Caro Meets Comedy Interview

Guilt & Shame: Going Straight

By | Published on Thursday 2 October 2014

Comic duo Guilt & Shame first caught our collective TW eye at the Edinburgh Fringe, when our reviewers were impressed by their dark and sometimes shocking sketch comedy style.

The pair, aka Robert Cawsey and Gabriel Bisset Smith, head to Soho Theatre this month for a run of their latest show ‘Going Straight’. To find out more about the show – and them – I called them in for questioning.

CM: May we start at the beginning? How did you two meet, and what made you want to work together?
Rob: We’d spent a lot of time partying together over the years. I had been doing sketch comedy in Edinburgh for a few years and Gabe had been writing plays. We thought as we’d been spending so much time trying to make people in our social groups laugh we’d try to make money out of it. Where is this money?!!
Gabe: Rob was this gay guy with lots of hot female friends that I wanted to sleep with so I started hanging around him. I drove the females away so now it’s just me and him. Gutted.

CM: You both appear to have fairly theatrical backgrounds, yet this show is described as sketch comedy – does the show have a narrative thrust? How are the sketches connected?
Rob: Every one of our shows has a narrative. Neither of us have ever found sketch comedy with unrelated sketches very engaging. All the sketches are connected to the central theme and drive the narrative forward. It was the coming together of our backgrounds in sketch comedy and playwriting that created this style.
Gabe: I have no time for disjointed sketch comedy. Just go on YouTube. I can’t sit through a whole show of it. Our show has a heavy narrative but also the wham bam comedy of a sketch show.

CM: Can you tell us a bit more about ‘Going Straight’ – what kind of situations and characters can we expect from the show?
Rob: One of the things we’ve always found interesting is that one of us is straight and the other gay. It’s always played a big part in informing what we do. In this show Gabe has started a ‘cult religion’ based on the teachings of the ‘ultimate real man’ Jeremy Clarkson. And the show is also about him trying to turn me straight. Other situations include a depressed Tom Cruise and PIME (pornographic mime).
Gabe: Yeah the show is about what is it to be a modern man, and how our perceptions of sexuality affect that. It also has a giant vagina dance for the ladies.

CM: Does the show have any topical themes, or serious points to make…?
Rob: It has lots of topical elements and references. It’s topical in terms of how ‘being a man’ is viewed in our society with references to the many religious cults and religions who don’t accept gay people and seek to convert them back to ‘normal’.
Gabe: Yeah, we’ve got some big issues in there, but it’s really funny. Promise.

CM: You’ve both worked in TV and film, haven’t you? How does this compare to your live performances? Which is more exciting?
Rob: There is something I will always love about the excitement of live performance that working in TV or film doesn’t have. The experience of the show happening right here, right now, with a different group of people watching every time. Both are so different but nothing excites me more than live performance.
Gabe: I fucking hate it. Can someone just put me in a movie please?

CM: What will happen to this show after the Soho run? Is it likely to tour or make a comeback…?
Rob: After Edinburgh, the festivals and this run at the Soho we will probably not want to do the show or see each other ever again. We’ll see what offers we get…
Gabe: Fuck I hope not.

CM: What future plans do you have as a duo?
Rob: We’re never really sure. We kind of take it as it comes and see what happens.
Gabe: We’re actually performing at our mate’s wedding this weekend. Best gig yet.

CM: What individual projects do you have coming up?
Rob: Working on a TV comedy pilot. And I may need to have my foreskin removed later in the year, which is potentially a large project for all involved. Gabe ducked out of this one.
Gabe: I’m writing a couple of films for other people and a play. I’m also hoping to direct my own feature in the new year.

CM: Can you each tell us a guilty or shameful secret?
Rob: I’ve been crushing female hormones in the form of the contraceptive pill in Gabe’s food and drink over the last few years to mess with his head. That’s why he often comes across as the feminine one and me the more masculine.
Gabe: Shit. That explains my giant tits. Actually, thanks man!

‘Guilt & Shame: Going Straight’ is on at Soho Theatre from 9-11 then 16-18 Oct. See this page here for info and tickets.

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