I was researching and thinking about FAH’s touring history when I came up with these questions to ask Foil. My plan was to put some of this material together in the FAH history that I wrote on this website, but I decided against it and instead it is here for the subscriber’s reading pleasure. Foil's story about how he wrote the U.S. Immigration sketch is interesting. I, of course, wrote my own analysis of this sketch (see FAHnalysis section) and I have to say it was a difficult one to do. There was a ton of stuff in the sketch that I needed to research so that I was clear about my responses to the claims they made. It took me forever to write as well and I couldn’t wait until it was done! It definitely was one of the hardest analytical pieces that I've written since I started this website.
1) When did you write the U.S. Immigration sketch?
2) Was this before you went to the Kansas City Irish Festival in 2016 or was it while you were there?
3) How many times have you toured the U.S.? From interviews and the end of certain sketches, I gathered that you've been there in 2014, 2016 (just in Kansas City), and in 2019, and you told me that you were going to the U.S. in the Autumn of 2020. I think you've been to Chicago twice (2014, 2019), then New York city, Boston, LA, Philadelphia.
4) Have you been to San Francisco? Were you planning on going to other cities this fall besides where you had gone previously?
Foil: So the first US "Tour" was in 2014 I think and it wasn't really a tour proper. Primarily we were going over to Chicago to do a course in Second City for a week, which was great fun. While we were in Chicago we performed in a sketch comedy festival there, then had gigs lined up in San Fran, Las Vagas, and finally one in Hawaii on a stop over to Adelaide Australia where we were going to perform in the fringe festival. I say it wasn't a tour proper because we did all the gigs for free/accommodation. It was just a bit of fun but cost us a fortune!! Then in 2016 we did the Kansas City Irish Fest and we wrote the US Immigration sketch before we left. I wrote it based off the fear we were all having about the customs checks you get going to the US. We filmed it super quickly and it kinda took off online. When we arrived in Kansas they were all talking about the sketch, it was great. Then the recent American Tour was a tour proper. We were in talks about coming back again and in October 2020 to do an East Coast Tour and a West Coast one but it's all been put on ice with Covid.
In August I became very interested in FAH's pig logo and why this was their chosen trademark for their comedy. I was thinking about adding to the History section on my website and I was going to write up something extensive about their logo, but clearly that never happened. In preparation for this, however, I wrote to Foil on August 17th to ask him about the pig. His and the lads’ responses are on the Patreon third Q & A [September 3, 2020], but since I did ask the questions of the lads I thought I would just talk a bit more about why I was interested in this subject in the first place.
A pig is such a different kind of logo to have for three guys from Dublin doing sketch comedy. I was particularly interested in why the pig was blue. Why not brown or white or some other color? I had not seen anything written up about this very interesting image and nothing was discussed in their interviews over the years, including anything to do with the Edinburgh Fringe or the fact that FAH had this blue pig all over their YouTube videos and their merchandise. So, I wrote to Foil to ask my most pressing questions about the mighty pig!
I tried to be really thorough in my questions and Foil said he would give a shout out to my website on the Q & A and then ask the pig questions as well. It was a really wonderful moment, of course, to get a shout out but then it was great to hear the lads get so into the questions and really think about their responses. I can't link the live stream here because it’s on Patreon [unless I have express permission from the lads in writing, I never link or post anything extensive from Patreon. I've definitely gotten a lot of permissions since I've had this website up and running.] However, if you're not on Patreon, I highly recommend it. Joining FAH's Patreon was definitely one of the absolute best decisions I've ever made. It's certainly well worth the money to see how the lads handled those very early live streams. They are so different than the ones we see today! No fancy equipment or lights, no individual mics or headphones, just the three lads sitting in a row talking to one camera and answering our questions.
I also want to give a bit more context and a little bit more explanation for why I asked certain questions about the pig. I suggested some answers to Foil in my questions to him, which he then sort of integrated into his conversation with the lads in the moment of talking to them about the pig logo. Also, Foil, as usual asks my questions out of order, so the answers come out of order too!
1) Why did you choose a pig as your logo? This seemed like the most obvious place to start with the questions!
2) Why is it broken up into sections like a butcher's pig diagram? Note that Foil references my answer to question #7 here on the Patreon live stream. But this does seem the most reasonable answer: sketch comedy is in parts and so the pig is in parts to equate with the sketch components. Arms, of course, agrees with him wholeheartedly, having no other plausible answer to provide.
3) And when did you start using this logo on your video sketches on YouTube or in your shows? I really wondered about this. The shows evolved over time, of course, and at first they didn't even have the cymbal incorporated into their sketches, so when in the world did the pig show up? I just remember seeing the giant Vicar Street pig in pictures on the internet, but had no idea when this entered into the act. As it turns out and what we learn from their live stream, is it rolled up quite late in the game, four years after their first Edinburgh Fringe gig in 2009. They finally agree on 2012 for the live shows. In the same year, they began using the pig logo on their YouTube sketches.
4) Did one of you in the trio come up with the pig logo? I thought, well, maybe one of them might have had a hand in creating the logo, so why not ask about it? And as it turns out, Foil is the "visuals guy" as Hog tells us and it was he who spurred on the iterations of the design of the pig.
5) Does it have to do with Hog's name? I mean, could this be an obvious connection? Hog . . . a pig . . . he hogs the limelight . . . so it had to be a pig? Who knows? But indeed we learn that yes, it does! And . . . true to form, Foil (and Arms) answer this question, along with question #1 and then move past it in the live stream when it comes up later.
6) Why is the pig blue? I asked this question because the predominant color that I saw all over FAH's sketches was the blue pig, but it is Foil who tells us that the first pig was probably "purple." Or it could just have easily been the need to match a blue shirt. Yeah, these are not complicated color choices for the lads :).
7) Does it have anything to do with sketch comedy, which is what I wondered about when you first asked for questions for the Q & A. And yes it does! And, as I said, above, Foil integrates this question into #2 and moved past it in the live stream.
8) Did having the pig logo influence your choice of names for the Oink / Craicling / Swines / Hogwash shows? This seemed obvious to me and I think the lads agreed about this pretty unanimously. Yes, the pig certainly ties into the great names for their shows that have something to do with pigs. Just as an aside, Craicling is by far my favorite live stream (that I've watched on Patreon) and the play on words is so brilliant as well. Crackling / Craicling - who doesn't love that?
9) Why is the pig facing to the left? (If you noticed, the pig I chose for the first page of my website is facing right - that was to honor your pig logo, but not to copy your pig logo direction.) Well, dear subscriber, I honestly don't think FAH ever noticed that the pig I chose for my website is facing to the right and I also don't think they ever thought about the way their logo pig was facing either. But enquiring minds - like mine - wanted to know! There could have been some incredible significance, but alas, we learn there really isn't :).
10) Is the pig logo based on a certain breed of pig? I actually thought about this question for far too long. I like pigs, a lot, and I've lived on a farm where we raised pigs, so pigs are part of my life history. I was really excited to know the answer to this question, but again, no. The pig is not based on any breed, though Hog suggested one that sounded pretty real, but it's not.
September 7th 2020:
I had already been wondering about what kind of music the lads liked and when someone asked them this on the third Q & A [September 3, 2020], I decided that I wanted to follow up a bit with Foil and his musical tastes. I was really interested in his love of punk rock. I had taught some punk rock documentaries in my writing classes at DePaul University (in Chicago) in the past, so I wanted to pursue this line of questioning with him and see where it went.
1) In the last Q & A [September 3, 2020] you said that you like the band NOFX . . . But I'm just wondering how you came across them since they're from LA (how ironic that the FAH mystery [Case of Warehouse 1] is set in LA!).
2) And I was wondering what drew you to their music?
3) Have you always been interested in punk music?
4) And why did you describe them as "melodic punk" - is this because they are not exactly hard core? [insert youtube vid that I sent to Foil here as an example]
Foil: I came across them when I was a teenager and that whole pop punk thing was MASSIVE! So bands like Blink182, Sum41, Greenday. And whereas those bands were fun to listen to I was missing that kind of rock and roll big riffs melodic base lines and just funky rhythms. I just thought that musically they were on another level. I think Melvin the guitarist was actually a jazz guitarist before NOFX (could be wrong on that, I haven't done the reading!!) Other kids I hung out with introduced them to me and over the years since they’re the one band that I keep on coming back to.
September 18, 2020
I really have been very interested in growing my website and I talked extensively to Foil about this in our correspondence. One of the ideas that I had was to share particular questions that were sort of follow up ones to things that they had talked about in the live Q & A streams. So, I proposed to Foil that I could ask some questions and then share them with my subscribers only. And the questions below are the product and outcome of what I asked in September and what he told me. You’ll see how long it’s taken me to get this stuff up on my website, but I think the information is still very interesting and well worth a read. Please do not share this information with non-subscribers.
1) Do you play snooker professionally? I remember from one of the Q & A sessions that you said you strapped your snooker cue to your bike. Is this typical?
Foil: I am not anywhere near a professional snooker player, I don't think I even qualify as a bad amateur but I really enjoy playing it. And I did have a snooker cue taped to my bike as I was going to play after work.
2) Do you do bike races?
Foil: I don't cycle in races either, just to work. I love cycling, and Sam Bennett yesterday winning the sprint and the green jersey in the Tour de France was preeeeeeety sweet!
3) In the 1st Q & A [July 9, 2020], Arms mentioned that you all started out in theatre (DramSoc, I'm assuming), and I wondered what plays you were in? He said comedy plays, so I just wondered about this.
Foil: We did so many plays, especially me. I think I was in about 20 plays in my first year. It was insane. They were all just plays that went on for a week in the university but were great fun. Unfortunately there's no list of them all. Some of the fun comedy plays I can remember doing were The Real Inspector Hound (Arms was actually in that with me, both of our first plays in Dramsoc), I also did Mistero Buffo, Alone it Stands, The Father Ted play was all three of us, a highlight for me was doing This Lime Tree Bower which I actually went to the Edinburgh Fringe with in 2007 I think?
September 21, 2020
I just wanted to thank Foil for all the wonderful information he had sent along to me and I honestly didn't expect him to answer the question that I asked here, but he did [and he gave me permission to include it.]
1) Thank you also for the names of the plays you've been in - 20 plays in your first year seems like a huge amount. When did you study actual academic work? Though it all sounds like a blast, frankly.
Foil: And yes, I just completely ignored architecture. I was happy to scrape through academically as long as I could keep doing plays.... sensible? Maybe not.
October 1, 2020
Again, more follow up questions and more permissions granted!
1) So, have you done more plays than either Arms or Hog? Were you on the DramSoc Awards committee ever?
Foil: I defo did more plays than Arms and Hog in Dramsoc! Like more [than] anyone else, it was ridiculous. I was on the committee for two years, my second and third years in college and then after I stepped away Conor was Auditor of the society.