Cabaret Interview Caro Meets Comedy Interview

Slightly Fat Features: VarietySoup

By | Published on Thursday 8 June 2017

We first came across Slightly Fat Features, a seven-strong variety troupe, up at the Edinburgh Festival back in 2013 and were most impressed by their infectiously entertaining and comedic offerings.

When I heard they were headed for a date with the Udderbelly Festival, I decided it was time to find out more about this talented group of performers.

CM: Start by telling us all about your upcoming show in London. What can audiences expect? How would you describe the format?
SFF: Well, we are bringing our award winning show back to London for a one off special on the Southbank. It’s a riotous variety show for the 21st century; an off the wall comedy cabaret for all ages shapes and sizes. Circus, magic, comedy and live music.

We aim to stuff so much into the show that by the time you catch your breath the next thing has already started. Tiger taming illusionists, bullet catching dogs, cling-film escapology and many weird and wonderful surprises.

CM: Can you tell us a bit about each member of your troupe?
SFF: We are an eclectic group of seven, all sharing the joint goal of making you laugh and gasp like never before.

We are:

Goronwy Thom (pronounced Go-ron-wee), the host of the show guiding audiences through the controlled chaos.

Robert Lee is the master of the live original music, playing multiple instruments throughout the show.

Matt Barnard, keeps control of the rhythm of the music and of the jokes. Funny and skilled, what more do you want?

Gareth Jones, escapologist extraordinaire, will amaze and amuse with his stunning stunts and hilarious routines.

Richard Garaghty- the man of many faces. Skills galore and the face to go with it.

Multi talented Jon Hicks, the adult prodigy. The Dr Doolittle of the troupe, taming elephants and dogs amongst others!

Herbie Treehead, the strangest name in show business, the wildest hair and with a charming infectious energy.

CM: How did you all meet and what made you decide to work together like this?
SFF: A lot of us knew each other from working at Covent Garden as street performers in the late 90s. Goronwy started a cabaret night in a theatre when he moved to Devon, and called his friends for a night of cabaret and fun.

The show was huge fun, and the audience seemed to like it too. So over time, more shows were produced and the same seven of us kept on turning up for the shows to try out new stuff and to keep having a great night on stage. We all loved doing the shows together, so in 2010 Slightly Fat Features were officially born, and we started performing the show at The Roundhouse and then continued across the world. We have created several shows and this one ‘VarietySoup’ at Southbank this weekend is the one we have done the most and had the most success with, including winning awards at Just for Laughs in Montreal.

CM: How do you find people respond to the variety format?
SFF: When they see our show live, the response from people is almost always hugely positive. Audiences of all types really seem to love it. We often stand out front after shows to say goodbye to audiences – it’s lovely to see people so pleased and uplifted by the shows. What’s great about variety as a format is that if you don’t like what’s on stage in that moment, there will be something else in a few minutes!

Sometimes it seems hard to get people to commit to seeing a variety show, some people seem to have preconceptions about the style of show they expect. All I can say is that our show truly has to be seen live to be appreciated – and I honestly don’t think there is anything else like us around.

CM: Who is the show aimed at? Is it suitable for a family audience?
SFF: We always say that the show is suitable for all ages – it is very much family friendly. It is suitable for kids yes, but it isn’t a kids show.

We really do aim to give something for everybody. We often have several generations of the same family enjoying the same routine for many different reasons and on many levels. We hope if it’s funny, then it’s funny for everybody.

CM: What do you all do when you are not doing this?
SFF: We all work as solo artists and in double acts touring the world as jugglers, comedians, musicians, actors, speed painters, unicyclists, escapologists and everything in between. We have all been professional artists for many years and love coming together as one mad group.

CM: What’s the plan for the future? Will you keep going indefinitely?
SFF: Well, good question! It’s hard to know what the future holds. The main plan for the future is to get a crowd in London on Sunday and give them a fun and uplifting time.

In terms of carrying on doing it – well, if we all want to do it and audiences want to watch, then I think it is hard to say we will stop. As a touring group it is not always easy to sustain consistently all the time but we tend to have periods when we develop new material and then tour it.

We hope we will carry it on for as long as we all enjoy doing the shows as much as we do now and each other’s company. Who knows, variety might become cool again at some point, and we will be at the forefront of it!

CM: What’s next, after the London date?
SFF: We are appearing on ‘Sunday Night at The London Palladium’ later in June and then taking a new show up to York for the Great Yorkshire Fringe in July, and then touring ‘The Slightly Fat Show’ in the autumn, finishing back in London at The Leicester Square Theatre for six shows from the 20th- 23rd December.

Slightly Fat Features perform in ‘VarietySoup’ on 11 June 2017 at Underbelly festival, see this page here to book your tickets

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