Worrying too much about what people think can shut down our creativity and trap our joyful inner doofus in a mental cellar. No more! say duo LetLuce, who recommend celebrating idiocy for fun, frolics and chuckles.
If we all spent a bit more time embracing our inner idiot, the world would be a more open, joyful and less judgmental place. We’d laugh more – at ourselves and each other. Also, not to come over all Brian Cox, but it’s scientifically proven that laughing boosts immunity, lowers stress and anxiety, decreases pain and attracts others to us. Here’s how to harness your inner buffoon.
Switch off your brain
The minute you start trying to be funny is the minute you’re buggered. A slightly tricky conundrum for us comedians. An audience can smell the desperation a mile off; it reeks of egg biryani and isn’t very funny. When this happens, you could cut the tension with a blunt sausage. However, as soon as you think, ‘Fuck it, it can’t get any worse,’ and stop caring, the chortles commence.
But how do you find that liberation? Improv and clowning courses are a very good start. And no, you don’t have to be a professional wally to go to one. Loads of ‘normal people’ give them a bash (and are usually much funnier than the pros). These courses encourage you to shut out that naughty voice in your head that censors everything you say and do. Results are generally funny. Why? The absolute truth is rarely spoken in real life; we are too aware of offending people or saying/doing something stupid. But it’s funny when someone says the slightly risky thing everyone else is thinking. It’s surprising, sometimes a little bit shocking, but when you recognise your own thoughts in their words, you laugh with a room full of strangers and are suddenly united.
“The best thing about being a professional idiot is that you don’t have to hide it anymore. You can unleash your inner twat and celebrate it.”
We’re not advocating downright cruelty (‘Do you like my new gilet?’ ‘No, you look like The Honey Monster after he’s been heavily shat on’), but the world might be a bit better if we all stopped telling porkies. OK, maybe not in daily life, but it’s good onstage. In order to get to that liberated state where you can do/say/feel anything, you have to switch off your brain, stop the filtering and do the things you’re not supposed to do.
Watch other idiots
Once you start looking, they’re everywhere. In fact, we’re all idiots, desperately trying to pretend we’re anything but. We all fall over, accidentally drop jars of mayonnaise on tube trains, skid in our own faeces at Kings Cross Station… Oh, just us? The point is, it’s comforting to know we’re all in the same boat.
The other day, I watched an incredibly smug man unfold his foldable bike in front of the longest taxi queue on earth. He got on, cycled for roughly nine seconds and then fell slowly to the ground shouting “Shiiiiit” as the bike folded beneath him. And I thought, ‘Phew. Not just me then.’
The best thing about being a professional idiot is that you don’t have to hide it anymore. You can unleash your inner twat and celebrate it. Not only is it liberating and joyous for you, you cheer other people up in the process. It may seem like a frivolous pastime but cheering people up is extremely important.
There’s so much pressure to look fit all the bloody time; being on stage is very relaxing for us because we don’t have to be. In fact, it’s generally much better for an idiot to look rank. Our characters are usually men or animals (or both) and they often have more than a hint of the grotesque. Why? Well, there’s simply nothing that funny about looking attractive. Princess Diana. Beautiful? Yes. Rip-roaringly hilarious. Not so much.
LP: Last Hallowe’en I thought it might be a good idea to put a pumpkin on my head for a gig. It took two hours to get it to just the right size and I stank of pumpkin for about a week. Even the dog avoided me.
LB: It was worth it though. You really suit orange.
LP: We will pretty much do anything to make each other – and anyone else – laugh, especially in the rehearsal room, so when Letty put her foot in a child’s basket, gave herself a humpback and shoved toilet roll in her mouth until she gagged, I knew she was onto something. I was right, because Peter, one of our favourite characters was born. Did she look fit? No. But she did look funny.
“We opted to have our first go at political comedy to an auditorium full of under-nines. What followed was mainly silence, occasionally broken with the odd welcome heckle – ‘Have you got any sweets?’”
Take up hoarding
You never know when that broken garden trowel or moth-eaten curtain will come in handy. When you’re a skint idiot, or two skint idiots in our case, you need to keep costs down as much as possible. This means homemade props and costumes. And a lot of rice-based meals. We like to take seven bin bags full of crap, sorry, potential treasure into the rehearsal room and see who comes out. Children’s wicker basket? No, that’s Peter’s shoe. Broken back scratcher? Nonsense, it’s Ian McShane’s conducting stick.
Play to your strengths
In the fine words of Judy Garland, “Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of someone else”. Strong advice for life – and also comedy as we discovered, somewhat brutally, earlier this year when we were asked to do a gig for children.
It was election time, so for some inexplicable reason, we opted to have our first go at political comedy to an auditorium full of under-nines. What followed was mainly silence, occasionally broken with the odd welcome heckle (“Have you got any sweets?”). Fifteen minutes in, out of sheer desperation, Lucy decided to make our three election candidates (aged four, seven and eight) have a down-the-fake-wine competition. Yes, all the children in the audience had to chant, ‘Down it! Down it! Down it!’ Yes, all the parents were horrified.
We have since made a pact never to attempt political comedy or children’s entertainment ever again. We’re just going to have to stick to dressing up as men-slash-animals and telling weird stories because that’s what we’re good at and, remarkably, there’s a market for it.
In short, fellow idiots: celebrate your uniqueness, don’t shy away from it. And not just on stage, in all aspects of life. When we start thinking, ‘Is this too weird?’ it’s usually when we know we’re onto something. People ARE weird you see: we’re all weird, the word weird is weird. Everything’s weird in its own weird way so when you show someone else your own personal weirdness, it’s like a lovely invitation to be collectively different. So what are you waiting for? Stick a saucepan on your head and get on with it.
LetLuce: Sea Men (A Naval Tale) is at Soho Theatre, London, tonight to Saturday, 8.45pm. Click here for tickets.4013 Views
LetLuce, aka Letty Butler and Lucy Pearman, are a surreal, anarchic and charming comedy pairing, making big waves in comedy and unafraid to give their inner idiots a massive cuddle.