Social Media vs. Live Shows Continued
FAH have been asked a lot about the differences between their live shows and the work that they post to their social media sites. They have explained quite a few times that they definitely enjoy doing live shows more than the videos because they get to interact with the audience, and they don’t have to use so many props as in the videos, which require costumes and sometimes fairly distinct narratives. Involved audiences are a vital component to FAH’s success with their live shows. Foil explained in 2019 that their “intention is to bring everyone on board as it can be terrifying for some people [to be picked on]. But we love doing it because you never know what the audience may do, and we get a bit of a buzz from it. It’s the element that makes every show unique” (Veronica Lee, Chortle).
In terms of their social media presence and their weekly videos, Foil stated in an interview with Dublin Live that “We make nothing off the videos, we do them as a way to get people to come to the live show . . . We’d love to just do the show, but the videos have been massive for attracting an audience” (2017). The live material came first, they’ve explained, and as Arms has so astutely pointed out: “You have to find out whether real people think you’re funny before you get internet people to find you funny” (BBC Radio Ulster 2017).
They have often said that the videos are an unknown; Arms, especially, has talked at length in many interviews about how hard it is to know what will work and what doesn’t for a YouTube or Facebook audience. He has said that there is always a fear that something will flop entirely and people will hate it. In a 2017 interview for Motley, he explained their process further, “the audience can see you but you can’t see them. You have no idea if they’re enjoying it. And if you happened to wake up at eight o’clock in the morning [when the videos are scheduled for release] to go to the toilet or something, your heart starts thumping ‘cause you know the video’s out and you’re screwed ‘cause you have to check it.” In a December 2019 interview with Dermot and Dave on TodayFM, Foil stated that “after 20 minutes we know on Facebook judging by how many likes [a new video] has gotten whether it’s a success or a failure.” According to Foil, they “make a point of never performing the online videos live. What works online usually doesn’t work on stage. It’s very different kind of comedy, and much more surreal live” (Chortle 2019).
Still, Arms has also asserted that film and radio are easier than the live shows because it is possible to be more nuanced in these mediums. The live shows can bomb, of course, and sometimes, as Foil has pointed out in several interviews, the audience can laugh at something that the three never intended to be funny in a sketch but was meant as a setup up for the big laugh. Mistakes happen more easily on the stage as well because as they explain, they never really know what to expect from an audience.
Though they have repeatedly said that they do the videos that they post on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram to get people into their live shows, they have also developed a worldwide audience of fans who have never even seen them live. Arms explained in a 2015 interview with The Limerick Post that they began to “put up the videos for ourselves. We were experimenting. Trying to figure out how to be funny in a low stakes environment.” But their outreach has grown exponentially since they first began creating and posting videos. Very recently, in May 2020, they finally created their own Patreon page, bringing several hundred (and growing) paying fans together for behind the scenes videos, live Q & A’s and a variety of different extras, including a recent spate of “How we got the look” tutorials.
When asked in an interview with Becca Moody in 2018 whether the audiences who come to their live shows were the same people who watched the YouTube videos, FAH had this to say: “The YouTube audience is incredibly diverse, we’re really popular in places like in India, Hong Kong and Burkina Faso. Unfortunately with audiences on the UK and Irish tour, Burkina Faso is still terribly underrepresented.” In a 2019 interview with Foil, the “spokesman for the trio off stage,” he was asked about their “broad demographic” and he explained “When we look out into the audience and see people from eight to 80 it gives us such a buzz. We have people tell us after a show that their son or daughter has found us online and introduced them to our comedy, and they come to see us together. It’s great” (Veronica Lee Chortle).