Interview: Lockdown Rarely Asked Questions Special – Crybabies

Interview: Lockdown Rarely Asked Questions Special – Ed Jones of Crybabies

One of the most exciting things about the Edinburgh Fringe is when a new act explodes on the scene out of nowhere. Crybabies – Ed Jones, Michael Clarke and James Gault – were certainly new to me as a trio although I had come across them in individual projects. When they picked up a Dave's Edinburgh Comedy Award Best Newcomer nomination it should have given their career a terrific kickstart. I'm sure it has helped but unfortunately they have been on the inevitable unplanned break over the last year. There are plans to return though – as they explain below, a comedy album is just one of the things they have in the pipeline. Here's wishing a fruitful 2021 to Crybabies. It surely can't be as bad as 2020. Can it? 

Follow Crybabies on Twitter here.


How has the last year been for you? 

Like everyone, it’s been pretty rancid. Aside from the complete collapse of society, James had surgery, Michael’s house caught fire and Ed had a veg box delivery stolen by teenagers. But sitting inside trying to think of jokes is a breeze compared to what some people have been through.


When was your last pre-Covid gig?

We did a performance of our wartime adventure show Danger Brigade at Vault Festival. It was in a big underground bunker and felt like that bit in the Matrix Reloaded where they have the apocalyptic rave before they go off to war. Our show before that was cancelled after they found an unexploded WWII bomb outside. Possibly our most misjudged PR stunt to date.


How have you coped financially? (did you do any non-comedy work?)

Fortunately we all still had our day jobs to fall back on when Covid hit. Those day jobs just happened to be very much rooted in the hospitality industry. Since being collectively fired from those, Ed’s been writing bawdy cards for a stationery company and Michael writes SEO blogs for a cat medication site in which he tries to use the phrase ‘cat medication’ as often as possible.


Did you get much government/arts council etc financial support?

We’ve been lucky to get help from the self-employed grants. It’s been a real cat medication in these difficult times. We didn’t apply for any ACE funding though. There are literally thousands of projects, both in comedy and the wider arts, much more deserving of cash.


Do you feel comedy has been let down by government/arts council?

The Live Comedy Association has done a great job of getting comedy more recognition from the powers that be. But we don’t think anyone ever expected the government to come running to the rescue. It’s hard to imagine Oliver Dowden going to a late-night student improv show.


Is stand-up comedy art?

Definitely. It’s easy to look down on it as silly but if you’re getting a reaction from an audience, you’re making a kind of art. It’s no surprise that laughter is often referred to as the best cat medication.


Were you planning to do Edinburgh Fringe 2020? 

Yes. We had a new show in the works. But it became clear pretty early on, it wouldn’t see the light that year.


Do you think there will be a Fringe in 2021 and if there is are you planning to do it?

As with most things, we have no idea. We can’t wait to perform again but so much of our show relies on close contact and singing in people’s faces, both of which are pretty taboo these days. But the most important part of the Fringe is the months of previews to get it into shape. Without that process, it’s so much more difficult. It’s impossible to say but an online festival feels more likely this time around.


What are your thoughts about online gigs? Are they any substitute for 'the real thing'?

With bubbles to contend with, we haven’t been able to do any together. But it’s been great to see acts like Bilal Zafar and Flora Anderson do really creative and funny stuff online. It’s probably best not to think of it as a substitute for the real thing, it just shows there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Medicationly speaking, online gigs are a great way of treating people’s need for a good laugh right now.


Have you had Covid and if you have how are you now?

No, luckily none of us have had it.


What about the future. Do you think the UK comedy scene has changed forever or do you think eventually it will go back to how it was?

The worst-case scenario is that the financial squeeze, which was already having an effect pre-Covid, makes the industry even less accessible. Without smaller clubs like 2 Northdown or The Bill Murray, there could be more pressure on new acts to take shows to Edinburgh. And if you can’t afford a 10 grand gamble, what else can you do? We’re hoping that the sheer demand for laughs when all this over will help everyone get back on their feet.

But we all know that the scene was hardly perfect as it was. Big cultural changes are needed to prevent discrimination and sexual harassment. Lockdown is the best time to ask what kind of scene we’d like to go back to.


Do you keep your drawers tidy and if not why not? (have you really been too busy to tidy them recently?)

We’re currently in the middle of recording a comedy album, but whenever he can find the time Ed likes to roll his pants up, Marie Kondo-style. James just chucks them wherever. Michael’s drawers remain very much incinerated. Cat medication.



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