Coates on Kingsman / Kingsman on Coates
Tessa Coates and Liz Kingsman have performed as two thirds of sketch group Massive Dad. They sit down at an exclusive restaurant to discuss sketch comedy, their Edinburgh resolutions, and what it’s like going solo
Tessa: I want to start it off by describing you like I’m profiling you for Vogue.
Liz: Is that an original idea?
Tessa: When I first meet Liz, she’s early to our dinner reservation. Hair pulled back, a simple crisp top ["I try to mix high street with designer!" she laughs in my face later] and no make-up, it’s hard to believe she’s fresh from winning The Times Breakthrough Artist at the Sky Arts South Bank Awards. I tell her she looks very tired in order to keep her humble.
I’m late because we were supposed to meet at Nando's, which is equidistant between our houses, but she started walking and then got bored and just sat down in the first restaurant she saw so I had to do the lion's share of the travel. To be fair to her, the restaurant has excellent ambience which I prize above all other things. She knows this will soften the blow, but for safety has ordered me a burrata which I immediately drop on myself.
Now you do me.
Liz: We have to ask each other questions about the Fringe.
Liz: When I clock Tessa pulling up on a Lime bike, her long Narcissa Malfoy hair blowing in the wind (an effect conjured by taking the last corner at breakneck speed), I am both genuinely impressed by her athleticism and profoundly nervous to hear her verdict on the ambience of the Italian restaurant I’ve chosen out of laziness. She compliments my choice, and I flamboyantly wave at the waiter (a gesture myself and Niccolo agreed on 10 minutes prior) to signal the apology burrata.
I wait at least 25 seconds before mentioning the Breakthrough Artist Award I’ve just won, but Tessa won’t engage as she says the profile has become all about me, and she’s right, I say, using it to crowbar in the award again and how it must have gone to my head. We both agree that I should mention how glowing her skin looks, which it always does, but there’s no need to be a prick about it.
Tessa: Narcissa Malfoy has a sort of black mullet with white hair underneath. Is it possible that you’ve got confused and you think the celebrity I most look like is… Lucius Malfoy?
Liz: That’s a character not a celebrity.
Tessa: Let’s move on.
We spend the first 45 minutes of what we’re calling 'the interview' in the loosest sense of the word, discussing how good we would be on Celebrity Hunted. Not good entertainment value you understand, good at the show. Just two almost entirely unknown women, going completely to ground in the Scottish Highlands and never being found.
Our plan, if you’re interested, involves body doubles and the CCTV blindspot of the Chieveley services. Not really of course, because we wouldn’t be stupid enough to give our game away in an article. If you want to know how we’d really do it, you’ll have to wait until we’re invited onto the show, which you can encourage by writing in to Channel 4.
Tessa: I’m going to do more profile work.
Liz: Can I get the vongole please?
Niccolo the Waiter: Certainly.
Tessa: Between mouthfuls of spaghetti, Ms Kingsman, who insists I call her Ms Kingsman Times Breakthrough Artist of the Year colon the second coming of Stormzy [he’s a previous winner she barks while flinging shell debris at me – make sure you get that in].
Liz: Accurate so far, but we do need to talk about sketch vs solo.
Tessa: Let me finish. Ms Kingsman elegantly twirls her fork ["I never get to eat pasta!" she exhales, breathlessly] and recalls how she met me: at uni, when we both went, in secret, to audition for The Producers. Well, well, well, our eyes said as they met across a room of earnest girls in leotards –
Liz: It’s like 600 words.
Tessa: Fast forward to London, mid-2010s, and along with Stevie Martin (she of the 12 million views on her online sketches. 12 million! That’s more than the population of Belarus!) they started sketch group [write "cult sketch group", Liz spits at me through slurps] Massive Dad.
Now 2022 brings them both back to the Fringe. Tessa for her third solo show, and Liz for her first.
Liz: So, Tessa [Liz adopts a kooky journo persona she’s never tried before] how does performing at the Fringe in a sketch group compare to doing it solo?
Tessa: We’ve run out of space.