Interview: Idiots of Ants
Idiots of Ants are a sketch group hailing from the UK who have been described as possessing boyish innocence. You may remember them from last year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival with skits about World War II, sexism and love songs. This year, they’re back for seconds with their new show Model Citizens.
Elliot Tiney, one quarter of the group, was kind enough to speak to Pop Culture and Coke, especially considering he has been adjusting “terribly” to Melbourne. It’s not just the time difference though. “The jet lag’s been awful, but also there’s been parties and things, so we’ve been getting drunk and staying out at night, so we’ve got jet lag and hangovers.”
There are quite a few Brits making their way to Australia this year for the MICF, which is no big surprise. British and Australian comedy isn’t dissimilar, and Tiney believes it’s partly due to the fact that pop culture in the UK and Australia are “very similar”. “It’s surprising considering we’ve come all the way around the world, we’ve not had to change very many of the jokes in the show.”
Unfortunately, Americans don’t always share the same sense of humour, as related by Tiney. “We had a sketch…where we were shouting at this baby. And they didn’t like that in America! It was like they were all offended. But in Australia, they were okay with it.”
So if you were ever wondering what the difference between Americans and Australians, now you know. Australians are okay with people shouting at babies.
Idiots of Ants got a huge boost from their early Youtube sketch Facebook in Real Life, which went viral. Tiney stresses that they were very lucky with the “amazing response” their video received. “The video just went bonkers,” he adds. As to whether or not he thinks that video got them to where they are today?
“I guess that helped a lot early on. But I like to think we got where we are today because we’re really funny.”
And according to outside sources, they are pretty funny. Idiots of Ants took out ‘Best International Act at New Zealand Comedy Festival 2012’, and were the Chortle Award Winners of 2010 and 2012. Tiney thinks of those awards fondly. “That should be at least some kind of guide as to whether we’re funny or not.” But he’s also quick to stress that they do it “for the love of the arts, rather than the trinkets.”
Finally, we reach the topic of this year’s MICF show, Model Citizens. “It’s just a sketch show,” Tiney says. “It’s not got any kind of theme behind it, or story. It’s just a sketch show.”
Even the name doesn’t have any kind of special meaning. “They make you submit a title for your show about six months before you actually arrive at the festival, and six months before the festival, we planned to write a show about some models that took over the world. We tried to write that show and it was dreadful.”
“So we scrapped that and just wrote a sketch show instead. So this show is just a sketch show with the title of a show that we didn’t ever write.”
If you were hoping for a theme, take solace in the fact that Tiney describes the unrelated sketches as “crafted little comedy nuggets”. And like last year’s show, there will be props. But probably not as many as last time.
Last year’s Melbourne show “had a ridiculous amount of props. We had to get an extra three suitcases of excess baggage when we came over.” The excess baggage charges no doubt had something to do with their cutting down on props, not to mention the setup time. “We only have about 15 minutes to get set up after the last show,” he reveals.
“So last year, by the time the audience was coming in, we were exhausted because we’d just been frantically sprinting around the venue trying to set up. So hopefully there’ll be less of that this year.
We decide it’s best to leave the guys to either sleep off their jet lag, or continue partying. (“I’m doing both,” Tiney says. We’re 99% sure he’s lying.)
But there’s just one more question: what’s their strangest prop this year?
“We’ve got a noose. And we’re not afraid to use it.”
Idiots of Ants will be performing Model Citizens at the Victoria Theatre beginning on 28th March. Find out more here.