Double, double, toil and trouble
January 28, 2018 6:20 AM   Subscribe

'Fame proved toxic for the relationship': when comedy double acts split
posted by fearfulsymmetry (33 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
I was 99% convinced this was going to be a post about Milli Vanilli. After clicking. I still am.
posted by Fizz at 6:22 AM on January 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Rather surprised they didn't talk to Fish and Cushion.
posted by kyrademon at 6:40 AM on January 28, 2018 [16 favorites]


Odd there’s no mention of Mitchell and Webb.
posted by rikschell at 6:46 AM on January 28, 2018 [17 favorites]


Oh, Fizz. Many a true word is spoken in jest.

Rob Pilatus.
posted by adept256 at 7:12 AM on January 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm still sad about John Oliver leaving the Bugle.
posted by beandip at 7:18 AM on January 28, 2018 [11 favorites]


Fry & Laurie Reunited.
posted by adept256 at 7:31 AM on January 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


I only knew Stewart Lee from his standup, which I love the shit out of, unequivocally. I'll havr to hunt down some of his stuff with Herring.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:56 AM on January 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Used to change the channel when they started (dunno why, maybe only because Star Trek was over). Think they worked with the then omnipresent Kevin Eldon so can't be all bad.
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 8:16 AM on January 28, 2018


"Think they worked with the then omnipresent The Actor Kevin Eldon so can't be all bad."

ftfy
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:26 AM on January 28, 2018 [6 favorites]


“Our producer, Sarah Smith, said, ‘It should be Herring and Lee, it sounds better,’” recalls Herring. “I said I didn’t care, but he wanted to be first. He said: ‘It has to be Lee and Herring.’”
"Lee and Herring" is so much better, because it sounds like a play on Lea & Perrins.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:51 AM on January 28, 2018 [10 favorites]


@beandip - I'm still sad about John Oliver leaving the Bugle.

Yeah. I was relieved to see that it was generally amicable. The post-Oliver Bugle is still great.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 9:04 AM on January 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


I'm still sad about John Oliver leaving the Bugle.

Me too.

But I have to say, I recently saw Zaltzman's live solo standup act in Toronto, and he was hilarious. He's got chops.

Also, in terms of The Bugle, I think Zalztman's been finding his feet again. I mean, it's difficult replacing what was a well-developed duo with excellent chemistry with a cast of rotating co-hosts, but I think he's finding a new groove in that format with some solid co-hosting choices. I like Nish Kumar and Hari Kondabolu, but the Bugle episodes with Alice Fraser in the co-host seat tend to be the best ones if I had to rate them. She's great.

But if anyone's wondering what the fuss is about with regard to the Zaltzman/Oliver duo and The Bugle of old, I suggest seeing if you can track down episode 99, entitled "Silvio Berlusconi Takes a Cathedral to the Face" or something fairly close to that.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:23 AM on January 28, 2018 [9 favorites]


the Bugle episodes with Alice Fraser in the co-host seat tend to be the best ones if I had to rate them. She's great.

I'm really enjoying Alice Fraser's Tea with Alice podcast. She talks with her guests about difficult ideas. I have a feeling many MeFites would enjoy it.
posted by Harpocrates at 9:33 AM on January 28, 2018


I like Nish Kumar and Hari Kondabolu

Hari is likely too busy with W. Kamau Bell and their Politically Re-Active Podcast. Which is one of my favourite comedy/political duos of the last few years.
posted by Fizz at 9:59 AM on January 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


it's a pity about Cat and Girl; I hadn't heard about that
posted by thelonius at 10:19 AM on January 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


I like Nish Kumar and Hari Kondabolu

Nish Kumar is great on the Mash Report.
posted by Pendragon at 10:39 AM on January 28, 2018


In most of the photos he took of professional partners—including Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein—[portraitist Philippe Halsman] found that each person jumped in a way that was “diametrically opposite to the jump of his partner”—and they all enjoyed long-lasting partnerships. In contrast, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, pictured in 1951, had jumps that were almost identical—and they broke up a few years later, in 1956.
posted by infinitewindow at 11:02 AM on January 28, 2018 [11 favorites]


this article didn't have anything on key and peele, so here are a couple of links
posted by eustatic at 11:41 AM on January 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


oh, and perhaps this episode of steven universe is relevant
posted by eustatic at 11:43 AM on January 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


I only knew Stewart Lee from his standup, which I love the shit out of, unequivocally. I'll havr to hunt down some of his stuff with Herring.

I love Lee & Herring. Probably the thing I'd recommend most is This Morning With Richard Not Judy. Fist of Fun is really good too, though each season is INCREDIBLY '90S in two different ways.

Herring's solo stuff honestly isn't quite as good as Lee's, but he's a remarkably good interviewer; I highly recommend his Leicester Square Theatre Podcast, where he interviews (mostly) comedians for an hour, hour and a half. Here's the YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCm_RKDdhebIXYK615k55hGg

I recommend flipping through until you see someone he interviews that you'd be interested in and giving it a shot.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 1:57 PM on January 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


Odd article, since it doesn't seem to distinguish between stage reviews, podcasts, musical acts, radio and TV shows, and straight standup comedy. I mean, is anyone surprised that creative tension exists when two talented performers work together? Probably true of the Coen Brothers, Teegan and Sara, etc.

The biggest comedy duo out there right now I think is The Sklar Brothers, who are in fact twins, and very funny. (You may have seen their Burger King ads.) Garfunkel and Oates and Flight of the Conchords are very funny musical acts but not really standups.

Dax Jordan and Sean Jordan (two LA comics) perform together as "A Cheap Pair of Jordans," and have also appeared as "The Sklaren't Brothers." Australia offers "Miss Itchy" (Fahey Younger and Linda Haggar.) But it's rare.
posted by msalt at 2:06 PM on January 28, 2018


Key and Peele seem pretty well adjust too. I haven't heard of more than half the people mentioned in the article.
posted by Brocktoon at 2:46 PM on January 28, 2018


They all seem to be British, and many are quite old. The events described with Cook and Moore were in the early 1980s. Why not mention Abbot and Costello FFS?
posted by msalt at 2:48 PM on January 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Er, perhaps because The Guardian is a British newspaper rather than an American one?

The Cook & Moore stuff can be explained by the fact that its cash-strapped culture pages are increasingly reliant on articles which can be thrown together quickly with minimal research. Many other newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic suffer from the same malaise.
posted by Paul Slade at 3:58 PM on January 28, 2018 [15 favorites]


The picture of Marc Chagall jumping is awesome; I always imagined him floating around in the air like the people in his paintings.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:28 PM on January 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


I've made a lot of bad decisions in my life, but it's never been my job to throw three cats twenty-eight times for Salvador Dali, and for that I can be thankful.
posted by jameaterblues at 5:22 PM on January 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


Inside No. 9 has a recent episode about this! The series is usually very darkly comedic, with a bit of horror thrown in, but this particular episode (Bernie Clifton's Dressing Room) was really lovely. (seriously watch this series it's amazing)
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 6:44 PM on January 28, 2018


Key and Peele seem pretty well adjust too.

I saw something the other day where Jordan Peele was saying he's pretty much retiring from acting and only wants to direct, so it would seem like Key & Peele are probably pretty much finished as a team.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:39 AM on January 29, 2018


I love Lee & Herring. Probably the thing I'd recommend most is This Morning With Richard Not Judy.

TMWRNJ!

Brilliant but completely fucked over by the BBC for not giving it a proper timeslot, though the Sunday Morning wake up time for students with hangovers it did get worked out really well for me personally.

Lee can be a bit of a sanctimonious prick sometimes and Herring's inherent goofiness balanced that well.
posted by MartinWisse at 5:42 AM on January 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


pretty much retiring from acting and only wants to direct, so it would seem like Key & Peele are probably pretty much finished as a team

I think they are both busy on their own things now, but I hate seeing teams like this broken down to just the front-end performing side. As a team and team-runners they wrote/ran the writing room, produced, and then also acted in their material, and probably served as functional sketch directors if not full-time TV directors as well. They could easily do a show in which one or both never/hardly ever appeared on screen, make another film together, write films together for hire a la Tom Lennon and Ben Garant. Not everyone you see acting or performing is doing the job they actually most want to do or the only job they can do. They may not want to do any more work together, which is fine, but performing isn't the only thing they were a team on.

That's part of the point of this article, that the hard part usually isn't performing, it's the creative work on the back end and being able to work long-term with a partner, dealing with that partner's other creative work, etc. It seems to me like British comedy has had a much richer tradition of duo/ensemble (see Month Python vs the revolving door of Saturday Night Live, though we did have that Kids In The Hall/State period), and right now I can't even think of an American standup duo that's not a musical act.

And now I wander off asking myself "what even IS standup anymore, in the podcast/improv/improv podcast/youtube era?"
posted by Lyn Never at 8:59 AM on January 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


I think they are both busy on their own things now, but I hate seeing teams like this broken down to just the front-end performing side. As a team and team-runners they wrote/ran the writing room, produced, and then also acted in their material, and probably served as functional sketch directors if not full-time TV directors as well.

I think this usually applies quite well to comedy teams that are more purely collaborative on very aspect, like say Bob and David from Mr. Show or many of the acts from the article. But I have heard that Key and Peele had a different relationship that was a little more front-of-house/back-of-house.

Several years ago I had a writing teacher who had worked on Key and Peele, and he had mentioned that they were less equal partners in the various aspects of making a show, and more fulfilled different roles within comedy production. In this case, Peele was effectively the showrunner and wrote a lot of the material, and Key was much more the actor/character interpreter who brought table reads alive, but very rarely wrote (a guy named Peter Atencio directed pretty much everything, including their movie.)

Not that that makes one better than the other but I think it explains why, after separating, Key and Peele have pursued different paths in film, with Peele becoming a screenwriter/director and Key pursuing more acting roles. Not to say I wouldn't like to see them work together again, or that Peele wasn't a good actor, but I do think they both seem happy they get to dedicate more time to what they seem to thrive at doing.
posted by joechip at 10:29 AM on January 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


msalt: "They all seem to be British, and many are quite old. The events described with Cook and Moore were in the early 1980s. Why not mention Abbot and Costello FFS?"

You joke, but that's who I first thought of.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:18 PM on February 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'd love to see a modern male/female comedy team who's signature gag is the woman coming out to do a set, and the guy follows to mansplain how to do comedy to her in the middle of her set. With lots of meta-comedy.
posted by msalt at 8:19 PM on February 7, 2018


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