ED2016 Comedy ED2016 Interviews ED2016 Week1 Edition

Goodbear: Sketching out your Fringe day

By | Published on Tuesday 9 August 2016


Having met while both sketching with the Leeds Tealights, Joe Barnes and Henry Perryment arrived at the Fringe as sketch comedy duo Goodbear for the first time last year.
They return this Festival at the Bedlam Theatre with a show full of rather strange characters living their lives during one single day. We spoke to both Joe and Henry to find out more.

CC: So let’s start at the very start. How did you guys come to form Goodbear?
Joe: We met about five years ago at Leeds University where we were both members of sketch group the Leeds Tealights.
Henry: We had really similar tastes in comedy, theatre and film, and similar ideas about the kind of things we wanted to make. So once we had graduated we grabbed each other and decided to put together a double act. And so Goodbear began!

CC: Tell us about the new show.
Joe: It’s a character-led sketch comedy show about a selection of really quite strange characters doing stuff all around the world on a single day.
Henry: Oh God it’s a lot of fun. I’ve seen it so many times.

CC: So everything happens on a single day. Which day? And why that concept?
Joe: Each show is set on the date the audience actually sees it. We then look at what people get up to on that one day, however significant or however mundane.
Henry: The concept was appealing because it seemed like a really simple way to present a load of characters whilst giving the show some kind of through-line, and something for the audience to hold onto.

CC: The blurb says the show “asks big questions”. What sorts of questions?
Joe: We’re looking at how important a single day can be for any one person, and at what the most important thing is about how we spend any one day… you know, classic sketch comedy stuff…
Henry: Posing big broad questions in our shows has become a bit of a Goodbear thaaang. Last year’s show was about the concept of death and how we deal with that. We’ve gone with the opposite this year and tried to create a show which celebrates everyday life. We don’t necessarily answer these questions, but it helps create the tone of the show.

CC: Last year was your first year at the Fringe as Goodbear. How did it go?
Joe: We had a lovely time last year. People came and laughed and we’re still friends, so thank God for that!
Henry: It was really good fun! And it was massively useful in figuring out whether our style worked and how to hone it. It was a real learning curve. And we had a laugh!

CC: How does this year’s show compare? Did you do anything differently?
Joe: It’s a completely new show so content wise it’s very different. Tonally, though, we’ve tried to keep that ‘heartwarming’ pay-off at the end, which people seemed to like. So hopefully those who come back will like it!
Henry: We didn’t try to change what we were doing too much. Just do it better. Coz we wanna get betta at doin stuff, innit.

CC: Between the two of you, you have also done theatre stuff, stand-up and performed in other sketch groups. How does all that influence the writing and the performing in Goodbear?
Henry: It hugely influences Goodbear. I like the idea that some people walk out of the show not wanting to box us into the sketch comedy genre. We’re massively influenced by theatre, music – all the music we use is originally composed by my brother Max – and film. So all those things come into play when writing a new show.
Joe: To be honest, I’m influenced by quite literally everything I see!

CC: What other sketch groups old and new influence your work?
Henry: When we first decided to buddy up we both went to see Pajama Men at the Arts Theatre in London. Seeing that show was a real game changer. It was atmospheric, funny, heartwarming, and exactly the sort of feeling we wanted to nail down.
Joe: As well as watching a couple of sweaty blokes do silly voices and faces for an hour!

CC: You were at Underbelly last year, but are taking to the Bedlam stage this year. Improverts aside, Bedlam is probably better known for its theatre programme. What drew you to the venue?
Henry: The Bedlam seems to be really suiting our show so far. Though we had such a great time at Underbelly last year. I suppose with the way the show developed this year we felt that it would suit the Bedlam stage best.
Joe: Our show’s massively influenced by theatre so it made a lot of sense to perform there. That big stage and all the lighting mean you can create a real sense of atmosphere too.
Henry: There’s comfy seats and cheap beers as well, if anyone’s wondering…

CC: What are your future plans for this new show, and all things Goodbear?
Joe: We’d love to get as many nice faces in the crowd as possible. That would just be lovely.
Henry: Do it here at the Fringe. Hope people enjoy watching it… then see what happens!

Goodbear performed at Bedlam Theatre at Edinburgh Festival 2016.

Photo by David P Scott