we were doing, but we were excited to see if anyone would come, least of all enjoy it. It turns out some people did, and the rest of our run was awesome. We came to fringe once before that as punters and as soon as we stepped out of Waverley Station a seagull laid a massive turd in the middle of our map. 

What was the strangest & funniest review you’ve ever gotten?

With female performers, lots of reviewers feel like they have to comment on your appearance for no warranted or justifiable reason and that seems strange to us. We get a lot of ‘Nicola has brown hair and is short and Rosie plays the percussion.’ But actually just mentioning the songs is great, ta. 

"We also touch on things including, but not limited to confidence, knowledge, anti-vaxxers, leaving parties that you don’t want to be at."

When you’re at the fringe are you able to relax and enjoy the festival and take in other shows?

We try to. This year we’re living with our best friends the Lusty Mannequins, who are a sketch quartet from Canada doing their first Edinburgh show (Uncommonwealth, go see it, they’re phenom) and we don’t get to see them all too often, so a lot of time will be spent relaxing and hanging with them, introducing them to Naked Attraction and snacking. But seeing shows is our favourite part of the festival. Why would you come to the biggest arts festival in the world and not watch any shows? We had no idea how much we loved clown until we took a punt on a show a few years ago. Now it’s the first thing we seek out and take our friends to when they visit. They hate us.

Can you tell me a little bit about Before The Screaming Starts, what can we expect?

It is a completely brand new show, as we write every year. It’s an hour of mostly songs in a variety of genres with a wee bit of chat. And this year we’ve upped the ante with a drum kit and a bit of a smoke machine and some fancy lighting and things.* And we’re performing in the Piccolo tent, which is a beautiful circus tent-esque venue that we plan to patronise with our dicking about. 

*We can’t guarantee these things will still be in the show come August; depends if we can definitely assure that they’ll be funny and worth lugging around Edinburgh for a month. But that’s the plan.

What was the inspiration behind your new show?

We generally write songs based on encounters and experiences we’ve had throughout the year, for example when we both had over-emotional situations with parcel deliveries, that became fodder. We also touch on things including, but not limited to confidence, knowledge, anti-vaxxers, leaving parties that you don’t want to be at. That sort of stuff. More broadly we watched the Bros documentary, After the Screaming Stops, at the beginning of this year and saw a tiny glimpse into our future, being sibling performers ourselves. So that prompted us to take a look at our relationship and the preventative steps we should be taking to not go the same way as Bros because there have been some warning signals. 

Do you have a favourite song you’ve written and like to perform?

Lady in the Woods’ was a song in our second show and she’s stuck around ever since. It’s a real test of people’s patience (some may say we edge towards taking liberties) so when an audience comes along for the ride it’s very very fun to perform. Sadly she will not be making an appearance in this year’s show. Sorry about it. 

Have you always had a passion for performing?

We both loved music and drama and stuff at school, but neither of us were kid performers who would try and sing for our parents’ mates when they came over or anything like that. I, Nicola, a less than natural performer I'm certainly surprised at this turn of events. But Rosie once played Lady Macbeth in Macbeth the Musical, so hers is a more logical progression.

How much has your style and approach to your work changed since you started?

I mean we both used to work full time at different hours of the day, so we’d snatch time to power write at midnight every so often, but now we are more structured and tend to keep as much of it in the daytime as possible. When we first started we wrote what we wanted to write and hoped that people would come along for the ride. If they weren’t into it we were happy for them to drop and roll out of the van. Now we are slightly more considerate of our audience…slightly. We probably write more interesting songs now and go a bit more wackadoo to stop people predicting where we’re off to with them, but ultimately we still look for inspiration in the same places, and the process is the same. The biggest difference is that we eat more snacks than we used to and Rosie used to have a fringe, which has probably affected us all along the way.

What advice could you offer anyone making their Fringe debut this year?

Take off the pressure and go easy on yourself. You don't have just one year to 'get it right' because there is no way to 'get it right'. If you’re bogged down worrying about audience numbers or reviews or anything like that you’ll have a shit time and it’s such a cool festival to be in it’s a waste to not enjoy at least some of it. And go and see other people’s shows, as many as you are able to. Watch something or someone you’ve never seen before, who doesn’t do what you do or think how you think. And be a good person to the people you are working with and also everyone in general. Don’t be a prick.

And finally, what do you want your audiences to take away from Before The Screaming Starts?

Any rubbish they have brought into the Piccolo tent with them, to be recycled or disposed of in the appropriate waste bins thank you.

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