Jennifer Byrne and Vicky Falconer-Pritchard are best known as the musical comedy duo EastEnd Cabaret. They are giving their usual characters Bernadette Byrne and Victor Victoria – the vampy diva and her hilariously creepy housemate – a rest for their brand new show Yeti's Demon Dive Bar. Following a short run at Fringe World in Perth, their Adelaide Fringe season at the Garden has already received rave reviews. We caught up with Jen and Vicky to find out more about it. Once you get to know these ladies, you'll want to book tickets too.
Your new show is about a Yeti who runs a Demon Dive Bar. If your show was a cocktail, how would Yeti make it?
Vicky Falconer-Pritchard: My lameness wants to say it’s a Snowball, but it’s really not, because a Snowball is sweet and this is really fucking dark and weird. It’s more like a Dark and Stormy. Lots of booze then a whole bunch of weird shit. A little bit sweet, a little bit sexy, a little bit risqué.
What inspired you to split from Bernie and Victy?
VFP: We love Bernie and Victy, but we thought after five years it was time to try something a bit different.
Jennifer Byrne: We wanted to challenge ourselves in different ways. This show is definitely less cabaret, more comedy. Plus a lot of clowning, some mime and getting playful with the audience. But there’s still a lot of music – Vic went mental on Garage Band.
VFP: Oh, I did. I get super geeky about the music stuff. I’m not playing as much live music in this show, but there’s lots of weird sounds dropped into psychedelic soundscapes. The music is interwoven, but it’s more comedy, slightly sketchy, slightly surreal and you don’t know what’s going to happen next.
JB: There’s a loose narrative.
VFP: Loose is key. Very loose.
What was the hardest thing about pulling such a loose show together?
JB: The hardest thing was that we had so many ideas. Once we’d lost the constraints of the Bernie and Victy characters, we opened up and went, right, we can do anything that we want. We chose what to put in and what fit together the best to create a really great overall experience, so that people feel connected to the characters but also understand that it’s all meant to be silly.
VFP: It’s a really positive thing because it means that if we do have a bunch of other ideas, say... for another show! Yeti’s could live on as this bizarre place where other things can happen.
You’ve been compared to the Mighty Boosh. What do you think of that comparison?
VFP: It’s the way they create a world. That, I hope, is the reason for the comparison. Because we want to create Yeti’s as if you’re walking into this bar that just popped up from who knows where, like the Titty Twister from Dusk til Dawn or the castle in Rocky Horror. They make a world that’s just completely bonkers seem quite real and relatable.
Are you mates with Noel Fielding?
JB: We’ve done some gigs with him. Last time I saw him he was getting kicked out of Soho Theatre by the bouncer because he was having a dressing room party and they had to clean the room. Our director was trying to mediate, but it was too far gone for us to help him.
Do you have a favourite new character?
JB: I love Yeti. She’s so ridiculous and fun to play. Especially for me, because in EastEnd I always played it straight. Vicky was behind me doing bizarre facial expressions and having all the fun, and now I can play a bit more with her. Audience interaction is a thing that we do – I can’t help myself. But it’s very different. As a Yeti, I can do similar things as Bernie but push people further, because they are more open to it. A vampy diva needs to maintain a certain level of composure, whereas Yeti is more lovable and weird.
Whose idea was the Yeti costume?
JB: Yeti costumes online were really expensive, and we thought – we can’t afford this shit. What looks like a Yeti? And we’re like – mops. They’re white, they’re hairy. Tom Velvick from DeadMan Comedy was with us – he co-writes, produces, and directs the show.
VFP: So all three of us getting drunk should get the blame for the Yeti costume.
And your favourite, Vicky?
VFP: For me it’s the Head, because it’s just so stupid. He’s like a 70’s crooner and a bit sleazy. He tries to do magic, but he ultimately fails because he’s just a head. No limbs. I also sport a very large pair of eyebrows. They’re just massive. So many of the youth have come up to us while we’re walking through the Garden going “like oh my god, your eyebrows are so on fleek.” What does that mean? These are comedy eyebrows! So apparently comedy eyebrows are in.
JB: And even guys are like “Hey. Nice eyebrows.” Like it’s sexy. Bizarre.
Speaking of sexy – should fans expect the same level of high-octane smut in Demon Dive Bar as in EastEnd Cabaret?
VFP: Yeah. It’s just the thing we do. And sex is hilarious!
JB: It’s what makes us laugh. It’s so real, and everyone has it. But it’s expressed in different ways in this show. It’s still filthy – not for the children. Actually last year we had a family of five kids all under the age of 12 with their parents. They came out singing “Danger Wank”.
VFP: Like the von Trapp family. I guess they have to learn some time – and the best way is through song!
Do you have a favourite funny sexual position?
VFP: We ask people this during the show. Someone said a really weird one the other day. This guy was just like “I like the Stapler.” He was very insistent on the stapling. The audience were all heckling him, and I was taking the piss out of him. So he got all shy and didn’t care to elaborate. If anyone knows what it is, send in some diagrams.
As gin fiends, what’s your favourite gin joint in Adelaide?
JB: At the moment it’s more bottles of gin behind the tent. Audience members started bringing us bottles of gin because they know we love it. And we display them on stage. We tried the local one – 78 Degrees Gin.
VFP: Sipsmith is our go-to in London though. It’s small batch and really tasty. You don’t need anything else but the gin.
What do you love most about coming to Adelaide for the Fringe?
JB: It’s one of our favourite festivals. It’s like coming home. The crowds are really great – they’re up for a bit of filth. With everything that’s happening in Adelaide at this time, there’s a hilarious melting pot of cultures. We love the Clipsal crowd in EastEnd, because they come in looking sceptical and by the end they’re going off.