Rock-comedy legends PickUp are back at FRINGE WORLD with a mini-festival of their own. We had a chat with the duo, Alia Vryens and Colin Craig, about this run of shows and their performances in general.
Gutter Culture: You're bringing a host of shows to FRINGE WORLD this year, tell us about what's on offer.
PickUp: We’re doing a different show on each night of the week—we wanted to come and do something a bit crazy for this Fringe World.
Thursdays: we have Funny Music Thursdays. We’re inviting our favourite Fringe performers to come and do short performances that are funny and that use music in some way.
We run this night in Melbourne regularly. We’ve had some crazy interpretations, and it’s been a heap of fun. Last year Sammy J came and performed with us—so you never know who will turn up here in Perth! It’s always a bit of a party.
Fridays: we have Sex Music Mix Tape. This is a completely new experiment where we’re getting Fringe performers to join us in telling true sex stories from their lives while sharing the music that they like (or have liked) to have sex to.
This night is not for the faint-hearted. Last week we had stories involving someone’s partner eating someone else’s cum out of their mouth, while playing Ave Maria.
Saturdays: we have Nerds are Sexy. This is our completely brand new comedy music show, starring us— PickUp—with all new songs about why Nerds are the best (and the sexiest). Heaps of pop-culture and gaming references, and lots of rock.
Sundays: we have Jackbox Party Pack. Once again, we’re inviting a bunch of different comedians from around Fringe to come and play a game with us, live on stage. For anyone who hasn’t played, it’s kind of like Cards Against Humanity, but digital on a big screen, and the audience gets to log in and vote for who’s the funniest. Some of the audience also get to play too. Last week, the audience player was the champion and scored a free pint for being more funny than the ‘professionals’.
GC: What would you say is the most, or nearest to, uniting theme that runs through each of the shows?
PU: All of our shows are celebrating something - music, or games, or nerds, or sex.
We’re always sex-positive and inclusive, and when we’re talking about nerds, we love them. We’re never kicking down at people. We have a joy for the things we love, and we love sharing that with other people.
We always play music in our shows—even in Jackbox Party Pack we get the audience up and playing along to a particular music-sex-themed game. So everything kind of bleeds into each other but, at the same time, each show is completely unique.
GC: Any advice for people trying to choose between one or another of your shows this Fringe?
PU: If you want to be interactive, and you like funny games, come to Jackbox Party Pack. This is a chance to be involved in the action without having to get dragged up on stage.
If you want a taster of different performers at Fringe, come to Funny Music Thursdays. This is a mix of cabaret, burlesque and comedy, with your favourite FRINGE WORLD performers showing you their best bits.
If you’re interested in the gory details of someone’s sex life, and like hearing about the real, visceral, hilarious things that we’re all getting up to, then Sex Music Mix Tape is for you. SMMT is also great for people who like listening to old Hottest 100 CDs.
If you’re an out-and-proud nerd and you love all things pop-culture and gaming, debating with your friends about who would win in a fight between Hulk and Spider-Man, playing DnD and trying to balance the party just right then Nerds are Sexy is for you.
GC: Your work deals with sexuality, gender, feminism, and issues including heteronormativity amongst a number of other themes that tap into societal norms. Tell us about what inspired you to take these things on as a musical duo.
PU: Funnily enough, we’re not ‘inspired’ to deal with all of those things. We were inspired to make comedy. But we also care a fuck-tonne about making sure that we’re not being assholes while we’re being funny. Those themes in our work come out as a result.
Sex is funny and stupid and silly—but you can’t talk about that on many levels without acknowledging gender and heteronormativity and the whole bunch. We’re not TRYING to be inclusive, we’re trying to be funny. But we ARE inclusive.
Both of us have always had a keen interest in sex and the ins and outs of how it happens. We have both grown up loving Australian Music Comedy and eventually, over a pint, we smashed those two ideas together and came up with the basis of PickUp.
We—as a cis female and cis male—are trying to combine our privilege, our passion and our empathy to make something new.
Here’s the academic answer: Satire’s role has always been to take the parts of society which are scary, confronting and problematic and reduce them to something simple and silly that we can all laugh at and then deal with more easily. The role of comedy is to make us laugh at those things that aren’t quite right so that we can more easily confront them.
GC: What has been your favourite moment amongst all the shows you've performed?
PU: Honestly, our favourite moment happened literally a couple of nights ago when we debuted Nerds are Sexy here in Perth.
We were so anxious about showing off our new songs, and we really didn’t know how things were going to go down. But, a huge group of happy nerds walked in and created this incredible vibe in the room. They were so excited to see what we’d made, and were so welcoming, and we felt a real genuine connection with them.
We could hear little comments all throughout the show at the tiny details—one person reminiscing about hearing the sound of an old school modem for the first time in years, or a little group having a little conversation comparing which Final Fantasy’s they’d played.
One particular moment that night was when one guy left the room during the show to get himself and his friends a beer and, when he came back, decided to donate it to us instead of having it himself (after some coaxing). But that wasn’t the best bit... The BEST bit was that he then went to get himself another beer, and we asked the audience to give him a round of applause when he came back. As soon as he stepped back into the room, the whole audience went wild—clapping and cheering and going crazy. It was just the best feeling of community and fun and… the whole thing was nuts.
GC: What do you hope for audiences to take from seeing one of your shows this year?
PU: Joy. The feeling of being part of something. The feeling that their experiences are shared. Confirmation that they’re not alone.
Fun. Silliness en masse. A lighter attitude towards sex and sexuality. A feeling that they’ve seen something unique—a real Fringe experience. Something different. Confidence and empowerment for who they are, and the people that they’re with.
GC: Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?
PU: It’s okay to love what you love. You’re awesome.
If you’re unsure if our shows are for you, then go listen to our album. It’s easily available online and it gives a good taste of what we’re about for very little investment of time or money.
This Fringe festival is massive and there’s so much stuff happening. For every polished, big schmick show you see, go see a little one and take a risk. Worst comes to worst you’ll have something to bitch about for the next couple of weeks, and that’s still pretty fun.
PickUp: Sex is Funny runs from 7-10 and 14-16 February at Fair Ground at ibis Perth. Get tickets here.