Anna And Katy – Subverting The Sketch Show And Keeping In The Anarchy

anna-and-katyThere’s a legacy of comedy double acts that go by their surnames – Flanagan and Allen, French and Saunders, Morecambe and Wise, Fry and Laurie. Relatively few go by their first names – Vic and Bob… er… and that’s all I can think of. Unless I can count The Two Ronnies.

Now, I don’t know what dark art is usually involved in choosing which way round to work this, but if I were either Anna Crilly or Katy Wix, I might have fought for our double act to be called Crilly and Wix. For the sound of it as much as anything else. I find it just that little bit more fun to say than Anna and Katy. It’s nice to repeat it. Crilly and Wix. Crilly and Wix. Crilly and Wix.

Crilly and Wix.

But maybe there’s a little bit of a clue hidden in their choice because of all of those double acts I mentioned above, it’s Vic and Bob that Anna and Katy land closest to. When I called them up last week to discuss their new show – and that’s the ON CHANNEL 4 TONIGHT AT 10.35 KLAXON you can hear cutting in behind me right now – they did talk a little about Vic and Bob… and plenty of other things.

Now, I spoke to Anna and Katy on the phone and, oftentimes, I can’t actually tell which of the buzzy, distorted conference call voices belongs to who. I’ve managed to sift mine out – the lisp gives it away – but I’m actually going to go ahead and blend the rest together. I warned them that I might have to.

So, here then, is some of what AnnaandKaty, no spaces, had to tell me last week.

The sketch show is an old format, but certainly when we used to do sketches live we felt like we were subverting them slightly. That’s something we find ourselves naturally doing, deconstructing things. We certainly didn’t set out to make our show match the traditional format in any way.And we start with the character over the sketch.

We try to have variety and keep the blend fresh every week. We don’t want you to know what’s going to happen and you’ll just be waiting for the punchline. There’s a twist happening each time.

We’ve been in for a lot of sketch shows and read scripts where it just says “Woman 1″ or “Woman 2.” The idea with our show was that if the parts were so general that we could imagine another actor or actress doing a part, that part got cut. And we wanted to create a bit of a world rather than just a series of sketches.

We learned over these last ten years of working together that when you try to put live stuff on TV it doesn’t always work. You do have to think really carefully about it being a different medium but try to keep the same sense of fun, and let it stay a little bit anarchic. We think it’s in the detail. We really love detail, whether it’s in the performances or if it’s a “look” thing.

All of the German sketches are a good example of how we thought about the look the show a lot, with all of the silly little things. Anna has glasses that have no lenses in, Katy has at one point, some eyebrows that have been made to go half way across her face. These aren’t character traits that are written in the script, it’s just little extras.

One of my favourite things in the whole world is when Vic Reeves had a tiny horse sellotaped, and that totally inspires me. You can lose quite a lot of this in shows recorded in front of an audience, which is why we didn’t do that. We messed about on set together to find the funny.

Some stuff is funny on paper, funny in read through and funny in rehearsal and when you start to cut it in the editing room, there’s just something missing and so it got ditched. We cut about a quarter. The process was mostly quite democratic, we got listened to and we got to have our say.

There were worries from people that the pacing of something here and there was quite slow, there’s a thing in telly now where they think you have to rush through so that people don’t get bored, so we had to fight quite hard to keep some of the slower stuff in. We lost a lot of those battles, but we’re really pleased and delighted that we were allowed to get on with doing what we wanted.

We really want to do another series of this because we really loved it and it’s how we can best express our comedy. And then we’ll probably work on something more narrative on the future, but we’ll have to see what comes along.

Anna and Katy, with spaces, airs on Channel 4 at 10.35 tonight, right after Derek. Sketch shows, like any kind of anthology, are by nature uneven, but I did find a lot to laugh at and there’s no mistaking that Crilly and Wix (Crilly and Wix, Crilly and Wix) are funny and smart and the show has come on a lot since it was piloted for Comedy Lab a year ago.

Here’s the trailer for tonight’s show.

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