Janey Godley, Brett Goldstein and The Pin on comedy in lockdown
With stand-up on pause, Twitter videos are full of comedy club energy – and have been seen by everyone from politicians to film producers
As comedians continue to improvise through the coronavirus, social media has cemented itself as a lifeline. From the homes they’ve found themselves confined to for months now, comics have managed to distribute the laughs usually found in the comedy clubs closed nationwide through videos on social media.
Janey Godley has been a staple of such clubs for years. Over lockdown, her DIY voiceovers of politicians’ coronavirus briefings have gone viral and even garnered the praise of Scotland’s First Minister herself, owing to their unfiltered honesty. In a video shared by Godley, Nicola Sturgeon says, “[The videos are] very, very funny… occasionally I watch them and I think, ‘Yeah, she must have an insight into what I was really thinking at that point, but I wasn’t able to say it.’”
Yet it’s when Godley’s own voice takes over, with lines like “Maybe quite soon comedy will be registered as an art form and we’ll be able to get some help for comedy clubs, and they’ll open up – I don’t even know why that came into my heid,” that catharsis happens for performers and fans alike. “I have loved making the voiceover videos during lockdown,” says Godley. “‘Frank Get the Door’ and all the other catchphrases have been fun during a dark time.”
“Maybe comedy clubs will be recognised as an art and I couldn’t stop laughing at Jackson Carlaw trying to wiggle out of praising Scotland for coping with Covid” #janeygodleyvoiceover Frank we’re coming out ! pic.twitter.com/QU2JGVbRHE— Janey Godley (@JaneyGodley) July 9, 2020
Brett Goldstein – podcaster, actor and writer on the year’s sweetest new show Ted Lasso – has also sought to lift spirits in lockdown. Yet alongside promoting Apple TV+’s newest offering, his other content couldn’t be more different. Lone Island is a homemade Love Island parody that Goldstein has lovingly auteured. While Lasso has won hearts worldwide, he insists that his isolation-induced web series is his “magnum opus”. In it, Goldstein plays the perpetually topless Bradley Pea. He’s hirsute, he’s ‘over 21’, and he’s the only human contestant.
“Of all the work I’ve created, it’s the thing I’m most proud of,” he says. “The purest distillation of all my interests. Film, love, sex and puppets. It will either get me a BAFTA or sectioned, and that’s what I believe great art is.”
Like Godley’s videos, episodes of Lone Island capture that raw comedy club energy. Not for any shared ability to voice what’s on people’s minds. Rather, for their sheer madness. If Godley’s videos are the political comedian who opens the night and has the house cheering in rousing agreement, Goldstein’s videos are more like that guy who comes on at the very end and does 20 minutes on how potted plants turn him on.
Comedy duo The Pin, on the other hand, embody roles closer to audience members. Their web sketches started as a thinly veiled excuse to just hang out. “After three weeks of not being allowed to see each other, we discovered filming Zoom spoof sketches as the only real way to stop ourselves going completely MAD,” say Ben Ashenden and Alexander Owen. “After a few days of working out how the youngsters film and edit this sort of thing – and realising it wasn’t using Excel or AOL – we began to have a great old time.”
But it’s also their everyman personas which make them easier to picture in the crowd of a comedy club than onstage. Their videos mostly take aim at the remote work culture that has emerged from the pandemic. In one video, Nick Mohammed (coincidentally, also in Ted Lasso) makes a guest appearance as a man who must convince his boss that a nonexistent four year old exists off screen in order to win his heart and score a promotion.
Yet, ironically, it seems the down-to-earth approach has landed them screen time on a project that is anything but quotidian. “On the rare occasion we’ve been allowed to see each other (when we were somehow asked to be in Jurassic World 3) it was bizarre seeing each other in the flesh.” The pair reportedly share scenes with the likes of Laura Dern and Sam Neill. Although they seem to have been too preoccupied by seeing each other in person to grasp the enormity of the moment: “It’s like he’s in HD.” Ben and Alex that is; not Sam Neill or their prehistoric foes.
twitter.com/JaneyGodley / @thepincomedy / @BrettGoldstein
Janey Godley’s book, Frank Get the Door, is available at janeygodleystore.com
Ted Lasso is available to watch now with an AppleTV+ subscription
Jurassic World: Dominion arrives in cinemas in 2022
The Pin’s new audio mockumentary The Special Relationship is available on Audible