20 YEARS OF THE FLYING PIGS
Funnyman John Hardie, from The Flying Pigs, tells Natasha Mckim about picking the best bits from the last 20 years for their new HMT show Now That’s What I Call Methlick
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it is the Flying Pigs, and Aberdeen’s very own comedy sketch group are ready to take a trip down memory lane with their new best-of show.
Aberdeen born and bred John Hardie is part of the team based in the city who all met while writing and performing the student shows in the 1990s.
With only four remaining original members, more student show alumni have joined the troupe, who perform their own songs and sketches. They have also produced three radio series and a TV pilot called Desperate Fishwives for the BBC. John, 47, talks about their upcoming show at HMT to celebrate their 20th anniversary.
WHERE DID THE NAME FLYING PIGS COME FROM?
No one could think of a name for the group. It was a source of mounting frustration until eventually Greg Gordon, a founder member of the group, shouted “pigs will fly before we come up with one!”
It’s a cheesy story, but it happens to be true. It also properly reflected our collective fear that in trying to write, produce and perform our own show we might have bitten off more than we could chew.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
There is very little – gorgeous wives, husbands and beautiful children apart – which can beat the feeling of making a thousand people laugh.
But also, when we get together to write or rehearse it’s a gathering of friends. Often the hard part is getting the blethering to stop so we can do some comedy. HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN INTERESTED IN ENTERTAINING? Entertaining? Not always. Showing off? I’m afraid so. It took me a while to realise they are not always the same thing.
HOW LONG DO YOU SPEND THINKING UP A SKETCH?
The ideas for sketches usually come out of life; an experience or an overheard snatch of conversation. But turning that inspiration into three minutes of jokes takes a bit longer.
One of the sketches in the show has been in development now for 20 years – and we think it’s jist aboot ready!
IS THERE A FORMULA?
Sometimes. We have some recurring characters; like The Liar, Mr Duguid, or Meikle Wartle Television, for whom we’re always looking for new situations. When we find one, the sketch might then follow a familiar pattern, but not as a general rule.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE SKETCH?
My favourite sketch ever by anyone is the one from Not The Nine O’Clock News in which Rowan Atkinson is a gorilla who has been taught to speak and has a lot of negative feedback to give about the experience.
From our own stuff it’s the Caledonia Bank in which a Mr Ruaridh Duguid has some difficulty being understood by his telephone banking service. After it was in the radio show it was put up on YouTube by a few people and has now had almost a million hits, which is unbelievable.
WHAT HAPPENS IN ‘NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL METHLICK’?
It’s a collection of our best bits over the last 20 years. Although we do have a couple of recurring threads – one about a disastrous coach trip, and another about ex-trawlermen working in customer service.
WHERE DID THE NAME FOR THE SHOW COME FROM?
We ran a competition on Facebook, and that was the winner. We wanted something that suggested a compilation of greatest hits –or glaikit hits, in our case – which is what the show really is, and we all grew up with the Now That’s What I Call... compilation CDs. It also passed the crucial test of making people smile when you say it out loud.
WHAT IS IT THAT AUDIENCES LIKE ABOUT YOUR SHOWS?
Thankfully they think we’re funny. I think they also like the fact that the voices they’re hearing, some of the language we’re using and the people and places we’re referring to, are local.
The material is rooted in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, but the jokes are universal.
HOW HARD WAS IT TO PICK YOUR BEST SKETCHES FROM THE LAST 20 YEARS?
It was a complete nightmare. The shortlist had over 80 items on it and we only had room for 30 in the show, but I’m confident we’ve picked the right ones. I don’t think anyone who has a favourite they’re keen to see again is going to be disappointed.
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO FOR THE NEXT 20 YEARS?
We can’t really believe what the last 20 have brought, so fa can tell?
WHY SHOULD AUDIENCES COME TO SEE YOU?
We absolutely guarantee a richt good laugh. And if you haven’t seen us before, this is the ideal opportunity to catch up on all the good stuff without having to sit through ony rubbish!
DORIC ‘N’ ROLL STARS: The Flying Pigs, from left, Steve Rance, Greg Gordon, Susan Gordon, John Hardie, Elaine Johnston, Moray Barber and Craig Pike