World Poetry slam champion Harry Baker and jazz musician Chris Read – known as comedy rap duo Harry & Chris – are concerned about panda reproductivity. So much so, they’ve written a hilarious rap with sing-a-long chorus ‘eats, shoots, leaves’. The boys also rap about time travel, vegetarianism and robot wars. It’s funnier than it sounds and hot from this year’s Fringe Harry talks to Susie Daniels about demand for his dungarees…
‘Harry & Chris’ sounds child-friendly. As you age will you call your show, ‘The Baker-Read Show’ to sound more mature like Mitchell and Webb or Armstrong & Miller?
That’s going to be our grand reveal. The first show was about finishing university and being in the real world so there was a lot of angst. With this show there are three generations in the crowd so we’re relating to more things.
We’ve still got a lot of students who like our stuff. Robot Wars is quite a niche reference.
How did you both start out and get into rap comedy?
I started out with spoken word comedy – hip hop rapping rhythm in vibe. With Chris it’s the excitement of having a mate on stage – it helps when you trust someone! I’ve done a couple of rap battles but like everything else I didn’t want to tear apart someone but I like humour to disarm people.
Did you secretly write songs for any pop stars?
Not yet. We’re working on it. (laughs) We’ve got a song about Monopoly we can use if we ever sell out.
Are you going to bring out your own range of dungarees?
I think one other person has said that. That to me is enough of a demand! We were trying to work out what to wear that wasn’t too much and were thinking of recreating a deck of playing cards – us kitted out as the cards.
Your songs/rap/slam poetry are feel good, world-is-a-better-place happy. Do either of you have a spiritual background?
It stems from our personalities and our outlook on life. I don’t want it to be ‘hey, we’re being happy’ so we don’t want to ram it down your throat. In our lives there’s definitely been hard times but knowing what helped us through it is good to share. We met and went to a Church of England high school and were involved in Christian communities where we had lots of chances to be creative. We’re not trying to preach – we have a tongue-in-cheek reference to religion. We do still have a pray before each performance.
There are songs about pandas, Jesus, Robot Wars and vegetarianism. Is there any subject that’s taboo?
We try and have that positive feel to it and have more current affairs and political raps and songs and try and keep cynicism and looking down on anything out of it. The only guiding principle we have is keep it uplifting.
Ever rapped to chat someone up or split up with them?
I’ve not, luckily, no. My fiancée really likes poetry so I have written poems for her. Chris has written songs for his fiancée. When we were teenagers fancying someone was the biggest deal ever so between us we wrote some awful songs.
Chris gets a bit giggly when you ad lib on stage – do you set each other off a lot?
Almost every song starts with one of us trying to make the other one laugh so I love that. There’s stuff that comes very naturally to write and sing about. Things like me going vegetarian. It’s not an act – we genuinely enjoy each other’s company.
Harry, will you write a special rap for Student Rag?
Hey this is Harry – I’ve got this in the bag,
It’s been an honour chatting to Student Rag,
I’ve been asked to do a rap and I really wasn’t ready,
But I thought that I should try and come up with something for Susie,
If you’ve enjoyed this Q &A, our show’s a bit like this,
Except with actual good music and better planned lyrics,
So keep your eyes out for the Harry and Chris Show 2,
Coming very soon to a venue near you!
Harry and Chris play Glasgow’s Stand on December 18.