The Big Time: An Interview with Joe Viner and Cody Dahler
ST.ART sat down with Joe Viner and Cody Dahler of the St. Andrews Revue to talk about their upcoming show, The Big Time.
ST.ART: Tell me about the St. Andrews Revue.
Joe Viner: Well, we are the one and only University of St. Andrews sketch comedy troupe, performing usually about three shows a year within St. Andrews, though usually taking our shows to The Fringe in Edinburgh. We also hold auditions in the beginning of every year, trying to take in new people. And this Thursday, we’ll be performing The Big Time.
ST.ART: How would you describe The Big Time?
JV: The Big Time is a show about friendship, success, and dealing with newfound fame! The idea of the show is that we have made it to the big time, achieved massive success, and as a result of that, tensions arise. The main narrative the show takes is that we have to kind of patch up our friendship.
ST.ART: How would you describe your creative process when it comes to writing shows like this?
JV: We’ll have quite a few sketches in the backlog that we’ve written earlier in the year or thought of over the summer, and we come together and figure them out.
Cody Dahler: Specifically with The Big Time - this is actually our On The Rocks show - it did change quite a lot. We wrote it last year, took the best sketches from that, and added some funnier ones. It’s a big trial and error process throughout the whole year. You try to write as much as possible, but we really try to drive our shows through a formulated narrative. There are some sketch groups who will just do sketches, but we kind of like to have a storyline that binds these sketches together, which I would say is the hardest part.
JV: Lot’s of sitting in silence, trying to think of an idea. When we say that we need to think of a punchline…
CD: …and then just silence. We spend probably 60% of our time together in pure silence.
ST.ART: Well, clearly this silence has paid off! You have performed multiple times in Edinburgh, and received fantastic reviews this summer. What was that experience like?
JV: Well, it’s a pretty gruelling month, doing twenty-five shows consecutively, but it’s really fun! We have a great time. Being in a good venue makes a big difference, and we were in a good venue this summer.
CD: In my first year, we were in a venue that basically only exists for first comers that completely missed the deadline. They popped us in there at 1:00 in the afternoon, maybe had six people come a day, which was awful but definitely character-building! No matter what, during the show itself you go into this sort of autopilot mode, so it’s still enjoyable.
ST.ART: What would you say are some big differences between performing in Edinburgh and performing in St. Andrews?
CD: Nicer crowds! More appreciative in the sense that they haven’t been to see three or four shows immediately before yours, though this summer really did go well for us in Edinburgh. The audience definitely seemed to like it.
JV: Right, it’s absolutely less likely to have a hostile audience in St. Andrews. In Edinburgh, there could be a crowd in the front that kind of wandered in and they are vocally unimpressed and I would say disappointed by the tights we wear during the show.
CD: Shows in Edinburgh can also be more offensive than they can be here, but that’s The Fringe! It’s such a hodgepodge of all these different senses of humour. Although, it’s important to keep in mind that if the intention isn’t to offend, and it’s still funny, that’s comedy for you.
ST.ART: What is it about sketch comedy that specifically attracted you both? What makes you passionate about it?
JV: I would say it’s the money, fame, power, you know, all that. No, in all seriousness, I’ve just always loved comedy, but I couldn’t see myself doing stand-up or improv, so sketch comedy was my ideal medium.
CD: You become a bit more comfortable forming jokes when you’re doing it collectively. You’re in it together! It’s a bit more catastrophic when you’re doing a stand-up set and you get no laughs, which totally throws you off, whereas when you’re doing a sketch that goes down badly you get away with it more for the sake of the other performers with you.
JV: Also in a sketch, you aren’t yourself at all but instead you’re playing a character. This is less nerve-wracking as you can make fun of things that aren’t necessarily about you. You can also have so many different layers to a single sketch.
CD: Right, from a single idea you can end up getting an evermore complicated, but extremely funny, piece.
JV: And we want other people to realise this great world of sketch comedy, too.
CD: I’d say the main thing in our way to attracting more people is that we don’t have any friends. It’s hard to attract people when you know no one! No, but we really would like for more people to come and try it out. That’s why we would love for people to come and see The Big Time. We want to show freshers or just students in general the style we do, and what sketch comedy actually entails. We try to stress that it requires both writing and performing, so by having the show it allows them to immerse themselves in the genre. The show could be kind of seen as a recruitment drive for people who don’t know about us, but they can come see the show and become interested!
JV: Other than that, people should come knowing that all proceeds go to charity. We’re raising money for Families First-St. Andrews, so people should know that they’re supporting a great local charity that does a lot in the Fife area. In addition to this, if you want to come see Cody, in a dress, dancing to a Spanish ballad, this is the show for you. Because, honestly, how could anyone miss that?
The Big Time: A Sketch Comedy Show will be performed October 5th at the Barron Theatre. There will be two shows, one from 8:00-9:00 p.m. and another more ‘x-rated’ version from 10:00-11:00 p.m. Tickets are £4 at the door, and all proceeds go to Families First-St. Andrews. Auditions for The Revue will be held on October 10th in School II of Sallies Quad between 6:00-9:30 p.m.