Monday, 7 July 2008

Interview: Go Faster Stripe

Partly because it's gone a bit quiet on here, and partly because I'm feeling guilty at having contributed very little since the site's inception, here's a post that went up on my own site last summer all about Cardiff's premier champions of stand-up comedy, Go Faster Stripe.

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Over the last year and a half, I've written a great deal about what seems to me to be the wealth of musical talent to which Cardiff is home. But it's important to point out that there are many other creative enterprises going on in the city, all deserving of promotion and wider attention. One such enterprise is Go Faster Stripe.

At a time when only the biggest comedians - Peter Kay, Ricky Gervais - seem to get the opportunity to record DVDs (which subsequently sell by the bucketload), the Go Faster Stripe team invite top-class stand-ups to perform in front of live audiences at Chapter and have the performances recorded for sale online. Not only does this mean that Cardiff is suddenly attracting some bigger names - I've seen Stewart Lee, Richard Herring and Robin Ince at Go Faster Stripe gigs - but it has also ensured that whole shows haven't passed into history unrecorded. That foresight and generosity should be applauded.

Fresh from a scouting mission to the Edinburgh Festival, GFS's Chris Evans was kind enough to find time to tell me a bit more...

How did Go Faster Stripe come about?

"I read on Stewart Lee's website that he was sad that his show '90s Comedian' was not going to be recorded. He'd tried to give it away to late night satellite channels, and no one was interested. I was sad about this too. And then I remembered I've got a few mates that know one end of a camera from the other, so I wrote to Stew and told him. We recorded the show, and it surprised everyone when it came out rather well."

What inspired and / or continues to inspire you?

"People in any walk of life that follow their heart, rather than money. In the comedy world, it's the comedians who are doing something new with the artform. And they do this even though they remain at the sidelines of the business."

How many people are involved in the work of putting together each DVD?

"There's five of us at the recordings - two cameramen, a stills photographer, a sound guy and me. Chapter supply a couple of staff to collect tickets and operate the lighting. Once we've got the show, we've an editor who makes what we've recorded look lovely. And then there's the sleeve designer, who also does our adverts - although he's the still photographer too, so I don't know if that count as another person. Finally, my girlfriend packs up the orders that we get through our website."

Which has been your favourite DVD to record so far?

"I've only asked people that I love - so I couldn't possibly pick one. They are all magnificent."

Who would you most like to work with?

"I think it might be interesting to work with a much bigger name - someone that is - or at least has - had a big DVD produced for them. I think the way we record stuff is often more powerful as we record it in a more intimate setting."

What are the plans for the future? Any new releases on the horizon?

"There's an unstoppable machine in action. We've got new DVDs coming out from Simon Munnery, Robin Ince, and another from Richard Herring. These are all in the can, and are at various stages of post-production. And in September [8th, at Chapter], we are filming a show with Lucy Porter, which will be lovely."

Great to see a venture like this snowballing. Thanks to Chris for his time, and best wishes to the team for the future.

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Since the interview, the Simon Munnery, Richard Herring and Lucy Porter DVDs have all come out (not quite sure what happened to the Robin Ince one), and their new release is Wil Hodgson's 'Skinheads, Readers' Wives And My Little Ponies'. Plans are afoot for them to branch out into publishing, too, with a book of the first six months of Herring's blog Warming Up in the pipeline.

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