Transcript of FAH Interview: May 13, 2021 (via Zoom / split screen)
There were points when the lads talked all at once and I tried to note when this happens. There are also times when they talk, listen to one another, and then all talk. I use a lot of ellipses [. . .] to denote this in the transcript of the interview. I tried to capture the way they often interrupted each other, talked over each other, or talked at the same time. Sometimes I also talked at the same time as they did and I couldn’t always hear what they were saying. Again, I tried to show this. Also, often FAH talk fast and leave out words in their responses so that they can get their points across. If there was something that I absolutely could not hear at all, I write “unintelligible.” Any fahn who thinks they can make out what the lads are saying at these points in the interview is welcome to write to me and let me know and I’ll amend the transcript.
This is an interactive transcript in that I have inserted links so that readers may have a better sense of what FAH and I are discussing in the interview.
In the first few seconds, FAH couldn’t hear me at all [technical difficulties :)]
Hog: [chewing] hold on one second.
Foil: Did we hear?
AcademicFahn (AF): Hello.
FAH [all together because they can suddenly hear me]: Heeeeyyyy!!
Arms: How’s it going?
Hog: How are you doing?
AF: Okay! I’m, of course, incredibly nervous!
Arms: [laughs] don’t be!
AF: Meeting famous FAH!
Foil: Famous FAH? Yeah, no, we’re meeting you probably for the first time. Hello, how are ya? Thanks for all the incredible work you’ve been doing.
AF: Oh, thanks, no, it’s great. I love it. I’m going to turn my phone off because god knows. Who knows who’s going to call me in the middle of this thing? And I’ve been sitting here since 10:30am [laughs]
Foil: Oh, no, I’m sorry, yeah, we had a last-minute sketch read through there, for tomorrow.
AF: That’s okay. So, I really appreciate you doing this. When I first approached Foil about it, I thought I would do it as my usual, uh, just send questions and Foil said, “oh, yeah, we’ll do a live interview, sure, no problem!” [laughs]
Foil: Oh, did I misunderstand you? You, you were just going that way, were you?
AF: Yeah, but that’s fine! It’s great! It totally works for me. So, I put together . . .
Hog: [unintelligible, because Hog and I are talking at the same time] this thing then, this is our fault?
AF: [laughing a lot – mostly at what Hog said previously]
Hog: Right, cool! [unintelligible]
AF: Well, I was surprised but that’s fine because I’m utterly thrilled.
AF: There’s only two other fahns who know anything about this because I kept it all on the down low.
Arms: Ah, very good.
Foil: We can have them killed if you need to.
Hog: Would you like a Bean Boozled?
AF: Oh, God, no [laughs].
Hog: Good answer.
AF: I’m really excited because we don’t have to go through how’d you get your names or when’d you meet or all of that stuff.
Arms: Yeah. That’s good.
AF: So, I have, I have 15 questions for you, which we may not even get through and there is no theme, um, and it’s just stuff that I’m really interested in and I thought I would ask.
Hog: Fire away
Arms: Looking forward to it.
Foil: Good. We haven’t done an interview in like two years.
Arms: We definitely haven’t had such a knowledgeable interviewer before, usually they get everything wrong.
Foil: No [he is responding to Arms’s comment about not having such a knowledgeable interviewer.]
Hog: Yeah, we a . . . this is an exam we are going to fail.
Arms: You might know more about us than we know about ourselves. We’ll see.
Hog: Yeah, possibly.
AF: Okay, so, um, my first question is about growing up in Dublin and I’m curious whether you were influenced by the Dublin theatre scene and whether you participated in any kind of theatre work before you went to UCD? Even like school plays or anything that would’ve influenced you growing up?
Arms: You guys probably more so than me.
Hog. Hold my beer.
Foil: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Arms: Hog is a . . . you answer that question.
Hog: I was a trained actor! Yes, of course I’ll answer the question! [he says this in a posh, English voice.] Yeah, I did acting outside of school from when I was 8 years of age, I think, and, um, and, eh, learnt all, uh, my bits and pieces there. And, uh, I thoroughly enjoyed it and found I was half decent at it so I was, like, yeah, this is great, and I ended up, uh, they happened to be an agency, like a child actor agency, as well as a, um, drama school and then, eh, they sent me to, eh, I got my first movie when I like eleven or something like that and I was, like, yeah this is great, who’s gonna give me, who wants a real job? And, um, yeah, ‘cause like, when, when you present an eleven-year-old with like, you know, with like, um, you know, cash monies and a cool job and go this is possible, how else are they going to go back to like going, oh, yeah, I’m going to go . . . normal office job, that sounds like great craic. No, no it’s not.
Foil: Cash [he whispers this word as Hog is talking.]
Arms: Get a normal . . . job [he is echoing Hog’s sentiment while Hog is talking.] Yeah.
Foil: So, his education stopped at eleven.
Hog: I don’t need [unintelligible] education.
Arms: You were doing, eh, did you, did you do this whole thing? You did plays after your school, I mean in the evening? Did you do professional productions [looking at Foil.] I know you did [looking at Hog.]
Hog: Of course, I did.
Foil: No, it was all amateur for me. Then just the school play and well then just the Gaitey School of Acting, whatever, from twelve ‘til whatever.
Arms: Ah. But you know when you see like you go to the theatre in the evening and you see like, then there’s a kid in the play and you’re, like, how’s a kid in the play? That’s so weird.
Hog: Oh, yeah.
Arms: Well, you were that kid, then?
Hog: Yeah, yeah, I was that kid, yeah, yeah. The first one was in the Peacock [theatre]. . . and I was like 8.
Arms: And you were doing your homework, you’re doing your homework like there, before the play started and stuff.
Hog: Yeah, yeah probably, yes! Yeah, yeah.
Hog: Or I’d miss out on a ton of school, having said that Fingo! Gladly!
Foil: Yeah, yeah.
Hog: Absolutely gladly!
Foil: That wasn’t a joke about it?
Hog: Just because I’m a dumbass. Fingo knows I’m a dumbass and that’s why he said that.
Foil: I remember in the Gaitey there were kids doing homework and stuff.
Hog: Yeah, I know. I didn’t. I think my Ma and Da let me get away to, probably for the most part, they were like . . .
Foil: Did they take a cut?
Hog: Em, em,
Foil: Were they like, you don’t have to do your homework, you can go do the play in the Peacock with the big famous thing, but.
Hog: But I think it paid off, it was worth it.
Arms: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Did they take the fifteen percent, like?
Foil: Did they take, like, fifteen or fifty?
Hog: Um, no, they left me with the large part of the thing . . .
Foil: Did you . . . once you started making money in, eh, acting . . .
Hog: A long time ago . . .
Arms: Who’s the interviewer here?
Foil: Who paid for your acting classes?
AF: [laughs] Thanks Arms!
Hog: I told you this before, okay! Tell us again! [looking at Foil]
[Alarm goes off]
Foil: That was the alarm to do this interview at the original scheduled time of 5:00 o’clock.
AF: At the original time . . . but I made it, we made it earlier for you, Arms.
Arms: Oh, thank you.
Arms: I hope that answers your question. I think that the lads have had a rich, or much richer acting youth than I did. I just did, I didn’t want to answer it first but mine’s the least impressive. I just did school musicals, but I was in an all-boys school and the girl’s school was down the road and that was how you met girls, great fun, loved it.
AF: Well, that was my second question was for Hog too about his movie, film career because I’ve seen Lost and Found, which I really like . . .
Hog: Oh, yeah. Yeah, yeah, that’s one of the okay ones, I think.
Arms: His former career . . .
AF: And I guess, well . . .
Arms: He’s washed up . . .
Hog: Yeah, I’m washed up.
AF: Well, I just wondered why you hadn’t done more . . .
Foil: It’s such a character assassination . . .
AF: I wondered why you hadn’t done more film? Or why you hadn’t pursued film more or maybe even done it at . . .
Hog: Eh, it all dried up, well it like, eh, when I hit eighteen it, um, um, I was no longer a child actor and then, eh, my niche kind of disappeared and, uh, em, my agent didn’t, is not, was not an adult agent and then I got maybe screwed over in the change over there. I got mislead maybe a little bit in terms of where I, what I should have done.
Foil: You went to college, as well, didn’t you, which kind of messed it up . . .
Hog: Yeah, I went to four years of college, yes!
Arms: Four years in engineering.
Hog: Yes, and I was told erroneously that you can’t have an acting agent when you’re in college, which was absolute horseshit! And they were trying to wash their hands of me possibly, who knows? Either way, um, I would’ve but it didn’t happen. ‘Cause it wasn’t available to me.
Foil: Yeah, if you had an agent that brought you from the age of eleven to the age of now, you probably . . .
Arms: But you’d be too famous for us now and you’d be doing loads of other stuff . . .
Hog: Yeah, yeah.
Arms: And you’d be in a duo and you’d be arguing all the time.
Foil: Yeah, but the money would be better. So, I don’t know it’s interesting . . .
AF: Okay, so . . .
Hog: And then when I came out of college it was four years later, I had to start all over again from the start and everyone had forgotten about me and that was it.
AF: So, my other question is, um, . . . how do you think your, are you really no message comedy now?
FAH: a general, “oh” from the lads about this question.
AF: Do you think you’re no message comedy? You know I wrote that thing on the blog about how you were considering yourselves to be no message comedy and that’s something that Hog said in that interview that you did in 2019 just before the pandemic hit.
Hog: Quite possibly, yep.
Foil: Hmmm, yep.
Hog: As much as possible . . .
AF: And I’m just curious about that . . .
Foil: After this morning’s sketch [Why You’ll Never Buy a House in Ireland], which is probably, and we knew it coming into it the most kind of, um, pointed sketch we’ve ever done, certainly online. The live show though is probably still just silly stuff.
Arms: Yeah, maybe that’s kind of what we’re talking about because even like when you think about even kind of more fun sketches like, you know, like Influencer Dad, or stuff like that there is a message behind that. You know, I mean we’re not trying, I guess the point is that we’re not trying to convey a message.
[all three lads are talking at the same time in the segment below]
Hog: There’s no . . . there’s certainly no agenda. We definitely stay away from any political kind of thing.
Arms: You know, there’s . . . maybe . . . yeah, I guess so apart from . . . yeah, I guess so . . . although there’s definitely Brexit sketches as well and that where . . .
Foil: Although this morning’s could probably be argued . . .
Hog: But it is, it is . . . sorry to cut off ye [talking to Arms.] Is, is that, em, so much political or rather have we picked a really easy target that kind of . . . that everyone agrees on . . .
Hog: Yeah, bullies that everybody agrees on, so it’s not so much, we’re not blaming one particular party or any particular party. We’re not even concerned with that, we’re just going, we’re just picking the easy target of the bully and then making fun of them? I don’t know . . .
Arms: I think maybe the political, political is maybe the wrong term or maybe like it would be societal or something else . . . you know, I don’t know . . .
Hog: Yes, yes . . . and that there is . . .
Arms: Well, yeah, there definitely is, I mean . . .
Hog: Certainly, something more than [unintelligible] . . .
[they all stop talking at once here.]
AF: Well, what about, what about the U.S. Immigration sketch, I mean, that’s pretty political, don’t you think?
Hog: Oh, yeah.
Foil: I suppose it is, it’s also completely ridiculous.
Arms: Yeah . . . I guess there’s maybe kind of enough . . . yeah, maybe there’s enough silly in there that it’s not, it doesn’t come across that way . . . I don’t know.
Hog: Em, it might to other people . . .
Arms: Yeah, that’s true, yeah . . .
Hog: You know what I mean, I guess one person’s really silly and oh that’s a stereotype isn’t it? Is another person’s, yeah, you’re right! They are like that!
Arms: Well, I mean, I guess you know, welcome to America, the handover of the weapon like, it’s hard to see it as anything other than taking the piss out of the lax gun laws that are in the States.
Hog: Yeah, yeah . . .
Arms: But . . . you kind of . . .
Foil: But we’re not saying that’s a good or a bad thing . . . the guys were excited to get the gun, they were happy as Irish people to receive a gun.
Arms: I guess . . . [responding to Foil saying it’s not a good or a bad thing.] It doesn’t land hard because it’s so farcical that would happen and the lads are so excited that it lands as a joke.
Hog: Yeah, yeah . . . but I think we still are maintaining our aloofness of saying that one or the other were bad.
Arms: Maybe . . . it’s probably, it’s probably . . . boils down to intent. And like, you know the intent of the U.S. Immigration sketch was to, um, as it were to draw people, well you wrote it, most of it anyway [he directs this comment to Foil], is to draw people into feeling that it was going to be about a more serious issue but all the answers are really silly. You know, so the intent was there to kind of get people into a space where they were like, what’s going to say here? Oh, the most dominant race, you know, oh my god, I can’t believe they’re talking about race, hundred-meter butterfly, you know which Michael Phelps was cleaning up at the time, you know? It’s like, ah, that’s really stupid and that’s really funny! And then . . . .
Foil: Yeah, yeah [responding to Arms that he, Foil, wrote the sketch.] Yeah, yeah, [responding to Arms’s last statement about things in the sketch being stupid and funny.] It’s to play off of the anxiety that Irish people have of doing that test to get into America and, then yeah . . .
Hog: And then the surprise of not dealing with the big issues that were at play at the time.
Arms: Yeah . . .
Foil: We would certainly encourage no, uh people not to take us seriously as, uh, advice on anything political because we really do not have the knowledge.
Arms: And yeah, and also, we’re very, very privileged lives as well, like, you know . . .
Hog: And also, when it comes to our silly stuff, we just want to entertain people, so, uh, if you, if you’re into any political sphere you’re like, uh, you’re polarizing people and distracting them from the funny and making it about something we don’t want it to be about, you know, one way or the other. And as soon as you do, do that people, um, uh, people argue and it becomes less funny.
Arms: Yeah, but you also, you also lose your ability to convince and change people’s minds in a more subtle sense like you know, telling people that they shouldn’t believe a certain thing isn’t going to do anything. Like you know, tweeting angrily at someone has never changed anyone’s mind, but if you present a comic situation in a surreal sense it might . . . not that you’re trying to do it, but, if anything’s gonna work, like trying to entertain them and see something from a different . . . through comedy is a lot better than shouting at them.
AF: Yeah. I mean, if people are laughing then they’re more accessible, perhaps, to anything.
Foil: We’re just trying to highlight absurdity sometimes without our point of view being around . . . I suppose like the Northern Ireland sketch we did recently. We would all have our own views on Northern Ireland, but the sketch tries to keep it completely neutral, you know. We like to think that whatever way you think about it that’s sketch is still enjoyable for you.
Hog: The only message I can think of is like you know, of recent is like, ah, um, who can be deemed an annoying person. We’ve done a bit of that recently. And you know, yes, there’s a writer’s message there that we’re saying, you know, whoever it is, is going like, yeah, people who snore on the bus (unintelligible), that’s annoying, that should stop!
Arms: Yeah, yeah.
Hog: Or like, um, yeah.
AF: But what about the, what about Mother Earth or um, the earth . . . climate change stuff?
Hog: Yeah, you’d be right . . . I think we’ve been really cowardly and happy days and like we’ve taken [unintelligible] really easy . . . that like, well, I guess, not everybody agrees, so . . .
Arms: I don’t think so! I think it’s easy if you’re . . . you know, you might think it’s easy, but to loads of people they might think the opposite way. And you know, even with our vaccination song, you know, and the vaccine sketch, a lot of, well not a lot of push back, we never really have much push back on our channel, to be fair but, like, more significant amount of it than usual, you know. Like a popular, like a safer, if you like, stance might be to say, hi the vaccines here and you know it’s your choice if you don’t want to take it or you don’t and we respect your decision and everyone should be listened to. Like that’s the argument if you want to try and be everyone’s friend.
Foil: Uh huh [responding to Arms and his point of view about being everyone’s friend with vaccinations.]
Hog: Yeah, yeah, we didn’t take it that way.
Arms: No, because we do think that, you know, anti-vaccine is a negative influence on . . . certainly I do, anyway. I know you do [looking at Foil.]
Hog: Yeah, we certainly do. And if you didn’t like the video . . . yeah, yeah, and we don’t care, see ya later.
AF: Well, so here’s switching gears completely and asking you about what I would consider a kind of bizarre sketch, which is Baby Head Clamp. [Arms laughs out loud] Who came up with that and why and what was the inspiration?
Foil: Gosh, that was probably over ten years ago that we wrote that.
Hog: Yeah, and it was originally baby head vice. I think it was softened to clamp [Arms laughs out loud at this] because it was slightly more sanitary.
Foil: I can’t remember.
Hog: I, I, I heard something about this recently . . .
Arms: It’s not my sketch anyway, I know that much.
Hog: Recently enough, where they were talking about . . .
Arms: I think it’s your sketch, Flango.
Hog: No, no, do you know what, it actually, it came up in conversation, well, in the Joanne McNally podcast there, I was listening to the other week, and they were talking about some, the way the baby’s head is like, uh, is very malleable at the beginning . . .
Arms: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah . . .
Hog: And it’s for a reason, so it doesn’t something, something, something needs to shape and then they went to the sketch, unknowing that we had written this, this sketch, they went to oh, so you would be able to shape your head into whatever way you want it to be . . .
Arms: No way.
Arms: Yeah, I think you wrote it, Flango. It wasn’t me anyway, um. But I do remember it being very dark, I think we . . .
Foil: It was a live show sketch.
Arms: Yeah, you guys did it live and . . .
Foil: We did it live.
Arms: We did that kind of, that early, early, we did that kind of faux American, kind of infomercial.
Arms: . . . vibe, that’s what it was, that’s what we were taking the mick out of, that’s what we were watching on TV the whole time, you know like, [infomercial voice] get the penali pen or get gator grip, uh, you know opens all sorts of . . . whatever. That’s what it was, wasn’t it? And there also was a lot of . . .
Hog: That also seems like almost plausible, which I thought was the connection . . .
Arms: Well, there was a big, the whole stem cell thing was really big around then . . .
Foil: That’s what I was wondering did it come from that?
Arms: Designer babies, that was kind of the ethical considerations about experimenting with stem cells would, uh, and DNA and Dolly the sheep and all the other stuff and cloning.
Foil: That could have been where it came from, ‘cause I was thinking that, did I think of that and then go that way, but it certainly wasn’t something we would have sat down and gone, this is crazy, this whole stem cell, designer babies . . .
Arms: Who did the fish face? Wasn’t it . . . you were doing all the different types of face that you could have . . .
Foil: I [unintelligible] fish face . . .
Arms: And then there was all the different, set things that you could put the clamp to, to get. It was so grim and the crunch, oh Jesus Christ.
Foil: Yeah, yeah.
AF: The crunch at the end, it’s pretty, pretty grim.
Arms: He goes oh shite, at the end, oh shite.
Foil: All of our stuff was way darker. We had much darker stuff. It’s hilarious.
AF: So, here’s something lighter then, for Foil, a question for Foil about your guitar playing and your musical education and training. And you know, what kind of training do you have? I’m also am very curious about what guitars you play? And how long you’ve been playing, and whether you ever played with Ham Sandwich?
Foil: Um, so, not much. I did piano for a few years like to grade three, I think, when I was a kid, and then I dropped it. Didn’t, didn’t like it and then I took up guitar when I was fifteen, kinda taught myself and then went to a couple of lessons. Um, I didn’t do much then, eh, I don’t know.
Hog: You played with Led Zeppelin for a while.
Foil: I played with Led Zeppelin for a little bit on song called Stairway to Heaven, ah, that was okay. I would like to go back and change bits of it, but it’s good.
[a classic FAH riff ensues, where they play off each other]
Arms: Don’t tell lies. That’s not true. They’ll print that.
Foil: Yeah, they might.
Arms: You don’t say these things in interviews. That’s lying.
Hog: Sure, it could have been plenty of other [unintelligible] at this stage.
Foil: Could’ve, could’ve done it, could’ve.
Foil: I could’ve. Could’ve.
Hog: Why do you have to be like that?
[and we’re back to the interview]
Foil: Could’ve. No, I just played guitar for a bit then and then since we started doing Foil Arms and Hog, I haven’t really played guitar. I got to play with Ham Sandwich twice though. Once all of us got to play and once I got to play them as well. I was so excited.
Hog: They made me play the triangle. I got the triangle. I started playing the drums thinking I was just annoying people, I think. And then it was like this, oh, how do we tell him, how do we tell him to stop? And then I went, guys, will I just play the triangle? Yeah, that’d be great.
Arms: In fairness it worked really well.
AF: What kind of guitars do you play? Because that one guitar you have, is it electric? Or something, or . . . I don’t . . .
Foil: The small little one?
Foil: The small one is, yeah, semi acoustic so it can be plugged in. That’s the stage guitar, it actually folds open. It’s a Furch guitar. Um, I just leave that one here.
Arms: Firch? You’re a bit heavy on the “s” there. Firch, no? F I R C H?
Foil: Furch. F U R C H.
Arms: F U is it? I thought it was F I R C H? Firch.
Foil: No, it’s not an “I”. I think it’s F U R C H because I have another one at home.
Arms: You’re looking at it more than me, but I didn’t know why you were saying “fursh” a bit heavy on the “sh” there.
Foil: Furch, I think it’s Furch.
Arms: [in a semi-Russian accent] this is a furch.
Foil: Comes from the Czech Republic, I think.
Arms: Shit, are you pronouncing it correctly? We can edit that out.
Foil: I really don’t know, I genuinely don’t know if I’m pronouncing it correctly. F U R C H. We bought it as a travel guitar.
AF: My technology skills are pretty low so I really think it’s gonna make it in.
Foil: Then at home I play an OM sized Firsh or Furch guitar. But I don’t really play, I leave it in the thing, unless we’re doing songs in which case, I take it out, so. I don’t know. I used to just play it all the time for fun and since we, I don’t know.
[Arms looks up at the wall above Hog]
Arms: I looked up there because I thought it would be a really nice idea to have a little guitar holder thing that we could hang them on the wall.
Foil: Oh, all the guitars along the wall?
Arms: Yeah, I just thought it would be cool.
Foil: That would be cool. I have a Stratocaster, which I haven’t played in probably fifteen years that’s sitting in the box. That’s pretty cool, but when do you get the opportunity to play? I used to play in a band when I was, you know, 16. Then you had the fun with all the electric guitars and amps and turning up the noise, but uh . . .
Hog: My band broke my guitar.
Foil: They smashed it?
Hog: They broke it, yeah, for a, for a laugh.
Arms: The day the music died.
Foil: Why would you . . . even when I see professional musicians at gigs. I used to go to a lot of punk rock shows and they’d throw the guitar up in the air and then it would smash down the stage and you’re like, why? Why would you do that?
Arms: I wonder as they slowly go through their career and they manage and they’re less successful, are they smashing less guitars because they can’t have the money to repair them. Definitely
Foil: I hope so. It’s so silly.
AF: So, here’s another question, then, about music for Arms. What’s the highest note you can sing?
Hog: Oh, what a question.
Arms: I don’t know because I don’t know when I’m slipping into falsetto. I’m not, I don’t know when that is when I’m cheating.
Hog: Oh, oh, there’s a, there’s a bar and then, so that would be D. You need to not be singing falsetto before . . .
[Arms starts to experiment with singing in his falsetto range and he hits quite a high note; according to @lpmusicfreak, Arms hits a F#5, which would make him a countertenor, the highest voice among male singers. Then Hog takes a crack at it as well, but can’t quite hit the same note. Hog is a baritone and said so in the outro to Staycation with Your Parents.]
Arms: I think that’s the highest one, but I don’t know . . . I don’t know what I . . . I’m not an expert so I don’t know when . . .
Foil: Could you sing that note in a song?
Arms: [he takes a crack at the high staccato notes from the aria “Queen of the Night” from Mozart’s The Magic Flute] I don’t know, but I don’t know if that is cheating or what. Someone who is more knowledgeable would say, no your highest note is this before you go into falsetto.
Hog: What’s your highest falsetto?
AF: Well, it sounds like you could probably hit a high C.
Arms: Oh, right, okay.
AF: I mean, it really does sound like you could hit a high C, if you’re in good voice you could probably do it and you kind of, you know, it sounds like you’re heading that way.
Arms: Yeah, I’ve heard of the elusive high C, but I, I’ve never known, I’ve never known any way to measure it or anything like that.
AF: So, how do you prepare for your vocal stuff then? Like the wrong song, the wrong lyrics to the right song, whatever it is?
Foil: Right song, wrong lyrics?
AF: Yeah, because I mean, ‘cause that’s a pretty high note that you did in that.
Arms: Which one is that?
AF: [sings the tune of the song to Arms: “In the Jungle, the Mighty Jungle the Lion Sleeps Tonight]
Arms: Oh, yeah, yeah, that is a high note, yeah. [starts to sing the high note from that song, but is interrupted by Hog]
Hog: Okay, here’s Pavarotti, here’s Pavarotti with his, eh, longest high C.
Arms: Wow, holy cow!
[Hog lets Arms and Foil listen – it doesn’t quite pick up on the recording on Zoom]
Arms: Yeah, you see. I have a suspicion that he’s not going falsetto there, that he can just do that. I think there is a reason why it’s called fal-setto, it’s not, it’s cheating. [he tries to hit a high C, like Pavarotti.] That’s what it sounded like there.
Hog: Yeah, it did, yeah.
AF: Yeah, but that sound you produced was really beautiful.
Arms: Oh, thank you.
AF: I mean, you have a gorgeous tenor voice.
Arms: Oh, right thank you very much, yeah.
AF: So, I’m just curious what you all do to warm up or sing these pieces because it’s not so easy to keep singing that, especially if you’re gigging. You know, your voice gets tired after a while, and you know, so I’m curious what you to do prepare for those pieces.
Arms: I don’t do an awful lot. I think Foil, you, is the master of the vocal warm up, no . . .
Foil: I completely, I completely lost my voice, coming, at the end of a tour, going into the start of another tour into Edinburgh. I had no voice whatsoever, so, uh, I then had to scramble to find, um, ways of talking in the show and it was by doing like an hour long vocal warm up, so uh . . .
Arms: [a phone rings] Sorry, excuse me for a second.
Foil: Yeah, yeah, of course [talking to Arms, referencing the phone ringing.] So, I just had to, I’ve been going hard core, well just before, well, all up to the end of touring there because of the pandemic. Oh, I was going crazy with the vocal warm ups, just trying to get through the shows because I couldn’t speak. Yes, other than that we’ve never really done . . . we don’t really take it that seriously, the music, actually.
Hog: [unintelligible] McKenna . . .
AF: So, are you saying that you have absolutely gorgeous voices naturally, because I mean Hog has an incredible voice. You all have good voices and you just don’t warm up at all? You just sing and it just comes out naturally?
Hog: I think, um, if you are singing a lot, eh, which we would be when we’re, um, we be singing and messin’ and when you sing a lot daily you don’t, uh, take as long to warm up, I think. Um, I think that’s true. ‘Cause I know, um, I’ve known singers, like my friend Ciarán, he’d have a good voice and singing, but then he went to sing with our band and he, uh, was like oh, he’s singing bad, he used to be a good singer, I guess because he wasn’t used to it. So, it took him ages to warm up. So, someone who’s doing it, you know, we’re gig twice a week or whatever, when we were gigging, uh, doesn’t need to warm up for as long.
Foil: The approaches are whether that probably, I mean, I do think that everything’s sounding really nice a lot of the time, but there always comedy songs first and foremost so. So, we’re weren’t too worried about them sounding . . .
Hog: Hmmm, yeah [responding to Foil saying they weren’t too worried about them sounding a certain way.]
Foil: That came over time as we did them more and more. But certainly, initially they were just, that wasn’t a huge concern of ours. We were just very lucky that they were working.
Arms: Yeah, possibly.
Foil: I don’t know.
AF: Alright, well, here’s a serious Academic fahn question for you . . .
AF: One of those in-depth things that I come up with, uh, for my blogs . . .
Foil: Oh, yeah.
AF: Um, which Foil said felt strange reading for the first time, but . . .
Foil: Yeah, you’re reading about, like, your group in an academic, very academic way . . .
Arms: Yeah, yeah.
AF: So, I’m curious about your representations of women and the way you portray femininity and how you think about that, how you prepare for it, what you, the way you . . . and not just like pulling from your own life, which maybe you do, but just . . . I’m curious how you think about those characters because one of the things that I noticed . . . because this is what I’ve been doing is studying your work. Um, so Arms has a couple of things that he wears to be markers of femininity and so does Hog, so I’m curious why do you do that, what you’re thinking about, how you’re thinking about portraying women?
Hog: Yeah, good question. Yeah, very good question. I suppose the, eh, I suppose the Anne Flanagan is the most, eh, the most reoccurring female character for me, um, I suppose the, eh, the glasses on the ridge of the nose was initially to hide and change your face as much as possible from being, um, from the masculine face. Do you know what I mean? Uh, is it modeled on our mothers? Kind of, I mean, we ‘spose we kind of, we followed on from the Mrs. Brown’s Boys, kind of archetype of the Irish mammy, I suppose, in a way because we did take, that’s probably, I presume that’s where we got the mole, I assume? I think that the mole was your idea initially Fingo . . . I don’t know if it came from there?
Foil: Probably yeah, probably, it’s just in built.
Hog: Yeah, the wig is similar enough, do you know what I mean, so we’re kind of standing on the shoulders of Brendan O’Carroll, uh, in a way.
Foil: And he got it from Brenda Fricker.
Hog: Yes, yeah, he got it from Brenda Fricker, yeah he was modeled on Brenda Fricker. The archetypal Irish mammy from, um, My Left Foot, um, eh, well we were just talking a bit recently there, it’s eh, it’s easier to portray, uh, a woman, uh, who is older than us either than a woman kind of our age or younger because, em . . .
Foil: We can go extremes . . .
Hog: They’re further away, they’re extreme, they’re more extreme, so . . .
Foil: A very young, like the girl child that you play in the McCormack’s family, you know, she’s like whatever she is, six, seven years old.
Hog: Yeah, like the further away they are . . .
Foil: But trying to re-create a woman around our own age is a . . .
Arms: I’m just trying to think of the women that we’ve played and or the women that I’ve played and, I think there’s kind of like, there’s the Prosecco woman, I guess, who’s kind of drawn a little bit from, drawn a little bit from, from real life.
Hog: Yeah, she be un-age-ish . . .
Arms: And I guess there’s like a . . . to, to me, she’s kind of like the representation of, like you know uh, she’s well educated, um, but, ah, very much living in a dream world, uh, she’s uh, very wealthy, I don’t know, there’s kind of like, she’s like a kind of high status there, maybe, I do add a high status to the women that I play. Now that I’m thinking about it, the Ryanair woman, you know very much in control, the . . .
Hog: Yeah, yeah, very domineering . . .
Foil: The granny . . .
Arms: Yeah, the grandmother is in control, yeah, yeah, like a high status. I don’t know where that comes from but I certainly find it funnier. I find it funny to play a woman in control.
AF: Well, the Chairhead’s sketch is that from my perspective. I mean, that is such a brilliant sketch. It’s one of my absolute favorites and you like this gold bracelet, like I’ve seen you wear them a couple of times, a gold bracelet . . .
Arms: Yeah . . .
AF: Yeah, you know, those kinds of things, which are, because there’s no, I mean part of what some comedians might do which is to go into kind of more “drag” and you don’t do that and one of the things that I noticed especially in something like the Sandcastle sketch, on stage where’s there’s no props and you’re having to present yourself, you know, and a whole entire narrative as if it’s there, so we kind of “believe” just because of the gold bracelet. Or sometime what you’re doing, some of the gestures you do in, um, the Chairhead’s sketch and also like Foil kissing the chair leg . . .
Arms: Oh, yeah, oh yeah . . .
AF: . . . that kind of stuff, so that you get that kind of dynamic and it’s clear. I mean, to me that’s fascinating.
Arms: Yeah, we used to love doing that sketch, I think it definitely worked, it worked really well, we had this show in Edinburgh that we did in this, like, dome, indoor dome and the room was great like, other than the fact that it was a furnace, it was great craic.
Arms: And we had a really off the wall show that year. Probably, it probably is still the best show we’ve written, we didn’t film because we had the most time to spend on it. And I know that we would do those sketches now with far more jokes and interactions and they’d be bigger but certainly, like, each sketch in and of itself was full of possibly more imagination than we would have in our shows now, because we just don’t have the same amount of time to write it, we had nearly a full year. So, um, but the Chairheads worked really well in that kind of grimy environment and there was a few other sketches that did, well. Just the backdrop of this, like, like Fringe dark, grimy, sweaty hot room that you can kind of get away with anything, and yeah . . .
Hog: Hmmm. Yeah, and obviously a lot darker back then as well, so that kind of added a little bit more spice to the whole event.
Arms: Yeah, yeah, no, it was definitely . . . yeah, it made sense. It was just, just for some reason . . . I think, as well we used the chairs that were in the room . . .
Arms: . . . you know so there was a homemade feel to it, so you could go and grab the chair, you know that, they’re all sitting on the same chair and you grab the chair and you put it in front of you, it’s like, oh they’re doing it here, oh, they’re doing it, I mean, it’s not improvised but . . .
Hog: [talking at the exact same time as Arms is saying “it’s not improvised”] they must have come up with it, they must have come up with it in rehearsal . . .
Arms: . . . there’s more of a magic to it because you’re using what’s in the room, whereas, you know, you’re selling bigger theatres, and you bring out the chairs and we’re going to do the Chairhead sketch, and you know like, it just doesn’t seem to land as well, I don’t think.
AF: So, do you think that in those kinds of situations you might play the woman character differently or you would present it differently, if you’re in a different venue or? Because the one that I analyzed was the one about, the one you filmed in the house.
Arms: Oooh, right! Oh, yeah. Ah, okay, yeah.
Foil: Well, I suppose . . .
Arms: I guess we were just imitating the one from the sketch, apart from the live, probably.
Foil: Yeah . . . the best, like, female characters I would say that we’ve played, well I don’t really play them, but you guys have played them, but like they’re really stereotypical, they’re very heightened, so that we can get away with playing them. And then like you said, there’s a few pieces of costumes, like the glasses, the bracelet, the scarf or whatever it is. There’s just a few . . . because the character is so heightened, like we’re clearly not an actual woman . . .
Arms: Hmmm [he’s pondering what Foil is saying about the pieces of costume and not being an actual woman.]
Foil: . . . just those little pieces that you pick, really . . .
Arms: Yeah, you don’t want it to go overboard, you certainly don’t want people to go . . .
Foil: You’re definitely trying to fool me.
Arms: Yeah, you’re trying, you’re trying to be, that’s what? Like, we know that you’re not a woman, so don’t, like, don’t go overboard, like . . . I guess.
Foil: Yeah [he’s responding to Arms saying “that you’re not a woman”.]
Hog: Yeah, but you’re treading a line now between like, you know, you know, so that you had like, em, The Life of Brian, and where like, you know, you know transsexual kind of elements wasn’t around back in The Life of Brian so they put on a shawl, oh a man wearing a shawl . . . the contrast there was very unseen before so we know what’s going on, but now you know, you’re like oh, so is this a transsexual character, no it’s not. We’re just trying to portray a woman as best we can while still being a man and that’s funny right? So, it kind of muddies the water, we kind of have to be . . . keep an eye on it, you know? See what it looks like and . . . yeah . . . yeah.
AF: Okay . . . [laughs because Hog peters out with his sentence.]
Foil: We [unintelligible.]
AF: Well, I . . .
Hog: . . . yeah, it does come into play . . . where you’re like, um, yeah, is this a man in drag or is this a . . . and is that the character? Sometimes you’re like oh . . . you know depending on what sort of weird or mystical situation we’re in, you’re like this character could be, a person in drag or man in drag? No, no, he’s a woman depending on where the script, you know, leads you, so you do have to pay attention to these things and go, oh well the audience might think this or the audience might think that.
Arms: You don’t want people, you don’t want people really noticing it, you want people listening to the jokes.
Hog: Exactly! Yeah . . .
[In the following section Hog speaks at the same time as Foil at several points and it is hard to hear what Hog is saying.]
Foil: Yeah, but that’s why I think we go with the stereotypes whenever we’ve had to play a woman, like a normal woman who’s in the sketch, around our age but doesn’t have any stereotypical thing about her, it’s very hard to portray her because it just looks like us, trying to be an actual woman, woman [Hog and Foil are talking at the same time here!]
Hog: Yeah [speaking at the same time as Foil and agreeing with him about how hard it is to portray women their age.] So, you either got to go all out then [Hog is speaking at the same time as Foil here!] Yeah, if you go all out with makeup and lipstick and everything then now what are we saying?
Arms: Well, yeah, I guess that there has to be a point, which is why very often when we’re doing dating scenes, we might just use two guys because we’re not trying to make a point. You’re almost making a point now if you dress somebody in female clothes and go, hey look it’s a, it’s a date because it’s a man and a woman, you know? Whereas like really you just want people to listen to the jokes, so . . .
Hog: And keep it simply as possible . . . without any, any distractions.
Arms: Yeah . . . keep it as simple as possible. So, we often mix that up and, I think, in one of our, I think we did it . . . didn’t we do it in our First Dates sketch? Where we had like same sex couples, I think . . .
AF: Uh huh.
Foil: And in that first dates sketch the only woman we got away with the older woman.
Arms: [talks at the same time as Foil] the older woman, yeah.
Arms: So, sorry, I know we’ve kind of gone off a bit, but I hope . . .
AF: No, it’s incredibly interesting. I mean, I, well just because I don’t know . . . I know Foil’s reading the things that I’m writing, but I have no idea whether anyone else is reading anything.
Arms: I have occasionally read pieces, yeah. I quite liked the one that you wrote on the, um, talking to your children, talking to your children about other people.
AF: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, that is one of the most popular blogs that I’ve written because I called it Arms [as a] Modern “Daddy” and I put daddy in quotes and everybody was like, ooh daddy, you know. What’s Arms doing? So, it’s incredibly popular. It gets the most views. So, I wanted to ask you also about, um, and this comes out of a recent live stream that you did. Uh, where Arms you showed the Marx Brothers, um . . .
Arms: Oh, yeah.
AF: So, what I noticed in doing research for this interview was that a lot of people will ask you what your comedy heroes are, who your comedy heroes, who your, um, who your influenced by. But nobody asks you where this originated? And that’s what I’m curious about. You know, because, I mean . . .
Arms: [starts to respond, but stops because I want to clarify my questions] Yeah . . .
AF: . . . you use, I mean even in the live stream you presented and you said, and you talked about it, the stage coach scene and I’m just curious, you know who introduced you, or what film did you first see or why the Marx Brothers?
Arms: Yeah, I had an aunt, my auntie and uncle, Blanaid and Declan who were, uh, my mother’s sister and her husband, were kind of younger, a lot younger, maybe, I think even, potentially twenty years, near fifteen years younger than my mother, so they were the cool auntie and uncle and they loved the Marx Brothers and when I was about six, I think, I, I went over to, I had a sleep over at their house and watched Go West and I, just tears rolling down my face and I thought it was the best thing that I had ever seen and, uh, yeah and from then on in I watched all of them. Some of them are better than others now and some of them are, like, even when I watch now are kind of . . . even in the time between then and now they’ve kind of dated really badly but a lot of them are still absolutely hilarious. Oh, do you know like the Night at the Opera hasn’t dated, it’s still an amazing movie.
Arms: But, uh, yeah, so my aunt and my uncle showed it to me.
Foil: Yeah, my parents showed, just showed them to me. There’s something about when you watch something as a kid and you find it funny it just has a place in your heart forever, I guess.
Foil: They are brilliant. Yeah, my parents showed me the Marx Brothers because they like them and they showed me a lot of Bop Hope stuff . . . those ones.
Hog: [putting on a sort of 1920’s American accent] Yeah, you like this Bob Hope stuff, sit down kid, here’s a bourbon.
AF: And Hog how come you’re not as interested?
Hog: Em, they weren’t on my radar, uh, at all when I was, uh younger, uh, um yeah, that’ll show you how uncouth my family were. Um, no [unintelligible] . . .
Foil: But you know like even for us to be watching them, they were like, you know, ages old, so it was just really unusual, I guess.
Arms: Yeah, it was unusual.
Foil: I don’t think many people would have been shown, I think you may have been shown different things by your parents, they probably weren’t . . .
Hog: Em, yeah, yeah, they’re weren’t, uh, um, yeah . . .
Arms: We mostly read books . . .
Foil: The Beano and the Beano Annual . . .
AF: Well, you said in, uh, in one interview, um, the one you did in 2019 that you started watching stand up when you were very young and I was just curious, I mean did you, because the Marx Brothers are American obviously, and I just wondered if there were any American stand-up people that you watched or you were, I mean, I grew up watching Richard Pryor, you know, or Eddie Murphy, you know that kind of fairly intense stand up, so I was just curious.
Hog: Eh, yes! I, um, I grew up, I was quite young when I was watching the BBC. I think it was just called the Stand Up show on BBC and that was brilliant and I was watching that from like, from maybe 8 years of age, which was probably ahead of its time, ahead of my time for watching that show at that age. Eh, and then, eh, quickly I ended up seeing, yeah, Eddie Murphy and some other stuff just happened to cross my screen somehow and, eh, eh, yeah, got a . . . but I think the BBC Stand Up show was epic at the time and I was like, and it was beyond me but I could kind of recognize that and I thought this was great, this was great . . .
Arms: Hmmm [responding to Hog’s comment about how the BBC stand up was great.]
Hog: . . . uh, and then obviously they were talking about things that were bit yeah, a bit vulgar as well, you know ahead of me, eh, so I was like well, you know, this is interesting and funny. So, uh, yeah, that was great stuff, yeah. It’s easy to make a kid laugh, really, isn’t it, to be honest.
AF: So, I’m curious where, this is totally, totally, we’re veering again. This is the eclectic interview. Where was the Arms La Bullshat cement mixer filmed?
Foil: [when I say this is the “eclectic interview”] That’s ok.
[Hog and Arms guffaw at this question about the cement mixer.]
Arms: It was just outside our office. They, they had never removed it. It was just left from when they were building.
Arms: . . . and . . .
Hog: It’s caked over with cement.
Arms: Oh, yeah, yeah, I think that’s where it came from, we just kind of saw that and we were like and we were like, oh that’d be just funny . . .
Foil: And it happened to be sunny that day, so we were allowed to go outside with the camera.
Arms: Yeah, yeah.
Foil: I think you would be honestly incredibly surprised at how much of our stuff is not thought of in advance but is on the day, what is in the environment near us that we can get our hands on. What happens to be in the costume store. There’s very few things that are planned ahead and if they are planned ahead, generally it’s a day ahead. So, it’s mostly what’s at hand.
Arms: Yeah, yeah [agreeing with Foil about nothing being planned.]
Hog: Yeah, necessity that’s what makes things happen.
AF: So, do you think that that makes you much better at adapting?
Foil: Yeah, yeah. It makes production values look worse and get way more up into it. I mean, Monty Python said the same thing really, didn’t they? You know about like that’s obviously where the coconuts came from for the horses, they couldn’t get horses but they could get coconuts.
Hog: Yeah, the coconuts and the horse thing and then the coconuts ended up being funnier, than any horse would have been.
Foil: Yeah. Yeah, it’s funny, it makes you think outside the box an awful lot, which is probably where a lot of good stuff comes from.
AF: So, then, the, so the thing that you did in Chicago, the um, the course . . .
Foil: Oh, yeah.
AF: Did that influence you then, in terms of your humor or adapting or improv?
Hog: Yeah, there were some great stuff [Hog talked at the same time as I was finishing up my question.] Yeah, there was some great help in terms of like, um, what’s happening in a sketch, where it needs to go and um . . .
[A moment when they’re all talking at the same time!]
Arms: Establishment of the game, yeah that’s crucial.
Hog: Yeah, the game . . . yeah that’s what [Edmund] O’Brien taught us the best . . .
Foil: The language . . .Yeah.
[They all stop talking at once.]
Hog: . . . isn’t it yeah. Oh, yeah there’s a game involved here, that’s what sketches are. You follow a game, the audience plays a game with you, you set up a game, you tell them the rules of the game and then you continue that game and every joke is a continuation of that game. You’re eh, trying to, you’re trying to repeat the, the game, but just doing it in a different way. So, a . . . it means nothing unless I give you an example . . . um . . .
Foil: No, but a pun, a pun sketch is a game. The game is going to be puns . . . so that’s it.
Hog: Yeah . . .
Foil: It gave us a language to talk about what we, we’re struggling to talk about and it made us, it made it a lot easier to write sketches a lot quicker because we could go, oh that’s not on game, that is on game, that’s a point we need to take it here . . .
Arms: Yes . . .
Foil: It gave us, yeah, that kind of technical language, which we didn’t have . . .
Arms: And to script edit as well. To go, this is extraneous here, we don’t need that . . .
AF: So, if you, if you’re adapting all the time. Well, Foil, if you’re saying well, you just sort of use what’s at hand, how does your writing fit into that? If you’re “writing” a sketch? So, I mean, how does that fit into just deciding to do something?
Foil: Most of the time we write on, like on a Thursday, film on a Friday, so we kind of sit down and we don’t know what we’re going to write that day or whose brought what to the table, unless it’s like a really weird setting we kind of think that we’re going to be able to make it happen . . . we don’t worry too much about how it’s going to happen.
Arms: No, we don’t worry too much anymore . . .
Foil: That’s a problem for Friday morning or Thursday night.
Arms: Yeah, Thursday’s problem, Friday afternoon’s problem . . .
Hog: Yeah, that’s my problem . . .
Arms: I’ve got to go . . .
Hog: [says something in Irish, but unsure what it is. If any fahn knows, write to me.]
Arms: Barbara, I have to, I have to hit the road . . .
AF: Okay, alright, thank you so much.
Arms: Sorry I can’t finish out the interview, um . . .
Hog: Rude arsehole . . .
Arms: So rude . . .
AF: That’s okay, that’s okay, I so appreciate it, thank you very much.
Arms: Thank you so much.
Hog: Leaving at 5:32 . . .
Arms: See ya . . .