Edinburgh Fringe 2022
Multi award-winning musical comedy duo Flo & Joan are climbing out of their pits, armed with a piano and percussion section to bring you a brand new show of their critically acclaimed songs and comedy.
Hi Flo & Joan, thanks for talking to The New Current, how have you been keeping?
Hello. We are well. Thank you for asking. We hope/assume you are too?
How does it feel to be heading back to the Fringe?
It feels like how we imagined Delores von Cartier felt when she returned to her casino in Reno to resume lounge singing, having spent weeks, months and years stuck inside a Nunnery.
Do you remember what your first Fringe was like and what makes the festival so special?
Our first Fringe was one of our favourites. We had never performed in the UK before and flew over from Toronto where we were living, with about three previews of a show under our belt, having started trying comedy the year before. We were very, very green, which honestly we think was a good thing. Our keyboard got lost by the airport, one of us had a UTI for the first two weeks, and neither of us knew how to work the sound desk in our venue. The first few shows were…interesting.
Can you tell me about Sweet Release, what was the inspiration behind this show?
It wasn’t so much as there was inspiration behind the show. We tend to write the songs and stand up that we’re inspired by as we live our lives, (this time of course during the pandemic) and as we started to assemble it little threads and themes and ideas presented themselves without us consciously planning it. Our shared damages and worries materialised right before our eyes and now they are a show.
What are the biggest challenges you face when creating a show like this?
Our challenge for the Edinburgh show has been shrinking it down to an hour. We’ve been touring Sweet Release since February, and it’s a 90 minute show, so we’ve had to kill some babies to get it into the 60 minute sweet spot for Edinburgh and that hurt.
What has been your most memorable experience on stage?
We played a show in Dublin this year, right at the end of our tour, and as we walked out the audience went mad. In a good way. They were at 1000% the whole night and made it such a great gig. There were even people dancing. Yes. Dancing to musical comedy. Who knew that was possible? Our parents happened to be there that night too, and it was a fun way to go, ‘look, we know you worry, and you think this all might be your fault, but when it’s good it feels like this, and that is also your fault’. Also on another tour show this year the star of the night became a man in the front row who could do a pretty solid impression of a pigeon. We really stretch the boundaries of the world ‘memorable’.
When a show is running do you allow yourself much flexibility with your material or do you prefer to stick to what you’ve planned?
We’ve been doing the show since February now, so it’s pretty solid. But our songs are so air tight that we like to leave ourselves little pockets in the show to relax and have a play so we don’t look like two psychotic robots that blast lyrics at the audience then leave the stage. It allows the audience to see us as humans, and for us to remember we’re also humans.
"When we started we were both working lots of other jobs, so we'd have to write at midnight when we were both home at the same time, and we were gigging a lot less."
How important is the creative collaborative nature of comedy for you both when you’re planning and creative shows like Sweet Release?
It’s so important. Obviously how we work together as a duo is crucial. But this year we’ve worked with so many other people to get the show where we want it. Tom Parry directed us and pulled things out of us we would have never seen, helped us with structure, and told us something wasn’t working when we were clinging on to it. Our tour manager Maia lighting designed the show with us. We worked with music producer Harrison on some of the music and tracks we use. Highly recommend collaborating with excellent people. 10/10. Would collaborate again.
Have you always had a passion for comedy?
No. But we’ve always had a love and appreciation of it.
Has your style and the approach to your work changed much since you started out?
In terms of our approach, it has changed a lot. When we started we were both working lots of other jobs, so we’d have to write at midnight when we were both home at the same time, and we were gigging a lot less. We didn’t have the time to sit and overthink every single syllable and what rhymes with sausage (not a lot), so we were maybe slightly more relaxed if anything. Now we have the luxury, but maybe even the hindrance of having more time, because Flo & Joan is our full time job, so yes we can put more detailed thought into things, but that leads to overthinking and paranoia and eventually breakdowns, but also slightly tighter songs? Who knows which approach was better for us really. In terms of style, I think our songs have evolved whilst also maintaining the original things that drew people to us, and that made us laugh in the beginning. As for actual style, we probably think we’ve upped our game, but I’m sure people would still mistake us for a pile of dirty laundry in any era.
Do you have any advice, tips or suggestions you would offer anyone making their debut this Fringe?
And finally, what do you want your fringe audiences to take away from Sweet Release?
We hope they laugh, then tell someone else they laughed, then they come, and they laugh, etc. etc. etc.