Scott: My show’s about my mother who was my best friend and my coke dealer. She sold me cocaine when I was eighteen. Which sounds rude – she could’ve given me a bump, but raising kids is expensive when you’re on your own. I’m not saying that all single mothers should become cocaine dealers, but if teen obesity is such a problem then giving them speed solves everything. I think my mother was more an entrepreneur than illicit or illegal and she did a bit of coke herself which probably wasn’t a good idea because she ended up with advanced lung disease. Advanced? Sounds like a compliment, doesn’t it? So that’s kind of what killed her in the end. She just stopped breathing.
And why did you choose such a dark and emotional subject?
Scott: I didn’t know how else to talk about that kind of experience other than in a comedic way. So it’s kind of a show I sort of have to do. And the audience has to listen whether they want to or not. Because I’ve got the microphone, so I win every argument.
So it’s more a form of sadism?
Scott: It is, yeah. ’Cuz I’m gay, the audience are bound and gagged by their guilt. They feel they have to stay because I’m old and clearly near death.
Andrew: My show’s called Andrew Doyle’s Crash Course in Depravity. The title is a direct quotation from a review I received last year. It had never occurred to me that I was depraved, so I thought I’d look into it. So part of my show is about looking back at my own life and working out where this supposed “depravity” came from. I mean, I was beaten with a stick at the age of four by a broad-shouldered nun who spat profusely whenever she was reciting the rosary in school assemblies. She had suspiciously powerful wrists for a bride of Christ. And she had a glass eye, which meant that you could never be sure of who she was shouting at. And she shouted a lot. I suppose being stuck in a convent all day with twenty other frustrated women whose only outlet is amateur billiards must be quite a difficult life. In those circumstances, hitting a small child is probably quite therapeutic. In any case, if I do have any psychosexual problems that’s bound to be the source.
I know that both of you have had heckling and walkouts because people have been offended.
Andrew: I had a verbal death threat after a show by three young guys dressed as West African pimps. My instinct was to laugh, but that probably would have made it worse.
Scott: Audiences are cunts. They don’t want to be challenged. I don’t know why people go to comedy clubs. But if they must go, I don’t know why they choose that night to be offended. I mean, if you go to a comedy club you’re already a cunt because you cannot entertain yourself. And if you go and you’re offended then you should just start your day by shooting yourself in the back of your own pumpkin head at sunrise ’cuz it’s only going to get fucking worse. The thing is if people are willing to laugh at themselves it makes them a lot more popular. I don’t take it personally – if you want to leave my show, do it. But ideally I want people to stay so I can chip away at their self-esteem, to make them feel bad about what they’re laughing at. Like that straight guy I dragged home – well, straight to bed – and I fucked his mouth and came down his throat and he gulped “that’s a first”. That’s how I want the audience to feel. It’s the least I can do for them.
Scott: Why should it? That’s the beauty of live performance, that’s the risk every time, you never know what to expect. You could go and see a play in the West End and be offended by that. You could go and see some Derek Jacobi piece of shit where he minces around on stage, wobbly and bloated and getting his shaved testicles out, but who wants to see that? With Facebook, and Youtube and all this bullshit on line, you have no excuse now if you’re offended and want to leave. You should have looked the comic up. We’re all online. So don’t bitch about it if I talk about Madeline McCann. Some little girl gets killed by her parents and suddenly I get blamed just because I mention it on a comedy stage.
Andrew: In some sense it’s surprising that people still get offended. You would have thought by 2011 the boundaries would’ve all been obliterated. But maybe they haven’t, and maybe that’s because stand-up has become more televisual. More anaesthetised. I don’t set out to shock at all in my act, but when you choose depravity as your subject it’s difficult not to delve into some fairly dark areas.
Do you think there’s such a thing as “gay comedy”?
Andrew: I think there’s still a sense in which if you’re a gay comedian it helps if you’re camp and you rely on a lot of double entendres. That’s still what a lot of audiences expect. I’ve had audience members talking to me after shows who don’t believe I’m gay. Don’t get me wrong – I love Kenneth Williams and the whole “ooh Matron” brand of comedy, but that’s not what I want to be. I don’t think I could be that if I tried. And it’s good to see more and more gay comics on the circuit for whom their sexuality isn’t their primary focus. People like Paul Sinha, or Paul Foot.
Scott: They don’t believe you’re gay? Are they from under a rock?
Scott: I think that comedy is by nature an effeminate response. Because it’s verbal. It’s not a physical response to an aggressive situation. But gay men on stage in this country are nothing new. I think the difference, with someone like Andrew or me, is that we’re not apologetic.
What made you want to become a stand-up?
Andrew: I’m self-hating. And I’m an attention-seeker. And I need validation from strangers. Although more than anything I actually love performing. I love the fact that each show is totally unpredictable, and that so much depends on how the audience takes it. It’s the only art form where hostility from the audience is expected, which is really exciting. Audience members at the National Theatre don’t shout out insults. Although based on some of the productions I’ve seen there recently maybe they should. One thing’s for certain, I didn’t get into stand-up for the money. It would be alright if I was performing at the O2 arena, or if I had a DVD deal. But who wants that? A damp attic above a pub in Yeovil is just as impressive.
Scott: I think that half hour or twenty minutes we have on stage is a really beautiful thing. And I think to ruin it by trying to make money out of it is like a Working Men’s Club with good lighting. Young people today see stand-up as a career choice, like Law, or Medicine, now that there’s a living to be made. It’s a bit delusional, but it’s truer now than it used to be. Yes, you can make a living. Yes, there is enough work.
Really? Isn’t the circuit a bit saturated?
Scott: Well, yes. It’s saturated with mediocrity which is what killed comedy in the US. For a long time comedy was rock n’ roll over there, in the late eighties / early nineties (when I started), it was huge, and then the clubs started closing. For one reason, because people started drinking less, which will never happen here. People’s homes in Britain are far too small to entertain, so they have to go out to a pub. But also they started putting any cunt on stage and the quality of shows became less and less.
So do you think that’s happening here?
Scott: I’m not sure how some comics get out of bed in the mornings. I’m not sure how they memorise their material. So much of it is so rambling, blah blah fucking blah, and I’m left thinking “what is your point? Why are you here? Why do we pay to watch this?” I mean if you’re up on stage purely to entertain – someone like Chris Neill or Sean Meo, both of whom are amazingly creative – that’s great. But if you’re some idiot 24-year-old with eye make-up on who’s just making fun of how fucking ugly he is, I don’t know. It’s just not enough for me.
Scott: I remember when I first came here in 1994. I’d just broken up with my boyfriend because I knew I was coming here for the festival and I just loved kilts. I had such expectations, and when I got here I realised that the gay scene was just beyond disastrous. It seemed like something out of a 1950s horror movie.
Andrew: I quite like it. There’s something about CC Bloom’s, with the tacky tunes and the sticky floor, it’s somehow endearing. And the demographic is so peculiar. You get these skinny, mincing, narcissistic queens mingling with bedraggled, toothless older guys who look like they’ve just stepped off the set of Last of the Summer Wine. And of course plenty of straight women who want a night out without being harassed. It’s a bit of a mess, but there’s real character there. And I like the other clubs too: Planet, Newtown Bar, GHQ, Calton Hill – oh wait, that’s not a club, is it?
Scott, you’re directing Andrew’s Edinburgh show this year. What made you want to do that?
Scott: I was tempted because I like the idea of depravity and how people tend to avoid it in comedy, when actually comedy itself is so depraved. To make fun of desperate situations, if you’re good at it, is genius. But it’s also still very tense, you know? And it makes people uncomfortable, but you can use that to your benefit I think. But also I like the creative process. For me oftentimes rehearsal is more interesting than performance.
Is this the first time you’ve collaborated?
Andrew: I’ve been a guest on Scott’s chat show in London, Scott Capurro’s Position, and I will be again during the fringe run. I also helped him make a green salad once before a dinner party. Well, I rinsed a few leaves.
Scott: I host the show with another American comic called David Mills. We’ve been doing it for three years now at the Vauxhall Tavern. We just put a list together of celebrities we’d like to meet, and we call them all, and some of them actually say yes. It’s been kind of great that way. And it’s a different type of performance. It’s much more relaxed for me.
Andrew: I really like the combination of you and David. It works really well.
Scott: Stop talking. David’s hilarious. There’s something about him that is so fresh and unusual. I love working with him.
Scott, why is your show called Who Are The Jocks?
Andrew: It sounds like you’re having a go at the Scottish.
Scott: I was only recently made aware, by a drunk inbred heckling during a preview, that ‘Jocks’ meant ‘Scots’ in the UK. Or so he said. Might be true, but the Scottish say a lot of shit, and anyway who can tolerate or even dissect the Scottish accent? In their plaid drawl, ‘jocks’ sounds like ‘cunts’. In fact, every word in Scotland, including their “varied” “food” menu items, sound like ‘cunts’. But aren’t the ginger retards the first to admit they’re cunts, affectionately, and the first to be proud of their fat asses, bragging they’d never exercise, not even their rights? Since the Scottish are, per capita, devolving into the fattest country in the developed world, I’m re-owning the word ‘Jock’. I’m taking it away from them, and until they drop a few stones and circumcise themselves and stop forcing their head cheese down my throat, they are now to only be referred to as ‘cows’. ‘Jocks’ has to be earned.
Andrew: Well, that certainly touched a nerve.
Scott: Am I just an old drunk gay uncle that everyone wishes would shut the fuck up or die of gay flu or whatever?
Andrew: I suggest you find Christ.
Scott: He’s under the banquet table, scooping up lost earrings. What a scrounger.