Sean Finegan’s broad Irish tone clips away in excitement.
One part of three-man act Foil, Arms & Hog chatters away about the comedy outfit’s appearances in Melbourne and Sydney this year. “Our first proper tour of Australia, I would say,” Sean reflects.
“Six years ago we had a small pot of money, we spent it all to take ourselves on what we call 'the money lost tour of the world'. We went across America, hit Hawaii on our way to Australia, and did Adelaide for a month then scurried home.”
And now they’re scurrying on back. Friends for the longest time, being one comedy act as opposed to three separate acts complements better each of Foil, Arms & Hog's individual brands of comedy. “The best thing about it is the three of us have very different styles of comedy,” Sean begins. “Number one is the writing and the style is reflected in the name.
“Foil is like the straight man – that would be me – like more wordplay, straight man style comedy. Arms is all arms and legs kind of clumsy, over the top style of comedy, and Hog is a real selfish hog of the limelight, so he’s a bit more manic.
“So when the three of us get together for writing, we’ve got different perspectives. But when you go in stand, it means you can involve the crowd quite a lot. Because there’s three of you manipulating one situation, you’ve no idea where it’s going to end up! Three heads attacking the one problem, there’s just so much more energy. It’s a bit more manic, keeps it exciting, keeps it fun.”
Going by the plethora of videos available of Foil, Arms & Hog at play online, mania is definitely something they all seem to enjoy. Laughing, Sean says, “Thank you.” Maybe not meant as a compliment, but he’ll take it as one anyway.
“I don’t know what it’s going to be like in Australia, but an Irish audience love it the most when something goes wrong on stage. You could work on a joke for three months, a year, and they laugh, but if it goes wrong, and they know it went wrong, they laugh so much more.
“Irish always tend to love chaos and because we’ve grown up with that doing the circuit in Ireland, we now love the chaos. You can't fake the chaos, we involve the crowd more and more because they can throw it into the unknown, and that’s more fun really, when it’s not the script we wrote.”
Despite Ireland and Australia being English speaking countries, Sean is of course a little apprehensive how the humour will translate over here. “Oh gosh, terrified, of course!” he teases. “We’ll be confident enough but it’ll change with a predominantly Australian crowd.
“We have one sketch about Gregorian chants and monks – three young guys join a monastery and up getting really bored and drinking a spirit made by the monastery – we were like, ‘I dunno, do they have monasteries in Australia? Is it a general thing on the school curriculum where you learn about monasteries?’ 'I dunno!’
“If it doesn’t work we’ll just put in another thing – we know you get the drinking thing, so if it all goes wrong in our first night, we’ll just bring in our Irish intervention sketch and go from there!”
If there’s anything Australians are going to have in common with Ireland, it’s the drinking.
“That’s terrible, you can’t say that!” Sean feigns disgust. “No, I think that’s some nice common ground to work off there, for sure!”
Foil, Arms & Hog play Athenaeum Theatre Two (Melbourne International Comedy Festival) from 9-21 April and Factory Theatre (Sydney Comedy Festival) 23-25 April.