ESP’s comedy columnist Sarah Slack interviews Fringe Favourite Jay Foreman ahead of his Stamford gig…
Ahead of performing his critically acclaimed children’s show Disgusting Songs for Revolting Children at the Stamford Arts Centre, this month I spoke to comedian Jay Foreman about his YouTube channel, his love of Roald Dahl and what to expect from his latest show.
Many thanks for taking the time out to chat to ESP – can you tell us a bit about what your show Disgusting Songs for Revolting Children is all about?
“My pleasure! ‘Disgusting Songs For Revolting Children is an hour of me and my guitar playing my silliest and most gruesome songs. I usually play at comedy clubs up and down the country, but lots of my songs are frankly too horrible for grownups. There are songs about falling into a sewer, a car that runs on caterpillar sick, and what happens if you don’t brush your teeth for a year.”
I imagine performing to children presents itself with a fair amount of challenges! “There’s lots of audience participation in my show. At a normal comedy club, if I ask someone to join me on stage, the whole room goes quiet and avoids looking at me. But at my kids’ show, I ask the same question and the whole audience screams “ME! ME! ME!”. It can be tough to know who to pick, as I’ve only got a few seconds to work out who’s going to cause the most mischief!” What is the most disgusting song in the show, and what was the inspiration behind it?
“The disgustingest song is probably the one called Skin Sofa. It’s the one that usually gets the whole crowd shouting “eeuuurgh!” after every single line. But I’m happy to say that this one wasn’t my revolting idea – it was my sister’s. She thought it up, and I turned it into a song.”
Prior to performing smash hit kids shows, you also performed at the Edinburgh Fringe and appeared at the Musical Comedy Awards Showcase. Was there anything in particular which motivated you to create shows for a younger audience? “For a long time I did regular adult shows at the Edinburgh Fringe. One year, my show happened to be in the Pleasance Green, a venue which during the daytime is used for kids’ entertainment. Lots of parents told me it’d make a great kids’ show if I simply took the swearing out. I thought “Ooh! That’s a good idea!” And so, the next year, I came back to the Fringe with Disgusting Songs for Revolting Children, and it became the most fun (and best-selling) show I’d ever done. Now I’m taking it round the country.”
Who are your own comedy/musical inspirations?
“I’m an enormous fan of Roald Dahl. I love his books now as much as I did when I was a kid. He has a wonderful gift for making children and grownups giggle at the same gags. His books of poems Revolting Rhymes and Dirty Beasts were especially inspiring to me. Musically, I’m a huge Beatles geek, and lots of people tell me my melodies sound a bit Beatley.
As well as touring across the UK you’re also known for your Unfinished London videos on YouTube, along with Map Men and your Politics Unhinged series. As someone with a strong viral presence how important do you think YouTube is as a platform for promoting up and coming UK comedians? “YouTube is a fantastic tool, and it’s currently the best way for someone who’s just starting out in comedy, or music, or indeed anything, to get their stuff out there. Lots of comedians nowadays are abandoning the traditional Edinburgh Fringe route, and using YouTube to propel themselves into the mainstream. Indeed, it’s now possible to put your entire output on YouTube to become a household name without ever having to set foot in Edinburgh, a TV studio, or even outside your house. The youngest comedians I meet don’t want to be on TV anymore, they want to be YouTubers.”
After your tour finishes are there any other projects you’ll be working on? “I’ll be posting my latest videos on my YouTube channel, where I put silly educational videos about geography, with lots of guest appearances from other comedians. And keep an eye on my twitter @jayforeman and my website www.jayforeman.co.uk for updates of my upcoming gigs, both for children and massive children (grownups).”
Jay Foreman will be performing Disgusting Songs for Revolting Children at the Stamford Arts Centre on Saturday April 6. Tickets are available on 01780 763203.