Will Hislop and Barney Fishwick, otherwise known as Giants, are bringing their hotly anticipated debut show to the Edinburgh Fringe.
Born two days apart, it’s taken Will and Barney just over twenty-two years for them to put their first show together. If you think Will looks familiar, that's because he's the son of Have I Got News For You legend Ian Hislop.
Former Presidents of the Oxford Revue, they began writing and performing sketches together at university and last year performed at the Assembly George Square, to 2500 people with the Oxford Revue.
This is your debut Edinburgh Fringe show. How are you feeling?
Will: Yeah, pretty good. We did lots of shows at University but this is very much our first time doing it outside of a University context so we’re really excited about taking it up to Edinburgh.
You have performed at the Fringe before, as part of the Oxford Revue. Why now to perform as Giants?
Will: I don’t know. I think, it’s because at University there’s a lot of time spent in a nice environment, learning and getting it wrong and when we finished University we thought right, it’s time to actually put a show together.
I guess we felt at a good stage in our writing partnership to really try something.
Where did the name Giants come from?
Will: There was a two week period where we tried to come up with names and lots of different ones got thrown around; Linen, Little Sparkly Sandles, The Smelly Girls, Sports Boys.
I think we eventually settled on a name that wasn’t too silly, wasn’t necessarily too leading.
Barney: It sounds quite arrogant now, that we think we’re going to be comedy giant, but that’s not what we’re trying to say. It’s our debut show and already we’re saying that we’re giants! (Laughs)
How long has this show taken to put together?
Will: We’ve been working on the material on and off for most of the year doing mixed bill nights around London with friends of ours who we met on the comedy scene. Being invited to things and really trying lots of different material.
And then in the last couple of months, we’ve been developing it into more of a narrative and developing a full hour show.
Barney: We've done a few comedy festivals and we did the Brighton Fringe so we’ve been working on it now for a while. Now we’re just giving it its final shape and polish.
What is the narrative then?
Barney: It’s more of a structure, so it’s not necessarily that it goes A to B to C. It’s more that everything is bookended and ring-fenced. Will and I have known each other for 23 years, basically all our lives!
Will was born two days after me, so there are a lot of sketches, but the show also plays on our friendship and how we’ve known eachother – the petty squabbles and quirks of our friendship.
That’s all played in and around the sketches so we encourage the audience to get to know us. There are photos of us when we were at school and stuff like that, vaguely charting our lives.
How have the previews been going?
Will: They’ve been a lot of fun, I mean we’ve done some of them in quite pubby venues, so they’ve been quite rough and ready. We started off trying incredibly ambitious tech, and pyrotechnics… which always failed miserably. It’s been really good and we’ve got lots of friends who have been really generous with their time, and will come and see us.
Barney: My parents have seen the show about six times already.
Will: Yeah, we’ve got loyal parents.
David Elms is directing your show. How did that come about?
Will: He’s brilliant. We saw him years ago when we first came up to the Edinburgh Fringe and he was just so so funny, just unbelievably stand-out funny.
Then this year we did a mixed bill night where we hosted and had comedians that we were friends with on as well as comedians that we really loved and admired, and we got in contact with David and he did the gig.
He then came up to us at the end and said “I like your stuff, and I think I could help you guys and if you’d like I could direct it?” He’s got so much experience, and knows so much.
What’s the best advice he’s given you?
Barney: The best bit of advice he gave us recently was not to apologise for any jokes. To just put them out there and trust our instincts and our performances and not apologise away anything. His big thing is to just go for it and let gags settle.
Where does your comedy inspiration come from?
Barney: I mean lots of people really. Contemporary people you’ve got Key and Peele who are a sketch double-act, and are just phenomenally funny and amazing. And then you go back and there’s Mitchell and Webb, we’re big fans of them.
How important is the Fringe to you?
Barney: Massively! It’s becoming that the whole year culminates in the Fringe. There are other channels, YouTube and VOD series and stuff like that – but it remains the same, the Fringe is the avenue if you want to go anywhere. You have to try and get something on there and try and have some success there.
Will: It’s also the only place you can perform 30 times in a row and have an audience. There’s nowhere else on earth that you have two million people, or however many people it is, coming through and wanting to see stuff.
It’s amazing that there is that appetite to see shows. So you’ve got to go up there and make the most of that audience. We were lucky last year that with the Oxford Revue we performed in a venue to like 150 people and that was an amazing privilege to learn and see what works.
And finally, how would you sum up your show in just five words?
Giants. Dwarves. God. Silly. Boys.