Simon Plotkin of Off the Cuff, and Dougie Walker of all sorts of things, caught up for some mutual interviewing action.
Simon Plotkin interviews Dougie Walker
So, Dougie – I can call you Dougie can’t I? (This is a rhetorical question and an answer is not required.) Since you left Off the Cuff, running wildly into the woods shedding clothing left right and centre, no one’s heard head nor tail of you; what have you been up to and what lessons have you learned?
I left Brighton, as we all must one day, whether it be to wander this world or finally rest on Heaven’s golden shore, and went to Oxford. Here I joined the Oxford Imps. One thing led to another, as physics and Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason assures us it necessarily must, and I ended up in another improv troupe called Racing Minds. Recently I did my first solo sketch show at the Edinburgh Fringe. It was called Möglich, which is a very unusual title I suppose. I’ve learned that there is more than one way to be funny, and none of those ways involving skinning cats.
Your show Möglich has a very ‘unusual’ title. Quite odd, so it is. What does this word mean and are there any other words you are duty-bound to define so your ‘average man on the street’ can enjoy the show without unnecessary confusion?
Möglich is German for “possible”. Suggested reading for full enjoyment of the show is Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, the collected works of Carl Sagan and Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant. Rubescent means “becoming red.”
Discovered any new drinks lately?
Try adding a dash of stout to your White Russian. I think you’ll enjoy it.
Baby if I told you the right words, ooh at the right time, would you be mine?
There is a certain sense of the word “right” which renders this question tautological; the answer must be yes if we understand the “right” words and the “right” time to be those words and that time at which the utterance of those words would make me yours. Those time and words would be the “right” ones for your purpose. Whether such time and words exist is another question, however.
In improvised comedy plucky performers spin off skits from mere one word audience suggestions, whereas in interviews the interviewer writes questions in proper sentences. I’m going to turn this tradition on its head by giving you just a one word suggestion for your next answer. That word is ‘billowing’.
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, I think. I’m reading it at the moment. It’s very good.
Dougie Walker interviews Simon Plotkin
You perform improvised comedy with Off the Cuff, but you also do Standing Up comedy, some of which you will implement at this 10th Anniversary All-Dayer. Which do you prefer? Or, if you prefer a less idiotic question, what do you enjoy and despise about each?
I prefer the idiotic question. Of course I have a favourite but I’m not going to say because I’d be a parent forced to choose between their children; I’m not going to say which one is my favourite because they’ll both get behavioural disorders. Other question: for improv I like working with others to create something that surprises and delights all involved, and I despise that as an artform it is treated with suspicion and fear by da haterz; for stand up I like when it goes well and you feel like some sort of golden god of humour and I despise when it goes badly and you feel like a worm.
In order to perform, an improvised comedian relies on contributions from the audience, like a beggar. What have been your favourite audience suggestions over the years?
Gee whizz, all them suggestions just fly out my pretty little head once the show is over. Seriously I can barely remember a thing. I think someone suggested we set a scene in a Japanese techno well, but that may have been in rehearsal and that might have been me.
“Origins of man take sides to help preserve.” Nine letters. Any thoughts?
Nietzsche. What a Nietzsche (niche) question.
You had a famous, long-running celebrity beef with Tony Benn up until his death in 2014. What was that about and how do you feel about it now?
Benn said that I stole my patented ‘pipe and wisdom’ look from him. I say we developed it independently as mum wouldn’t let me watch anyone left-wing on TV and I only moved out her house last June. Feel about it now? Let’s just say that my current pipe du jour came from a certain grave of a certain politician if you know what I mean. Seriously I hate his guts.
Can you explain in exactly 29 words what is good about comedy?