Dice Productions’ comedy trio (animator Louis Hudson, and writers Ian Ravenscroft and Tom Reid) talk about why they work funny, what’s next for them, and the hardest thing they’ve ever been bludgeoned with.
Channel Frederator: Louis, where did you study animation?
Louis Hudson: I went to Edinburgh College of Art and graduated last summer. Going to university bought me time and contact with some very talented people, but I probably got most of my education from books like Richard Williams’ Animator’s Survival Kit, internet tutorials, blogs and podcasts. University gives you a lot of opportunities but you have to be very careful not to become ‘institutionalised’
CF: Ian and Tom, did you receive any education in regards to comedy writing?
Ian Ravenscroft: I don’t think formal training in comedy writing is that necessary, but my training as a journalist has definitely improved my style. I think the best training I ever had was to watch other comedy shows, absorb some of the tricks you can play with language and start to look at the world differently. It’s just about observation and trying to see the humour in everything you can. If I didn’t write comedy and laugh at things a lot, the world would seem a lot more cruel and depressing, I think.
Tom Reid: Doing a stint of playwriting at university helped me to focus on dialogue and overall narrative, but I’ve not done anything geared towards comedy specifically. I’d agree that the best education in writing comes from watching the comedy that’s already out there; being subjective about shows allows you pick up new techniques and methods that you can use to shape your own ideas. Other than that, working with others is the best way to craft and shape your own style, whilst making yourself laugh in the process.
CF: What has influenced your work the most?
Ian: In terms of existing work, comedy shows like The Day Today and Brasseye are big influences. I was literally raised watching The Simpsons too, so that has been burnt onto my brain. Spinal Tap and anything in a mockumentary-style like Summer Heights High always get me laughing too, well, almost always.
Tom: In terms of the telly, for off the wall ideas I’d have to go for programmes like Big Train, The Adam and Joe Show and of course the obligatory Python; shows where any concept is viable, no matter how strange or absoludicrous. For language and dialogue, Brasseye and Peepshow are by far my favourites, they’re witty, intelligent and consistently hilarious. In terms of the everyday, taking a twisted view of reality is the best way to get inspiration from the mundane or if that fails just write down real occurrences, it’s amazing how many funny things happen in the real world that never get written down.
Louis: I grew up on the markets and went round pubs with my dad as a little kid. The bizarre drunken stories, strange people, and places I encountered have definitely had an effect. Vic & Bob, Blackadder, Porridge, The Young Ones and old Warner Bro’s cartoons are good old TV favourites, but the biggest influence is the very first time I saw Terry Gilliam’s animations. That actually changed my life – it’s the reason I started drawing jokes. Vic Reeves’, Sun Boiled Onions did a lot of bending on my sense of humour too.
Can you tell us about any upcoming projects?
We’re making content for MySpace Comedy UK at the moment, and hopefully trying to branch out into live action with that. Meanwhile Louis’ getting his short animated film “All Consuming Love (Man in a Cat)” ready for the summer”. The trailer alone has done very well for us on YouTube.
Alongside that we’re trying to get scripts sorted for a sketch show and sitcom that we’ve been working on too.
Most painful thing you’ve been hit with in the face?
Ian: Definitely a wall. Although it’s debatable whether I hit the wall or the wall hit me. I’ll go for the wall, because let’s face it, who wouldn’t move out the way of a seven year-old running around with his eyes closed? It’s just wrong.
Tom: It has to be a tennis ball in primary school, it hit me square in the nose and made me bleed from both nostrils, it wouldn’t stop for several minutes and made a permanent stain on the playground. Yet another example of why Henmania isn’t for the faint hearted.
Louis: A rowing boat. I still have a dent in my forehead.
You guys are the best! Thanks for the interview!
You can check out Dice Productions’ short film “Message in a Bottle” right here on Channel Frederator!