Comedy

INTERVIEW: Escape Via Sketch With The Next Level Podcast

EWith the difficult times we are facing at the moment, it is the perfect time to try something new whilst you are forced to stay indoors and over the next couple of weeks we are interviewing acts that are putting on everything from projects to lessons. Today, we are talking to Sketch Group Next Level who have used this time productively to produce the podcast they were dreaming about creating.

Hello there tell us a little bit about yourself!
We’re Next Level Sketch – a London-based sketch comedy group.  We’re all graduates of the Hoopla sketch courses with the wonderful Gemma Arrowsmith and we wanted to keep the sketch dream alive.  Last year, we got a gang together and we’ve been writing and performing sketches at Hoopla at The Miller since.  Then 2020 happened.

Tell us all about the project that you are bringing to the online world at the moment?
We’re creating a sketch comedy podcast!  It’s a fast-paced thing – at times silly, surreal, topical, and silly again.  We’ve been working on it for a while and somehow did quite a good job on the first go.  We were as surprised as anyone.

What times does it run throughout the day?
It’s a podcast so it’s a 24/7 multi-channel non-interactive platform-agnostic affair.  You could – and we recommend this – listen on loop until 2020 is over.

We’re releasing new episodes at least monthly, but we’ve received so many fantastic sketches we’re thinking about going fortnightly.  Watch this space.

How much does it cost, what platform etc?
It’s deliciously FREE.  Search for Next Level Sketch on all good podcast apps, or visit nextlevelsketch.com/podcast.  Please do subscribe – you’ll get the next show before everyone else, and that would make you really, really cool.

How was the project formed?
Like everyone else, we’ve needed to pause our live shows for a while.  Our shows have been so much fun and we wanted to keep the vibe going.  

Podcasts seemed like the obvious thing.   We’d always planned to do one and what better motivation than a global pandemic?  As soon as we mentioned it to the group, everyone was in.

How has it been going so far?
By the low bar set by 2020 it’s been a phenomenal success.  

We went into this with no expectations.  Most of us had never created a podcast before, or performed online before, so we had no idea how it would turn out.  Do sketch comedy writers know how to work a microphone?  Edit a sound file?  Use Google Drive?  (Yes, Yes, No-one does)

But everyone has been brilliant, and the sketches have been brilliant.  Seriously good.  Audio sketches let us do ideas we couldn’t easily do on stage.  Our CGI budget is refreshingly low.

And lockdown has turned the group into sketch-writing machines.  For our first episode we had more great sketches than we knew what to do with, so we’ve ended up making two.  You’re welcome.

With everything happening in the world at the moment, why is it so important to have activities like yours available?
Next Level is welcome escapism.  It’s been so nice to meet everyone, hear sketches, riff, and laugh.  Some of the biggest laughs during lockdown have happened on those Zoom calls.  We have some very clever, very funny people.

Recent events have been a wakeup call across the world on the importance of equality, representation and inclusion.  At Next Level Sketch, we welcome and support writers and performers from all backgrounds.  We especially welcome BAME, LGBTQ+, and disabled people.  If that sounds like you – please do join us.  Find out how to get involved on nextlevelsketch.com.

What can people expect over the next few weeks from your project?
More episodes!  Even better episodes!  Nothing can stop us (we’ve got a microphone now).  LOOK OUT, WORLD.

If people want to find out more about you on social media where shall they visit?
We’re on the cool socials.  Other social networks are available.  We have sketches on our YouTube, and podcast sketches on Twitter.  Do give us a follow.

twitter.com/nextlevelsketch
instagram.com/nextlevelsketchcomedy
facebook.com/nextlevelsketch
youtube.com/channel/UC-pzr0KyfVh0rv3np79x6Xw

Finally why should people get involved?
We started Next Level Sketch because there weren’t many opportunities to get into sketch writing and performance in London.  So we created one.  

Next Level is a collective – we run regular online sessions where people share their sketches and the group laughs and offers thoughts.  There’s no commitment to write, and if you’re looking to laugh alongside like-minded supportive people, we’ve got that too.  To cap it off, your sketches could be featured in sketch podcasts and shows.

We encourage all writers to take the excellent sketch-writing courses at Hoopla, which are being done over Zoom right now.  And the beauty of Zoom is you don’t even need to be based in London.

Britain is famous for sketch comedy so who wouldn’t want to part of it?  Find out how to join in at nextlevelsketch.com.

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