Two Little Dickheads talk about the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, making joyful comedy and giving voices to your cats
Sharnema Nougar and David Tieck are Two Little Dickheads – a Melbourne-based comedy duo with a strong streak of silliness in their sketch. Like many artists, after a fabulous run at this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Nougar and Tieck packed their bags, kissed their cats goodbye and headed over to Scotland for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. They kindly took the time out of their hectic schedule to chat to Katherine Back about how Two Little Dickheads came about, working together as a couple, and what it’s like performing at the world’s biggest festival.
Two Little Dickheads is about diamond-encrusted meteorites, cats, and the end of the world. Tell us how that came about! What we can expect from the show?
We wanted to make a show that was first and foremost joyful. There are lots of amazing artists making brilliant work that deals with big issues, and personal tragedies and the like. But we just felt there wasn’t enough shows that are just fun from top to bottom, and leave you feeling great. It was only after we’d done the show a few times that we looked at each other and were like ‘you know our joy only show? Everyone dies in it. Oops’.
The show is super silly, joyful, and fun. Much of it was written while we were improvising characters and voices for our cats at home. It’s sweet, and funny. You can expect some chaos, lots n lots of laughs, and to leave feeling good.
You’re both from Melbourne but you met in Sydney. How did that happen?
Sharnema is from Tasmania originally, and Dave is from Sydney. As it turns out we’ve been circling each other on and off for most our lives. But it wasn’t until our friend was making a show called Old Fart and invited each of us into his dusty garage in Western Sydney to be humorously berated by him, that we officially locked eyes. We realised a few months later that we should be together. Awww.
She’s the best. It all happened very organically. We were asked to sing ‘Diamonds’ by Rhianna at Grrrl Power night at Melbourne Fringe. Being the idiots that we are, we made two giant diamond costumes, and were total clowns about it. We walked off stage and Tessa said to us with a joyful laugh ‘you were like two little dickheads up there’. We said ‘that would be a great name for a show’. She said ‘I’ll direct’. And the Dickheads were born. The building of the show was relatively easy. Tess likes to play and have fun, and so do we. So we played lots and kept in the bits we liked the most. Tess is a Fringe queen so any weird problem we ever come across, she has pretty much been there sixteen times herself, and knows twelve ways to make it worse, and a couple of ways to get it right.
Sharnema: this is your sixth year at Ed Fringe. How is the sixth time different from the first? What advice do you have for first-timers?
My first Fringe was in 2010 and the first 3 fringes I was actually working at venues. I did all kinds of jobs from Front of House to Box Office and even managed the Pleasance Street Team. By the time I came with a show (2013) I was very adept at flyering and understanding the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes. Without some experience, I think coming to Edfringe independently is borderline insane. Even just spending two weeks solid as a punter is what I recommend before deciding to take on this beast. Get to know the streets, suss out the venues, and flyer like a mother funker for somebody else’s gorgeous show, before you do it all on your own. Plus, the people you meet will be friends for a longggg time (and then they will come to your show!)
Each of you: what’s the best thing about working with each other? The worst?
The best: We’re working with our best friend and life partner. We have each other’s support unconditionally. And we never really have to try to write stuff, we just naturally make stuff up around the house trying to make each other laugh. Some of which ends up being palatable for strangers in public.
The worst: There’s nothing bad about performing and creating together, but PROUDUCING stuff together is THE WORST. It’s just one too many hats for us to wear as a couple. Sharnema is a great producer of other people’s work, but gets very stressed with her own stuff. And then Dave stresses that she is stressed and he freezes up. Then Sharnema uses a lot of non sequiturs about her admin issues and Dave gets baffled into foetal position. Then laptops are threatened. Basically, Dave likes to do admin as quick as possible even if that means his grammar and spelling are inconseavabull (ruining his career) and Sharnema is such an over-bearing perfectionist that every word is a potential landmine (ruining her soul). We love working with people and we pay upfront. This Fringe we’ve had the pleasure of working with disco-puppy-fringe-dad Lisa-Skye as our producer powerhouse. It’s been awesome. She’s not always available though, so get in touch if you are an admin raconteur and would like to be called a dickhead…
You’ve both been touring around the world for over ten years – which city has been your favourite to perform in so far?
Edinburgh is the best. It’s just such a great community, people take risks on tons of weird shows from unknowns. We’ve been really lucky in that people like the show and have told their friends to come, so we’ve had really amazing, on board, happy audiences.
Plus, people love yelling out ‘Hey dickheads’ at us on the street. We love it.
PS Sharnema also really recommends Prague Fringe. Dave recommends improv communities everywhere. And everyone we’ve met that’s done the Berlin Fringe have been genuinely beautiful and brilliant humans and raved about the experience.
You’ve both performed in dozens of award-winning shows, both solo and group productions. How is Two Little Dickheads different from the shows you’ve done before?
For Dave this is the show with easily the most costume, props, sound cues, and audience interaction ever. For Sharnema this easily the show with the least costume, props, sound cues and audience participation ever.
We like to think we are building a new comedic language combining our quite different backgrounds, and playing to each other’s strengths. And when your show is designed to be full of joy, it turns out it’s always super joyful to perform. Plus, in this show we get to throw around super squishy rubber bananas. You haven’t lived till you’ve squeezed our bananas (but also stop nicking them please, the squishy rubber banana market in town is tapped out!)
Who’s the bigger dickhead?
We are both Dickhead No 1! Hashtag equality dickheads.
Which other shows will you be checking out this Fringe?
DICKHEADS LIST OF UNMISSABLE SHOWS: The Traveling Sisters, Claire Sullivan, Miss Venezuela, Garrett Millerick, Narin Oz, Enter the Dragons, Fringe Wives Club, John-Luke Roberts, The Establishment, Madame Senorita, Marny Town, Robin Clyfan, Garry Starr, Tom Ward, Charlie Partridge, Lucy Hopkins, Midnight Marauders, Stuart Bowden, Natalie Palamides & best comedy line-up show is ACMS.
But we also think the best thing ever is to see shows from people you’ve never heard of, in weird venues in attics and basements, and get exposed to all sorts of weird and wonderful stuff.
Two Little Dickheads are on at the Mash House at 10:20pm until 26 August 2018 as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Tickets and show details are available from the Edinburgh Fringe website. If you’re not in Scotland, they’ll probably be back in Melbourne with a show at next year’s comedy festival. No promises though.