Binge Fringe Magazine

INTERVIEW: A Digital Pint with… Absurd Sketch Comedy Duo ‘Bishops’, Making a Good First Impression at EdFringe 2023

They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Enter absurd sketch comedy duo Bishops from stage left, who are here to offer up a smorgasbord of introductory situations, awkward encounters, and hilarious first meetings. We sat down for a pixelated pint with the pair to get to know what makes a good first impression to them, how they went about trying to put that across on stage, and how they aim to leave a rather more lasting impression on the audience.

Catch Bishops from tomorrow at Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose – Coorie, until August 27th (not the 15th) at 15:40.

Jake: Hey Chris and Noah! Your self-titled show Bishops is a surreal take on first impressions – so, without further ado, tell us, what makes a good first impression?

Bishops: We actually have no clue. Make someone a cup of tea? We don’t know. We did actually try and make people cups of tea during a work in progress of the show but the venue wouldn’t let us have a kettle onstage so the tea was just ice cold. Kinda undid the whole good first impression thing. We also had a gig where we personally introduced ourselves to every single member of the audience to try and make a good first impression, but then we didn’t have any time to do any material. I don’t think anyone really knows how you make a good first impression.

Which is kind of stupid seeing as it’s the premise of our sketch show. Our show Bishops is our professional debut (whatever that really means) and with all debuts everyone is basically desperate to make a good first impression but no one actually knows how you do that. That’s kind of why we based the show around that concept. However, we did do a deep-dive on the science of first impressions and there was this university study which stated that 95% of people won’t change their mind after a first impression. So if you mess up there’s really no coming back.

Jake: The show handles the throes of performance anxiety – tell us a little about finding the comedy in it and what the process of creating the show was like.

Bishops: As Fringe performers ourselves we can say this: Fringe performers are inherently needy people, and needy people are pathetic, and pathetic people are funny. We’re not joking about anxiety, I mean the irony is half our group suffers from anxiety, but there is an arrogance when people overestimate how important their “art” is, and it’s funny when you undercut that. There’s so much to joke about with the self importance people project on their shows, and even how they describe parts of their show. There’s a bit in Bishops where we talk about “our world famous bin sketch” and how genius it is, and how we’re geniuses for writing it– despite the audience never actually having seen it.

This was based on a real thing we saw; during an Edinburgh Fringe show a comedian kept talking about this joke of theirs from years past, and kept referencing not only how amazing this past joke was, but also how important it was for this current show to make sense. We talked to a bunch of the audience after– no one had a clue what he was talking about. So we decided to incorporate that into the show, alongside the desperate attempt to make a good first impression, as a way to poke fun at the contrived nature of putting on a show in general. A lot of our sketches are really surreal and deconstructed, and play with the idea of artifice so we wanted the structure of the sketch show to reflect that too. Also the blatant hypocrisy of us making fun of pretentious artists but then describing our show as “deconstructed” and “artifice” is not lost on us. We also still get anxious before each show, so I guess it’s all nonsense really.

Jake: You’ve been a feature of Manchester’s Alternative Comedy Circuit – tell us about how it feels to be bringing the show to the Fringe.

Bishops: Manchester’s got such a vibrant comedy scene and it’s actually wicked to see so many people from the circuit bringing shows to Edinburgh this year like Dan Tiernan, Tom Lawrinson, Annabelle Devey to name a few. And everyone is very supportive in Manchester, I don’t think you get that same level of community in other cities’ comedy scenes. As Bishops, we run a sketch night called “Etch a Sketch” which champions new sketch acts and alternative comedy because most of the clubs in Manchester still just do stand up. Thankfully though there’s now a proper scene emerging with some great sketch comedians that we’re sure will be up at Fringe in coming years.

We’ve been pretty lucky to get gigs at the comedy clubs, and a big shout out to Creatures Comedy Club for taking a chance on us and putting us on their stand up bill. It is always funny though how quickly an audience can shift when they’re told the next comic is a sketch act. But being able to go up on stage to a room full of people who already hate you, just because there’s now two people with a mic instead of one, then being able to get them on side and laughing, honestly makes you feel like you have a superpower… a crap superpower, but still. I think we’re really looking forward to how much variety in the comedy there is in Edinburgh, and to not be the only people doing sketch comedy in a room full of stand ups for a change.

Jake: Tell us about your relationship with Edinburgh and the Fringe – have you been before and how are you feeling about it all now we are so close?

Bishops: So we’ve been lucky enough to go to the Edinburgh Fringe a few times when we were students with The Manchester Revue, and we co-wrote and starred in their 2021 sold out show. Which is what gave us the ludicrous idea of turning sketch comedy into a career and going solo(ish) after graduation and forming Bishops. We were like Robbie Williams leaving Take That, but in this instance there’s also another Robbie. Two Robbie’s. Robbie squared. (PS- that analogy also works with Beyonce).

But basically Edinburgh Fringe is the greatest place on earth for aspiring comedians, and the reception to our previous sold out show gave us the confidence to take the next step. We’ve performed Bishops at other Fringe’s and they are all great, but compared to Edinburgh Fringe, there’s no comparison. It’s like comparing an apple to, well, the Edinburgh Fringe. There’s no comparison. And if you haven’t gathered from that odd rant about Robbie Williams, we’re a little overstimulated as we get into the final week before the festival starts, but at this point we’ve performed and refined Bishops so much this year that we’re just raring to go!

Jake: Given the themes of Binge Fringe, if your show was a beverage of any kind (alcoholic, non-alcoholic – be as creative as you like!), what would it be and why?

Bishops: I’m really fighting the urge to say Communion wine…

Carlsberg Special Brew. Misunderstood by society but actually rather complex and challenging. Also puts you in a buzzing mood and weirdly your mum likes it far more than she should.

Tickets are available through the EdFringe Box Office.

Jake Mace

Our Lead Editor & Edinburgh Editor. Jake loves putting together reviews that try to heat-seek the essence of everything they watch. They are interested in New Writing, Literary Adaptations, Musicals, Cabaret, and Stand-Up. Jake aims to cover themes like Class, Nationality, Identity, Queerness, and AI/Automation.

Festivals: EdFringe (2018-2024), Brighton Fringe (2019), Paris Fringe (2020), VAULT Festival (2023), Prague Fringe (2023-24), Dundee Fringe (2023)
Pronouns: They/Them