Wit Tank Interview Issue 15

NAZ, I’ve been informed you’re 19th in line to the former Ottoman throne in Turkey.

Will we ever see a sketch where you and the 18 others fight it out the old way to see who becomes Sultan?

IT won’t be a sketch – it will be a reality. I think about it every day. I will prevail.

MARK and Kieran, if you could rule as Sultan, what laws would you pass?

What has always frustrated me (Mark) about Sultans of the past is their inability to focus on the mundane.
It’s always wars, palaces, harems. Personally I’d be a much more pragmatic Sultan: lowering rail fares, encouraging the growth of new businesses, ensuring greater efficiency on filling in pot holes.
These are the things that matter. ‘Mark the Pragmatic’. Now that’s the kind of leader an empire needs.

YOU performed a sketch where a Gremlin eats an office worker. What monsters or animals give you nightmares?

Anyone who works on any rail network, in any capacity, in any part of the UK. I (Kieran) have long suspected them of being cold-blooded.

We will be getting the train to this gig, so if you bump into us shivering and doing hail Marys, just give us a second to get our breath / money back.

WHO IS your favourite comedian and your favourite sketch?

There are too many to list, but we’ve all been enjoying some US stand-up recently. Look up Bill Burr and his bit about functioning psychos.

KIERAN, you’ve been compared to a young Simon Amstell. Is that flattering and what if it was an old Chris Addison you were compared to?
I suppose it’s flattering, yes. And seeing as Chris Addison only began to look any older than 12 in the last series of The Thick of It, that wouldn’t be too bad either.

ARE there any characters you’ve created based largely on any of you?

Yes. The three most successful would probably be ‘Mark And His Nostrils’, ‘Naz The Shouting Man’, and ‘Kieran Smiles’, but we don’t perform them often.

There are others where we incorporate facets of one (or more) of our personalities to create the most disgusting / tragic / funny overall character.

IS there a worry you haven’t fudged a character you’ve created and one of your friends/partners/family recognises themselves and falls out with you?

No, despite our best efforts. Our sketch ‘Bad Girlfriend!’ masked some unpalatable truths, but always tore the roof off.

Mark, when you were a teacher did you ever perform sketches or try out material on your students? What was the reaction?

I still am a teacher as it happens – and work part-time. There’s nothing more depressing than trying out material on a room full of apathetic children.

They just look at you with a face that says 1: “Was that a joke?” and 2: “We’d rather work than be subjected to this”.

Little do they know they form the basis of my stand-up sets, which are generally about being a Geography Teacher, so we’ll call it one all.

IN the ‘Love Bin’ sketch, when you were coming up with ideas what other objects were suggested and why didn’t they work?

Actually it was always a bin. It’s a sketch that Naz wrote, and he’s always had a strong relationship with bins. He spent weeks just talking about bins and trying to find something funny to do with them.

In the end he realised his own passion for waste was a topic for comedy in itself, and the sketch sort of wrote itself.

Naz, if you were Sultan what is the first rule you would make?

I would grant bins full citizenship rights.

IN the ‘Lord Nelson’ sketch Lord Nelson’s last request isn’t carried out. What lengths would you go to to get a laugh on stage?

Any. Short of filling out that particular request, probably any.

WitTank will be performing at The Stand in Edinburgh on Wednesday 27th March 2013 and Glasgow Comedy Festival, Blackfriars Basement on Thursday 28th March 2013. www.wittank.com