Three sell-out fringe shows, a 2009 Edinburgh Comedy Award nomination and millions of hits on Youtube; just a handful of the successes critically acclaimed sketch group Idiots of Ants have achieved since forming in 2007. This month the foursome return with their brand new show ‘The Red Button’.
ThreeWeeks’ Georgia Sharp caught up with the Ants to chat about the festival, female attention and being upstaged by Gerard Butler.
GS: How are you planning to top last year’s success?
Ben: It’s been a challenge to better last year’s show and a struggle at times, but generally it’s been fun creating it and our preview shows have gone down well. We’ve decided to pare things down this year – simply lots of jokes and minimal props.
Elliot: If you saw our van you’d think differently though; there’s banana skins, whoopee cushions and all sorts absolutely everywhere!
GS: You were nominated for an Edinburgh Comedy Award last year, has that upped your profile?
Ben: For comedians, these awards are a bit like Voldemort – the awards that cannot be named, the holy grail of comedy! We dared to think it might happen one day. And it did!
Elliot: Well, we didn’t win did we?
Ben: I know, but it’s certainly helped to get more people to come and see our shows.
GS: Who are your comedy heroes?
Ben: Being sketch comedians, we have obvious heroes like The Pythons and John Cleese. He’s brilliant. No one swears like him.
Elliot: There are some awesome sketch groups around right now too, like The Penny Dreadfuls and Pappy’s.
GS: Do you ever get sick of each other?
Ben: On tour this year, we were in a tiny van driving round the country together, sharing everything. You couldn’t open your eyes without seeing one another.
Elliot: Andy head butted Jim and we had to go to the police station…
Ben: We argue intensely. Anyone who sees us bickering must think ‘oh dear, the Ants are over!’
GS: Do you get lots of female attention, being dashing, funny and successful?
Jim: [sighs and shakes his head sadly]
Ben: We used to when we were younger but we’re all old and fat now.
(At this point, Andy walks in, proclaiming himself as ‘the sexy one’.)
GS: What’s your hangover cure of choice during the Fringe?
Andy: Berocca’s good isn’t it? But we’re obviously too busy honing our bodies at the gym to ruin them with alcohol during the festival…
Elliot: We’re gonna be ripped!
Jim: We bench press each other. Eat raw eggs.
GS: Have you ever experienced any disasters onstage?
Ben: There was once a pizza oven in the middle of a venue which ruined the line of sight. You could actually look through the oven and see us performing through the flames. And Gerard Butler was swimming in a pool right outside which distracted everyone.
Andy: Even my sexiness couldn’t combat him that day.
Elliot: He was beautiful though, wasn’t he?
Jim: So beautiful.
GS: What do you do when you’re not in Edinburgh?
Jim: We’ve just done our first national tour and we’ve got lots of gigs lined up after Edinburgh.
Andy: And we have a regular comedy night which we run at the Islington Pleasance.
GS: Finally, tell us why people should come along and push your red button.
Elliot: You would’ve thought all the fun would’ve been had by now, but it definitely hasn’t!
Ben: We’re mixing simple, gag heavy sketches with much more visual stuff. It’s a step up.
Elliot: Oh yeah, and we have a live zebra and fifteen performing monkeys onstage this year… It’s a worthwhile £10 ticket.
Idiots Of Ants’ show ‘The Red Button’ was performed at the Pleasance Courtyard during Fringe 2010.