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

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - FRONT PAGE - Fly­ing Pigs Pro­duc­tions: Now That’s What I Call Meth­lick is at His Majesty’s Theatre in Aberdeen from Tues­day June 26 to Satur­day June 30. See www. ab­erdeen­per­formin­garts.com

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

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