INTERVIEW: Foil, Arms and Hog | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Sean Finegan, Conor McKenna and Sean Flannagan – better known as Foil, Arms and Hog – met at university and decided to form a comedy group with one of the most convoluted stage names in history. Since then, they’ve become Ireland’s premier sketch comedy group, mixing fast-paced scenes and twisted characters with high-energy performances. It’s a combo that’s seen them perform around the world, gain millions of YouTube fans and gain the likes of John Bishop and Rowan Atkinson as fans.

Ahead of their gig at The Stand on Monday, I talked to the comedians about the secret to their success, the differences between their audiences and who’d win in a Connect 4 Death Match between Jason Byrne and Craig Doyle.

You’ve been described as having, “…cheeky charm, boundless energy, effortless charisma, infectious enthusiasm and pure talent,” and that’s not even off your mother.  What’s the secret to your success?

We have a staff of over 200 children writing sketches for us round the clock. One Sketch = One Meal. It’s pretty effective.

You’ve played the USA and Australia; what are the main differences between those audiences?

Hard to know. We only played Adelaide in Australia, in a nightclub during the day, where the audience sat on plastic garden furniture and we performed on a stage amidst glittering disco balls….That’s a very specific gig. The shows in the US were lovely; the Americans love the Irish, and we may have exaggerated our accents to milk that… “Oh begorrah, tanks to bejaysus fer cumin to de comedy show we luv Amerddica so we do.”

And any differences between the UK and Irish punters?

The Irish tour was great for us this year as we have developed a good following. The shows were packed with punters who knew what expect from us. It was great craic. The UK audiences have been varied for us so far; in Southend we had a roudy stag party, in Whitby they were old and posh and in Warwick they were teenagers! Our YouTube videos have a wide audience demographic… generally, though, the UK punters queue in an orderly fashion and the men wear nice pullovers. Also, if the Brits like the show they’ll say nice and direct things on the way out like “that was tremendous fun.” If the Irish like it they’ll say “that was shite” with a cheeky grin.

“the UK punters queue in an orderly fashion and the men wear nice pullovers”

What do you find the major differences between radio, TV and live shows?

At live shows, you can very clearly tell when something you’ve said is or isn’t funny, as the people sitting just five metres away from you are either laughing or staring into their pints. With TV and radio, you never know! Live shows are the most rewarding though; doing a gig to 1000 people is way more fun than any video with 1000 hits.

Does your comedy lend itself more to one medium than the others?

Yes, morse code is where we really shine. Our best loved sketch is the classic:  -../… . / -. . – / .–. . — /.–. .-../

Do you still enjoy the Fringe? Or is it a necessary evil?

There’s nothing like the Fringe; it has such an unique atmosphere filled with colour, booze and penniless artists. What we hate is spending all summer grafting out new jokes while our friends play outside in the rain.

Jason Byrne or Craig Doyle – who’s the best at Connect 4?

I reckon Jason would be. He’d lull Craig into a false sense of security by being silly and limby.

Foil, Arms and Hog perform at The Stand, Newcastle on Monday 18th May.

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