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Best boy gets branded in name a punchline

By | Published on Monday 10 August 2015

Best Boy

Doing a Fringe show can be very demanding for performers.

Getting on stage at least once a day, every day, for a whole month, in amongst the constant strain of flyering in the rain, while carting props and publicity materials up and down Edinburgh’s steepest cobbled pathways, not to mention the somehow compulsory late night drinking, can all have quite an impact on your physical health, your mental well-being and, if nothing else, your bank balance. But that’s what September is for. Detox. Stress relief. Frugal living.

Though one of the demands met by Dan Smith of sketch double act Best Boy will be with him for somewhat longer than that, he having turned himself into a prop for their show ‘Bested’ by having a prominent image tattooed onto his back. “The tattoo plays a big part in one of our sketches” Smith told ThreeWeeks. “It’s a big reveal, almost like a punchline that’s gone a bit too far. The ridiculousness of getting something permanently branded on your skin for a joke seems like a pretty good way of getting a reaction out of people too”.

So why a tattoo and not something simpler, or at least less permanent? “We did draw it on with a marker pen each time for about six months” he says of the image that provides the punchline to the sketch in question, “but as it’s on my back Charlie [Mizon, his partner in crime] had to draw it and he’s really bad at drawing. Also, I’ve ruined so many t-shirts that are now stained with pen ink, so an actual tattoo just seemed like the most sensible thing to do. And while drawing it on did still give the sketch a ridiculous ending, actually tattooing it adds a little bit of disbelief for the audience, as they wonder who in their right mind would go that far just to get a laugh”.

Who indeed. Though at least the tattooing itself went off without much incident. “We asked the tattoo artist how long she’d been doing it for, and she said just two weeks. Which kind of freaked me out. But it turned out she meant she’d been doing it in London for just two weeks, and had eight years experience under her belt. So it wasn’t too traumatic. Charlie only had to hold my hand once”.

Now it’s on there, has the thought of being branded for life concerned him at all? “It’s our first Fringe, so having something like a tattoo to mark it is actually quite nice. At least it’s got a good story behind it, rather than it just being a tattoo for the sake of a tattoo. Of course if we have an awful Fringe then it’s going to be an terrible macabre reminder of all that, and then I might want to get laser surgery, or go on ‘Tattoo Fixers’ on Channel 4. But fortunately the show has been going well so far”.

Of course one solution would be to just make every future show he and Mizon write incorporate the tattoo. “We could look at it like that” he says, “or we could say that I’ve now set a terrible precedent and have to get a new tattoo for each new show that we do. Charlie’s got some horrific ideas already, mainly involving my face. But we are getting a lot of use out of it. Whenever we do a gig we now do this sketch, mainly to get value for money out of the tattoo, but also because I like showing it off; it makes me look well hard”.

‘Best Boy: Bested’ is on at Cowgatehead each day at 4.15pm. More at bestboycomedy.co.uk