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Edinburgh Fringe Interview: The Three Half Pints

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With Edinburgh Fringe kicking off today, many acts have their work cut out. For slapstick comedy trio The Three Half Pints, it's no different. Meet the three men of less than average height but with hearts of pure comedy gold... The Three Half Pints (Ernie, Derek and Dick)

Firstly, why the name The Three Half Pints and who exactly are they?

The Three Half Pints are three brothers Dick, Derek and Ernie played by Richard Franks, Callum Donnelly and Robin Hatcher. Dick is an utter moron who struggles to comprehend even the basics of normal existence, Derek is the upper class buffoon, convinced of his own intellect and skill and Ernie is the showman, eager to please the audience. The name came about as the three of us are all very short (5’7 being the best we can manage if we stretch!) and so we thought about things that are smaller than the norm. Plus, at the time of talking about it we happened to be having a beer, so the name stuck.

How did Three Half Pints get started?

We started at a university module that focussed on variety theatre, something which still inspires us enormously. At the end of term we put on a full variety show, we chose to be a slapstick trio and loved it so much that we wanted to continue.

Who/What are your influences?

Our influences are very varied. As mentioned, we began by looking into variety and so the likes of Norman Wisdom, Max Miller, Morecombe and Wise and Laurel and Hardy are hugely important to us. More contemporary influences are people like Fry and Laurie right up to the IT crowd and Scrubs.

Could you describe the difficulties you encountered when you first started up?

When we first started the difficulty for us was funding, and it remains a difficulty two years into working together. We have been very lucky in that we get to perform regularly as the Gulbenkian Theatre's group in residence, and that has been amazing for us. Balancing student life and performing was easy; we decided early on that being Half Pints was the most important thing to all of us, and so that has taken the priority for two years. We were lucky we could get credit for it in our degrees!

What's the most rewarding part of performing as The Three Half Pints?

The most rewarding thing by far is doing shows to entire families, and having people as young as six laughing alongside their 85-year-old grandparents. Its brilliant when some jokes have all the kids rolling around with laughter, but then in the same breath we include a joke specifically for the adults, that’s a really great feeling.

Describe the challenges you face performing this particular type of comedy in today's world. How do you make it accessible for a modern audience?

We firmly believe that our style of comedy has legs to modern audiences, and so far have been proved right. However it helps to mix in modern references in the otherwise nostalgic and retro world the Three Half Pints work in.

This type of comedy is so well known and with so many points of references, is it challenging to keep your sketches fresh and original?

We don’t really struggle, we find ourselves sitting down and thinking about what we would like to see, and whether we would laugh, and if so we go for it and give it a go. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Once we cut open a mattress for a gag so one of us could get into it, but the springs were too rusty and the spiders inside far too large so we abandoned ship on that one!

What's the hardest thing about working together and being friends?

Sometimes it can be stressful, however we find each other utterly hilarious all of the time, and so even when we have had a stressful rehearsal or situation we can normally laugh it off within the hour. The fact we find one another so funny is essential for our comedy, as we hope people will laugh as much as we do.

What can we expect from your forthcoming show?

Expect to see Dick, Derek and Ernie struggling along in a world that is just too big for them. There will be high energy slapstick comedy for the whole family from the go. Also, you’ll probably see us get some lines wrong at some point and desperately try to cover it whilst the other two openly mock the one at fault.

Lastly, any tips for those attending or performing at Edinburgh this year?

Jump straight into it, absorb every possible opportunity as it is truly the best place we have ever been. If you’re performing just chat to everyone you meet, you’ll meet some amazing people who will support you from then on. Another tip would be to come and see the Three Half Pints, as you wouldn’t want to miss out.

The Three Half Pints will be performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival from the 12th-24th August at the Space UK: Surgeons Hall. See http://www.threehalfpints.co.uk/ or @threehalfpints for more details.




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