Experimental Music Love

August 20, 2008

School of Comedy

I spoke to Will Poulter. He was the most polite 15-year-old I have ever encountered. Here are his words. Also available in Three Weeks week 3 paper or on-line at http://edinburgh.threeweeks.co.uk/feature/5305.

Will, being unusually polite for a teenager.

Will, being unusually polite for a teenager.

EML is sent to the back of the class with young star, Will Poulter.

There’s something very heart-warming about interviewing one of the stars of 2008’s Fringe only to be taken aback when he calls his producer ‘Ms.’ But Will Poulter is different from most of his competition at this year’s fringe, being as he is, only 15 years old, and performing with five other teenagers in School of Comedy – a sketch show for adults, performed by teenagers and devised by his drama teacher, Ms… sorry, Laura Lawson.

“Hopefully they’ll laugh,” says a very polite Poulter of any potential audiences. “We have a great laugh ourselves just doing it. It is kids doing adult comedy, so it’s a bit different in that respect from other shows, but I think the most important thing is for everyone to have a good time.”

And considering last year’s show turned into a sell-out, Will should be confident of a good time for all. “Last year was amazing. We were just getting so many people in. And to do it again is a real dream come true.”

It’s a dream that started in the less chaotic surroundings of Will’s high school, where Laura Lawson was teaching drama. “I was very lucky to get involved really. Ms. Lawson was running an after school club, where people could get together and just try improvisational routines. She’d worked as a comedian before and just gave us scripts to read and try out ideas with. We got the chance to perform the act at school, and it’s just all developed from there.”

That development has seen the kids put just as much work into the show as the team of top comedy writers Lawson got in to help write the show for an adult audience. “All the material starts really with the improv games we played with Ms. Lawson. We got to explore each character we created, and try out different settings and situations to build workable scenes. It’s a real group collaboration.”

And it’s a group that’s built up a real team spirit. “We spend every day with each other really, and it’s still always a lot of fun. It’s good to share this weird experience, because we’re still only really children at this adult festival.”

This image of an ‘adult’ festival does cause concern for Will however. “There is a worry we might just be seen as a novelty. We definitely don’t want to be just some kids doing adult comedy. We’re all really proud of what we’ve created, and hope people come with an open mind.”

The show is also set to feature on an episode of Channel 4’s ‘The Comedy Lab’, and it’s an exciting prospect for Will, who has also appeared on the big screen in the wonderful British comedy, ‘Son of Rambow’. “The idea of our work being on TV is amazing. It would be incredible to do more, but you’ve got to have that ultimate goal.”

Will still has his feet on the ground though, but certainly wouldn’t want anyone worrying about his education. “Coping with school work as well isn’t really a problem. Nobody’s forcing us to do anything. This is something we choose to do. We’re all committed and we love it.”

And what 15-year-old performing at the biggest arts festival in the world wouldn’t? Will Poulter is a more than amicable young man, with a wise head on young shoulders. And School of Comedy should prove a lesson in laughter for any open-minded audience.

School of Comedy, Comedy, Pleasance Courtyard, 18 – 24 Aug, 1.40pm (2.40pm), £9.00 (£8.00), fpp 94.

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