Interview: Steve N Allen and Erich McElroy

steve and erichThe Edinburgh Festival is of course sadly not taking place this year, but at least some new comedy shows are still being produced thanks to The Online Free Fringe Fest, which is where Steve and Erich have joined forces to produce “Comics Solving Problems”. A show that will air every Tues and Thurs at 9pm on YouTube, it sees the duo tackle the day’s headlines and any problems that their live-streamed audience send their way,  it initially began as ‘Comics in Quarantine Solving Problems’ and has been hilarious to watch each and every time. That shouldn’t come as a surprise as though given that both are critically acclaimed comedians, and Steve and Erich have collaborated on lots of projects over the last ten years including a weekly topical comedy night at Crack Comedy on the Southbank and three Edinburgh fringe shows, all of which were highly praised. Here they discuss how they handle creating comedy during a pandemic, the highlights of the shows they’ve produced so far, and who apart from each they’d like to create comedy with.

Comedy To Watch: You’re producing a show as part of The Online Free Fringe, how would you sell it to any one unaware of your work?

Steve and Erich: Since people probably don’t know anything about us, we would comfortably say that we are the all singing, all dancing, all knowing, one stop shop for anyone’s comedy needs. After they see us, they will know that we exaggerate a lot.

CTW: The show is a topical one, but how do you handle creating comedy out of the pandemic, and are there any elements you avoid tackling?

Steve and Erich: In many ways the pandemic is the easiest comedy we’ve done, there’s been so much anger in the news whether it’s Trump, Brexit or Tiger King. People generally are anti-pandemic – so we’ve got everyone onside at the start. Also, because everyone has been trapped at home, people started watching the news after they found out about Carole Baskin’s husband.

CTW: How has the lockdown been for you?

Steve and Erich: It has given us a chance to develop in a new format, taking parts from the various shows we’ve done together live in the past at real Edinburgh Festivals. It’s also given Steve a chance to geek out on all the online tech to broadcast the show.

CTW: And do you have any tips on how to stay sane during a potential second lockdown?

Steve and Erich: WATCH OUR SHOW!

CTW: You’ve been broadcasting live from home during the pandemic, how has that been, and what would you say the highlights were so far?

Steve and Erich: One of the anti-highlights is when the internet does go down and screw up the show. That’s only happened twice in four months – so not too bad. Doing this show even five years ago would not have been possible. A really highlight is that pre-lockdown as comics on the road we spend a lot of time in service stations. Working form home means that we have eliminated that. Now we get to stay in and overcharge ourselves for mediocre sandwiches.

CTW: Do you think the pandemic will change the way you approach comedy in the future?

Steve and Erich: We just hope there is a future to do comedy. In any form.

CTW: And once this is all with and life hopefully returns to normal, what do you hope to do both comedy-wise and personally?

Steve and Erich: Have an income.

CTW: Apart from each other, if you could collaborate with any living comedian, who would it be and what would you like to create?

Steve and Erich: Anyone more famous and on something more successful would be welcome. Failing that, Erich would love to work with Jon Stewart, although he is semi-retired, so it would still involve working from home. Steve would like to work with someone who’s been on Have I Got News for You, and is currently creating some of the best satire in the business. That would of course be Boris Johnson.

CTW: What one piece of underrated comedy do you wish more people knew about?

Steve and Erich: Other than our show, we recommend ’This Country’ on the iPlayer – it should have been as big as The Office.

CTW: And finally, if you were to interview each other, what question would you most like to ask? And what would the answer be?

Steve and Erich: We both asked each other the same question “Why did you decide work with me?” That answer, “You were free at the time”.

Related Links:
Comics Solving Problems can be watched here during the festival.
While the show’s main youtube channel is here.
You can follow Steve on Twitter here, Erich on Twitter here, or the Comics Solving Problems account is here.

Alex Finch.
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