Slinkies, Kerplunk, Matey (bubble bath), Ringo Star, treadmills and Postman Pat have been given a new – and in some instances, marginally disturbing – meaning. The well-crafted work of Sheffield comedy trio, Staple/Face took these objects and characters and turned them on its head in their award-winning Sketch, ‘Bathtime with Tom’s Dad’.
Despite initial hostility towards the awful name, ‘Bathtime with Tom’s Dad’ was not the bizarre watery hygienic experience that my initial pre-conceptions had suspected. The show began with the three twenty-something Staple/Face guys apologising for the absence of Tom’s Dad, and after attempting to replace him by giving a script to an audience member, they explained that they would throw together some back-up sketches.
These sketches were made up of a concoction of twisted reality-based scenarios and 80s/90s inspired adverts. Occasionally mixed in with a voicemail from Ringo Star, who’s trying to get hold of Tom’s Dad, Alan.
Regardless of the somewhat sparse storyline, the script was fantastically put together. Each sketch involved an element of continuity and was presented in a creative, original way – most notably the Pokemon-inspired “slinky tournament”.
Deservedly, Staple/Face performed to a packed-out crowd in the University Arms, whose laughter drowned them out in a few instances. Once word had got out that a Sheffield comedy act had won Best New Sketch Act at Edinburgh Fringe this year, it became a not-to-be-missed show.
A few days later, I met Staple/Face (also known as Sam, Tom and Mike) to find out what else they’re up to – and see if they’re funny without the script. As it turned out, there’s a lot of actuality in ‘Bathtime with Tom’s Dad’ For a start, the picture of Tom’s Dad that appears throughout the show is, in fact, Tom’s Dad.
“Tom’s Dad actually turned up to one of the Edinburgh Fringe shows. It was amazing, the funnest show we’ve ever done.” Much to my bemusement, Sam told me that bath time didn’t take place – due to a lack of equipment, namely a bath.
If bath time couldn’t take place even when Tom’s Dad was there, the name seemed completely irrelevant. That is, of course, entirely the point.
“The name came before the script. We had little time to come up with a title for Ed Fringe. I realised recently that Dad’s are incredibly funny and Tom’s Dad is brilliant. We just thought ‘Bathtime with Tom’s Dad, what a terrible name.’ And decided that was the one.” Tom’s Dad, the famous Alan, was all for the idea, Sam explained.
Sam, self-confessed premier Dad joke writer got into comedy to stay in the popular crowd at school. He tends to be the main idea generator, with Tom and Mike chipping in to the script – or, as they put it “cut out the crap, which is most of it.”
The trio met at The Sheffield Revue and began writing as Staple/Face, which they described as a “representative of cosmic surgery”, in February 2012. Their taste in comedy is in the somewhat alternative and bizarre category, most prominently, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
With the exception of Tom, who “caved in” at the last minute and is doing a masters degree, two thirds of Staple/Face are University of Sheffield graduates, with every intention of staying in Sheffield for a while. Their latest material will be showcased on 19th November at University Arms.
Winning ‘So you think that’s funny’s’ Best New Sketch Act 2013 title at Edinburgh Fringe means that their venue for next year will be the Gilded Balloon. Regarded as a big venue at the Fringe, Gilded Balloon has also showcased the early work of Ed Byrne, Lee Mack, Jonny Vegas and many more popular comedians.
All jokes aside, Sam squeezed in a deep, juicy proverb towards the end of our chat: “If we weren’t scared of failing, we wouldn’t be doing anything creative.” A vast improvement on the original answer to my question of what they’d do if they didn’t make it: “give up and die”.
“We’ve been performing Tom’s Dad for a while now, it’s time to move on.” The last opportunity to see ‘Bathtime with Tom’s Dad’ will be at Kings Arms Salford, Manchester on 3rd November at 7pm. Don’t miss the opportunity to see this show – and prepare for a stomach ache afterwards.
Find out more about the trio here. They are appearing at The Greater Manchester Comedy Festival on 3rd November.