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Questions about Skiddlywup [2016]

Very early in my correspondence on Patreon with Foil, I asked him many questions about the "Undercover Agent in Africa" sketch.  This was at the beginning of the Black Lives Matter movement in the spring of 2020, and the political and social justice actions surrounding the George Floyd murder in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25, 2020.  I had seen this particular sketch many times and watched it with my niece (who I talked to Foil about in my message below.)  I was very curious about his views concerning FAH's own sketch,  which had received mixed responses from my family and friends.  I thought I would share my original message to him and his response, which I think is very compelling and insightful.

The entire Skiddlywup show with this very interesting sketch can be seen on their Patreon page. So definitely join, if you haven't already, so that you can watch this live show and have more context for the exchange below.

June 21, 2020

Dear Foil Arms and Hog: I just wanted to say how grateful I am that you've posted all of your live shows so far. It is such a joy to watch them (over and over again). When I received the information about being a Patron, you said that people could write to you and ask you questions, but you didn't say what they could ask.  I'm writing to ask about one of your sketches, which I hope is okay to do. I was wondering about the sketch with the African-American "woman" that Conor plays in the Skiddlywup show and whether you ever performed that for a mixed or non-white audience? And what do you think of that sketch now in light of what is happening all over the world with the Black Lives Matter movement? That is, how do you see your own sketch in this new context? I understand it is couched in satire about race and perspective (Hog is clearly playing the straight man here who is totally uncomfortable with everything that is going on), but I was just curious if you ever go back and think about previous sketches you've done and whether in a new context you might perform something in a different way. I've watched this sketch with my niece who is 11 and African (adopted from Ethiopia; her mother and I are white), and she hazarded a guess that Conor might have modeled his character after Tiffany Haddish or Queen Latifah, so we wondered about this as well.

I hope these are not too many questions to ask about one sketch. And that this message is not a bother to the three of you. I deeply respect the work that you do and the time and energy you put into creating thoughtful, interesting comedy. With all best wishes, Barbara 


June 22, 2020

Hey Barbara, first off thanks a mil for supporting the channel! We really appreciate it. Delighted you're enjoying the content.


Now onto your question. It's a great one and very interesting. I haven't revisited that sketch since the Black Lives Matter movement kicked off in a big way recently.


So we wrote that sketch a long time ago. Initially performing it at a huge international arts festival and then all around the UK and Ireland. It always went down extremely well and in front of mixed audiences (although predominantly white). We have had many black men and women comment to us after shows about enjoying it, which was lovely.


However we stopped performing it after receiving a complaint in Nottingham, England from an English lady who described it as racist. Now we don't believe it to be racist and we would be very upset it this was a general consensus. However if it was making audiences uncomfortable, even a tiny proportion, it had to go because we want everyone to have a fun time.


The sketch is a satire on political correctness gone too far, and the strange phenomenon that as a white Irish performer it's ok to do a French, Italian, English etc accent but not one from Africa, even though there are white people with African accents and black people with French, Italian and English accents.


We asked ourselves from the off with that sketch would we perform it to an entirely black audience if given the chance and we said that we would. If we thought we wouldn't do that then deep down we must know that the sketch must be offensive.


I sincerely hope that the sketch is not deemed racist, and it would be very upsetting if for instance that it had upset your niece. But I stand by the comedy of the sketch and where it came from. Of course we have to keep an open mind and keep trying to learn. And if in the future we learn something that makes me believe it's offensive we'll remove it immediately. But in the mean time it's there because we believe that people will enjoy it. There's so much hurt and devastation caused by race in the world at the moment, so if we can get a smile out of it, without hurting anyone, then I think it's an important thing.


This is very all very serious! I hope that goes some way to answering your question.


As for your niece's question, I don't know if the accent is based off any one person. Possibly an amalgamation of the many character that we've seen growing up watching American TV and movies.


Thanks again and all the best, Foil and the gang

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