On 18th August 2010 this article appeared on The Guardian website. The following is our response.
We don’t normally comment on people’s opinions of our work. We are generally just happy people have seen the show and responded. Positive or negative, for us, live performance is about response and audience reaction.
However, in this case we need to make an exception. Not because we are in anyway annoyed that you didn’t find the show funny (we are a little upset that our complexions weren’t up to scratch, but that’s beside the point). However there is the implication that we are, at worst, glorifying sexual assault or child abuse, and at best, not bothered. This could not be further from the truth.
We think very carefully about what we put on stage. What social conventions are we challenging? How are we asking the audience to look at and challenge themselves? If art is about providing insight into the human condition, then comedy is about doing this through (often involuntarily) laughter.
Our work steers clear of “the middle ground”. We try to make work that is either very silly or very dark. Light observation and “Do you remember when...” are not to our taste or strength. The audience reaction is often intellectual or sentimental – these are not particularly active responses. We like an audience to respond from the heart and then process this. We like causing strong reactions. It is what live performance does best; this is why we do it and watch it.
When we are dealing with the darker sketches in rehearsal we really challenge each other as to who is the victim of the joke. Many of these pieces we have been working on for a year, trying them with audiences and talking to them. These are not gleeful, poorly thought out horror gags.
The second part of the mentioned Sleeping Beauty sketch is very simply a picture of the horrors of sexual assault and is designed to challenge the laugh at the end of the first one. The laugh / groan this gets indicates the audiences’ self-awareness in this moment and the sketch that references child abuse is an extreme moment, but we then acknowledge the fact there is a “line” by announcing it on the screen and punishing the performers immediately.
The one sketch with semen in it is very simply a pun and falls into the silly category. This laugh may well relate to porn’s increased viewing figures, but we doubt that laughs relating to sexual assault and child abuse have anything to do with internet porn. These were both issues in society and the public consciousness long before we were born and not most people’s standard porn fare.
Sorry you didn’t like the show, but I hope you credit us with the intelligence and responsibility we take upon ourselves as artists and comedians.
Thank you for coming.
And thank you for writing about us.
David, Lee, Matt, Matt, Paul, Richard and Steve
Late Night Gimp Fight.