Latitude Festival is known for its family-friendly atmosphere. It is the perfect setting for a family game show,butFunzandGamez isn’t your usual children’s game show. Prizes may or may not be on offer and alongside the catchy songs and whacky games, Jim Elf and Bonzo the dog will ensure the festival spirit is in full flow. Phil Ellis spoke to Glen Pearce about bringingFunzandGamez to Henham Park.
How would you describe FunzandGamez?
It’s a very odd show to describe to be honest! It’s a kids show run by people who should never be allowed to run a kids show. You’ve got a divorcee as host who is bitter and cynical and won’t let the kid’s win, an alcoholic who force feeds them marshmallows, a dog and an elf who’s just creepy.
You’ve been quoted as saying that, the more people said you shouldn’t do this show, the more it made you determined to do it. Is that correct?
Yes, absolutely! I had the idea last year when I was doing another show. When I told people they said ‘you can’t do that, people are very precious of their children’. So I just thought ‘nah’. The more people said it, the more I said yes, it would work. I didn’t think it would, to be honest, it was pure stubbornness.
Have you had any children not enter into the spirit of it?
The first couple of shows we were still finding our feet with it, but we soon worked out how to get the kids involved. They think they are going to win prizes, they think they are going to win a Playstation 4, but they can’t win. So once we’ve set it up the kids find it really fun. Their parents love it as there are lots of jokes that shoot straight over the kids heads, but the kids just love it as they get to play games, shoot water pistols and just have fun. We’re quite cheeky to the kids, but I think they like being spoken to by adults in that way.
Is it difficult to write material that works for both children and adults?
Not having ever done a kids show I just wrote a show I thought that I’d find funny if I was sat in the audience. I didn’t want it to be lazy though, resorting to swearing and innuendo or a bit close to the bone, so we avoid all those areas. Throughout the show we do life lessons like ‘don’t get too attached to your nanna’ and of course kids don’t get the context of what that actually involves. It is just about wording it in certain ways. All the catchy songs are there and games, but if you say something dark like ‘don’t ask for a dog when you’re seven as you’ll lose it during your A Levels’, then you can quickly move onto something else and throw a sweet at them.
How important is it for festivals such as Latitude to have comedy programming alongside the music acts?
I think it is really important, particularly for festivals like Latitude that get a lot of families coming. For kids there’s only so long they can stand and listen to a band they don’t know or like. Here there’s enough stuff for them to enjoy as well as the music. It’s good to have variety as well. We’re on quite early in the day and perhaps you don’t want to start your day with a rock band – ease yourself in with a bit of comedy.
How different is a festival audience to a traditional comedy audience?
I’ve only ever done stand up to a festival audience and they are different – you have to hit the ground running. Depending on the size of the venue it can vary how you handle the audience. I’ve never done this show to a festival audience though so I’ll have to let you know afterwards.
Wellies or fancy footwear for the festival?
It will be wellies if I can find a pair that fit, but they’ll be a very basic cheap pair. I saw a lady in a shop the other day with a pair of wellies and they couldn’t repair them as they were rubber and she was complaining as she’d spent £300 on them. I thought ‘You’re an idiot; they are just black wellies’.
Are you camping at Latitude and if so what’s your one top camping tip?
I will be using a two man pop up tent I used in my Edinburgh show in 2013 so I’m getting my monies worth from that. My top tip is toilet roll – and a spade!
What other act are you looking forward to seeing at Latitude this year.
I’ve been a massive Oasis fan for years so Noel Gallagher is the one act I really want to see.
Latitude is famous for its multi-coloured sheep – if your show was an animal what type of animal would it be?
It would probably be a platypus as nobody quite understands it!
Phil Ellis will be performingFunzandGamez in the comedy tent at Latitude
For more information visit www.latitudefestival.com