Fresh from sold-out shows in New York, LA and an official, sold-out run at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe, award-winning, Norwegian-American comedy duo Zach & Viggo have created a new show, 'Thunderflop!'.
Through a series of surreal and free-flowing vignettes, the duo take you on an absurd trip through their wild imagination into the deepest, darkest depths of stupidity. “Most people think jokes are funny, and that can be true if you’re going for ‘head laughs’, but we believe the biggest laughs are the ones that come straight from the belly: when you don’t even know why you’re laughing.
“In our pursuit of this elusive laughter we have tried a lot of stupid things, most of which weren’t funny. But we did discover a few stupid things along the way.”
Not sure if you’re aware of this, but the authors of this article are about 50-65 per cent water, which gives us some authority on the subject. Water can be hilarious. I know you’re thinking: “There’s nothing funny about water, I drink it all the time and I never laugh.” That’s because if you laugh while drinking you will choke and die (DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME).
But consider the sheer, comedic versatility of water. What else can you drink, spit in someone’s face, slip on, sweat out, suck with a straw, and freeze into shapes? The answer is most liquids, but we believe water is the best option due to its comparatively easy clean-up.
In our show 'Thunderflop', Viggo pretends that a normal glass of water is boiling hot throughout the entire show (even writing this, we realise that doesn’t sound funny, but we promise it is). Zach also did a show last year called Best Friends with Tom Walker (MICF Best Newcomer 2016) where they spat water in each other’s faces to make it look like the other person was crying. Eventually Tom just started spitting in Zach’s face because it was easier to clean-up.
Both of these shows are award-winning comedies, and why do you think that is? Because of Zach Zucker’s superior, comedic method? No, it’s all thanks to water.
4. Technical Problems
The reason live performance and film will always coexist is because there’s a certain magic in theatre that can’t be reproduced on camera. Both media tell stories in ways the other can’t, but what’s so special about live performance is that in any moment, something unpredictable can happen and alter the entire show.
When we were in LA, Jonny teched our buddy Josh Ladgrove’s show 'Neal Portenza', which is a highly-interactive clown show. One of Josh’s cues is the famous 'Law & Order' ‘dun-dun’ sound, which is meant to occur about 45 minutes into the show. Jonny accidentally hit the sound cue about 15 minutes in and the audience loved it. He played the sound around 20 times leading up to its planned spot in the show, but when it was actually time for Jonny to hit the cue, he missed it because he was on his phone and the audience erupted with laughter.
Moments like this are funny because they make everyone in the room feel like they’re a part of something that wasn’t supposed to happen, and these moments can feel like magic if you embrace them. That’s what’s cool about our show; the audience doesn’t know what’s spontaneous and what’s planned, and we don’t want them to either. That’s the beauty of live comedy.
3. Really big props
We can all agree that a normal-size prop is not funny. Take for example, the skull of Yorick that Hamlet recites his famous soliloquy to: beautiful, dramatic moment, but not funny at all. But imagine if instead of a regular prop, Hamlet was delivering his text to an enormous, styrofoam skull. Now that’s funny.
Props should be practical. If you make a prop too big, it defeats the entire purpose. Take a big fork, for example. You can’t use it for what it’s made to do, so you’re forced to find something else entertaining to do with it. That’s what makes big props funny: you have a one-purpose item and you’ve completely ruined it’s purpose by making it bigger than it should be.
2. Really small props
Go back to ‘3. Really big props' and substitute 'small' for 'big', and 'spoon' for 'fork'.
1. Not being funny
Look, I know this seems counter-intuitive, and it is, but I promise you it’s true: there is nothing funnier than not being funny. When you try to do something funny and it flops, we see your humanity. For a brief second, everything drops and we see the person realise ‘oh shit, that wasn’t funny’ and THAT is the funniest and most charming thing anyone can do.
It’s such a beautiful moment because we see that person’s vulnerability after they showed us something truly ridiculous. It not only makes us laugh uncontrollably, but allows us to really love the performer; and if the audience loves you, you can do whatever you want.
Once you start to get this, then your stupid ideas start to live and the unfunny thing you did before starts to soar. When you don’t know what to do, something has to happen. The best comedy comes from a place of sheer panic, when you desperately need to do something in an empty moment. And it can’t be written, it can only be arrived at through the crisis of not being funny.
20 Jan-4 Feb - Fringe World @ Noodle Palace (Perth)17 Feb-19 Mar - Adelaide Fringe @ The Garden Of Unearthly Delights29 Mar-23 Apr - Melbourne International Comedy Festival @ Tuxedo Cat