MUSICAL comedy duo Flo & Joan have revealed their love for Scottish institution The Singing Kettle as they get their Fringe run underway.
The sisters, real names Nicola and Rosie Dempsey, cite the adventures of Archie, Cilla and various colourful kettles as one of their musical influences while growing up.
Rosie says: “We came up to Edinburgh when we were really young. We had to dress in Christmas clothes and our mum surprised us and we went to see The Singing Kettle live. One of the best days ever!”
Now performing in Edinburgh themselves, this year is the duo’s third Fringe and follows a sell-out run at last year’s festival.
They’ve had viral hits, performed to packed crowds in North America and were stars of a UK-wide bank advert.
But they’ll still be out braving the elements handing out leaflets for their daily shows.
“We’ve learned that flyering is horrible every year, it never changes,” laughs Nicola.
She's on sale! – Alive on Stage – 1st-26th Aug – 4pm – @ThePleasance – @edfringe #edfringe – Tickets at https://t.co/yhML1eLprM – Photo by @MrMattCrockett – Poster by Amy Oulton pic.twitter.com/vPrPQ18zbE
— Flo & Joan (@FloandJoan) June 7, 2018
In terms of other Fringe lessons, Rosie adds: “We’ve also learned not be precious about it. We run the show before and after Edinburgh.
“We know the things that do work and the thinks that don’t work so it’s not to take one bad show as the end of the world. It makes you better doing it for a month.”
The sisters’ gateway into musical comedy was listening to Victoria Wood, and Tim Minchin in their ‘angsty years’.
And their stage names come as a sort of tribute to family members, with Flo and Joan being the names of their grandmother and her sister.
“When we were doing our first show our friend who was introducing us asked us what we wanted to be called and Nicola and Rosie was really boring,” Nicola explains.
“We thought about going by The Dempsey Sisters but that sounds like we’re about to do cartwheels in a 1920s variety show!”
Flo and Joan was what they eventually opted for, and the sisters got the approval of Auntie Joan to go ahead with it on a permanent basis.
So what’s it like being a sister act at the Fringe – and do they manage to get along for a whole month together?
“We do get on,” laughs Nicola, “but we definitely bicker and have creative differences.
“We’re not overly precious if we disagree on something. We usually just get rid of it and move on. Sometimes we will argue over a specific word or the smallest possible things.”
“They’re just little bickers,” agrees Rosie.
Nicola continues: “There’s a nice shortcut when you’re siblings, you dont’ have to beat around the bush and can be quite honest with each other. Our brains work in a similar way so you can just predict the outcome often.”
Speaking of being sisters, many will recognise the pair from an advert for Nationwide released last year on that very subject.
It brought the duo into the public spotlight, even leading to death threats on social media, but the duo look back on it fondly.
Nicola says: “We had a really fun time doing the job and the response actually was overwhelmingly positive, it’s just the negative always outweighs the positive.
“We loved doing it because most of the material we do in our shows isn’t family friendly so we had to sit down and do it for this and it’s something we hadn’t had to do before. We really enjoyed it.”
Flo & Joan go on tour from September to April, including dates at The Stand in Glasgow and Edinburgh as well as Aberdeen’s The Lemon Tree in January.
And their dates so far at the Fringe have been selling out pretty quickly, and the good reviews have been flowing in.
“The show’s really fun, we’ve really enjoyed doing this one,” says Nicola.
“We’re doing lots of different genres, and we’ve got some topical stuff. We’re playing some childhood school instruments and it’s really a mix of songs we’ve done over the past year.”
Both sisters are delighted to be in Edinburgh and to be a part of such a special festival.
Rosie says: “From a personal point of view, just doing that same show twenty eight times or whatever in a row makes you so much better. It makes you so sharp.
“The whole festival is incredible and it’s so fun to do the show and then go and watch what everyone else is up to.
“Everyone’s in the same place at the same time and everyone’s in the same boat. When we describe it to friends who don’t know what it is, explain the setting to them and the magnitude and the scale, people can’t believe it.
“It’s so cool, it’s amazing.”
Flo & Joan, Pleasance Cabaret Bar, until August 26, 4pm