Comedy duo keep it in the family, at the Edinburgh Fringe, as Uncle and Niece, magic and comedy double act, John and Claire Lenahan, are about to hit Just The Tonic Caves for the month of August with their show Loud & Louder.
The duo spoke to The Fountain about performing at the Fringe, how they got into magic and the funny sides of being in a double act with your relatives.
TF: How long has it been since you performed at the Fringe and what made you decide to return this year?
J: It’s been almost twenty-five years since I’ve done a show at the festival. Back then I swore I’d never do it again, but I am now so old I don’t remember saying that. Seriously, my niece Claire asked if I wanted to do a show with her when I was drunk and I said “Yes.”
C: Three years. When I stepped away from doing my character and started doing stand up and magic as myself two years ago, John suggested that we do an Edinburgh show together as soon as I improved. So when John was drunk I reminded him and he said “you haven’t got any better, but why not?”
TF: What was the Fringe like last time you were here and do you have any memorable moments?
J: I remember last time I did Edinburgh there were three important reviews to get. One was in a little magazine – was it called The List? I remember the reviewer telling me that he was going to give me a great review but then through some screw up they forgot to print it. He sent me a copy. It was the best review I ever got but only me and my mother ever read it.
C: Having been on the London comedy circuit for two years as myself it’ll be like going with one big family and that’s exciting. My most memorable moment probably was getting a five star review two days after my last performance…
TF: Do you think it’s easier or harder to break through at the Fringe than it was in the past?
J: We’ll see won’t we.
C: I don’t want to jinx anything.. so, no?
TF: What piqued your interest in magic?
J: It’s the only thing I learned at University. I discovered magic there and taught myself a Masters degree in sleight-of-hand while I flunked out of University.
C: I didn’t want to do magic at all but then I wanted to learn how to saw myself in half and I got sucked in from there.
TF: What’s the best/most dangerous trick in the show?
J: While blindfolded, one of us is going to find a selected card that is sitting in a deck nestled in a beaver trap. I think Claire is going to be the one who is going to do this. We will resume rehearsals after her hand heals.
C: Yeah, the beaver-trap …
TF: What’s it like being in a double act with a family member?
J: It great so far. Ask me again after the festival.
C: It’ fun scaring strangers when they hear just one side of a phone conversation about magic tricks we’re doing “Hey Uncle! … yeah just duct tape…. well you can put it on me or I could… and you have those blindfold masks? …. ha! beaver trap…see you tomorrow then!”
TF: Why did you decide to join forces?
J: My older brother – Claire’s father made me do it. He still bullies me.
C: My dad put John in a headlock until he agreed to do it.
TF: Has a trick ever gone badly wrong?
J: I once tried to escape from a giant plastic bag that had all of the air sucked out of it with an industrial hoover. What could go wrong? The doctors at A&E thought it was funny.
C: When sawing myself in half, me, my saw and my bulky plywood boxes all fell off the table… Luckily I’m still in one piece.
TF: John – what made you decide to expose the card trick that led you to be expelled from the magic circle?
That is an interview all in itself. All is forgiven and I’m back in now. As a matter of fact – last year they gave me their lifetime achievement award for comedy.
TF: What are you looking forward to most at the Fringe this year?
J: The last two times I did Edinburgh Festival I got bronchitis at the end – so I guess I’m looking forward to the phlegm.
C: I’m looking forward to being loud for a reason…
John and Claire Lenahan: Loud & Louder
The Fancy Room, Just The Tonic Caves, 7:30pm
7th-26th August 2018 (not 13th & 20th)