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Interview: Bits ‘n’ Bobs on their Fringe show What The… Feminist?

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Bits ‘n’ Bobs are a sketch group made up of eight students straight out of LAMDA, currently performing their musical satire “What The…Feminist?” at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Their show explores relevant issues of equality and misogyny through the medium of comedy, using musical numbers combined with potent satire to deliver an experience that is both hilarious and thought provoking. We spoke with Sophie, Calum and Lucy from the group about their show and how they feel about bringing it to the Fringe for the first time. 

 

Hey guys, so this will be your first time at the Fringe, how are you feeling?

Sophie: Lucy and I have actually participated in the Fringe before, but it’s an entirely different experience taking an original show. It’s quite daunting. It feels very much like being a small fish in a big pond, up against so many established names and companies, but there’s a sense of comfort in the familiarity as well. We’ve been trying to prepare our Fringe newbies for the atmosphere but nothing quite does it justice.

Calum: I’m really excited. Can’t wait to see some sick drag!

Sophie: Thanks, Calum.

 

How would you describe your upcoming show?

Sophie: Put simply, it’s a forty-five-minute fun, fast-paced, feminist comedy cabaret. If you were after something a bit more detailed, I’d say it’s our remedy for people feeling a bit disenfranchised by the state of the world at the moment.

Lucy: There’s something for everyone. It’s very tongue-in-cheek, we just want everyone to have a good time. If they learn something at the same time then our job is done!

Calum: Blogger ‘Thoughts From Jasmine’ described it as “the perfect balance of witty and uncomfortable” which I think sums us up pretty well.

 

What was it that inspired you to put the show together? Was there a particular moment that pushed you to do it?

Sophie: Strangely enough it essentially started as homework. In a scenario we never thought we’d be in, Mischief Theatre came into LAMDA to do a couple of workshops on “Creating Your Own Work” and everyone was tasked with creating an idea to pitch to them the following week. We all just happened to be sitting on the same row! A lot of us are musical so that was a straightforward choice, but it didn’t take us long to decide on feminism as a theme. This was early 2017 when there was a lot going on in the media with the US election, the Brock Turner case and so on, so we had a lot that we wanted to say. We got such positive feedback on our scatted version of “Feminism is a Myth Perpetrated by the Chinese” (based on Trump’s claims about global warming) that we thought “well, we’ve got a hit!”.

 

What was the process of actually creating the show like? Was it a collaborative process or did one person direct others?

 Sophie: I didn’t think it was possible for nine people to co-write a show, but that is what we’ve done! It’s entirely collaborative; every sketch is thought up by an individual, usually based on a past experience or an article, then we workshop and bounce off each other until we have something we’re happy with. Tia, Calum and I handled most of the music and lyrics, but it really has been a case of everyone chipping in. We do call Tia our Musical Director as she is our incredible pianist for most of the show and she lets us know when we are flat (she won’t take any credit but we’d be lost without her!). 

 

We're really excited to see how you explore feminism and misogyny through comedy in the show. Do you think using comedy makes these social issues more easily accessible for people, because you are tackling them in a way that is enjoyable?

Sophie: In a word, yes. It’s been lovely to work with likeminded people, but we know not everyone thinks the same way we do. From experience, being confronted with issues as sensitive as these can cause a lot of people to get defensive and shut down. 

Lucy: We’re trying to maintain that conversation by using satirical representations of daily life that people can relate to. 

 

Do you think we need more examples of feminist works in comedy and within the wider avenue of theatre and drama?

Sophie: Always yes.

Lucy: Especially from underrepresented minorities. 

Sophie: It’s more interesting to hear the stories of people who rarely get the platform, which is why Edinburgh Fringe is such a melting pot. We’re aware of so many feminist shows going up this year so we can’t wait to see as many as possible. 

 

You recently performed at Katzpace Theatre in London, what was it like to bring the show to the public there? 

Sophie: Amazing! It was the first time we’d had an audience that wasn’t made up of our friends, so the positive feedback was a really nice surprise. 

Lucy: There’s always the fear with comedy that it’s just you that finds it funny, so it was a nerve-wracking experience. But loads of fun.

 

 

Do you think the atmosphere will be different at the Fringe, compared with the London stage?

Lucy: There’s an amazing energy at the festival so it’ll be interesting to see how that affects the show. It will be rewarding to hopefully see people we’ve been flyering in the audience.

Sophie: There’s more of a chance to make a connection with the people who come to see it, because we’ll be in amongst them on the Mile every day.

 

Are there any comedians or shows that you would say have influenced you?

Sophie: Rachel Parris, Lolly Adefope, Katherine Ryan, Felicity Ward, Tracee Ellis Ross.Lucy: Jessie Cave, Roisin Conaty, Evelyn Mok, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler.

Sophie: All the women, but also Nish Kumar, Robert Webb, Russell Howard... Musically, comedians like Tim Minchin, Bo Burnham, shows like Book of Mormon, Avenue Q.

 

And finally, what can we expect from you after the Fringe?

Lucy: It’s very up in the air. We’re all really busy, so it’s rare to get us all together in the same place! We’ll see what happens, but right now we’re focussing on just enjoying the Fringe.

Calum: You can find me in the bar.

Sophie: Thanks, Calum.

 


What the….Feminist? will run at The Space on the Mile from 3rd-11th August (excl. 5th) at 22:30.

 

 This article is part of our coverage of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Click here to read other articles written by our contributors. 

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