INTERVIEW: Storytime With Silcox

It is a very exciting time at the moment at Turtle Canyon Comedy as there is a brand new series on their Youtube channel called Storytime With Silcox. The show launched last week and features stand up comedian Mark Silcox taking on the famous works of Aesop and updating them for 2020. I spoke to writer and Director Alastair Clayton to find out all about it

Hello there tell us a little bit about yourself!

We are Turtle Canyon Comedy, a production company specialising in original, collaborative content with the best of the UK comedy scene, online, for broadcast and streaming services around the world. I am Alastair Clayton, a writer/director and one third of the Turtle Canyon core-team.

Tell us all about the project that you are bringing to the online world at the moment?

Storytime with Silcox is a short, simple show that features the famous works of Aesop and host, Mark Silcox’s, takes on what morals Aesop was trying to convey with his stories. 

What times does it run throughout the day?

Each weekday for two weeks, after school at 4pm, we are premiering a new episode, usually around 2 minutes long on our youtube channel – Turtle Canyon Comedy – the episodes will then be available to watch whenever you like after this time.

How much does it cost , what platform etc?

Totally free, on Youtube. The world deserves this and shouldn’t have to pay.

How did the idea come about?

As the coronavirus approached earlier this year, we were discussing ways to still create fun online comedy but safely and with minimal involvement needed from a large cast and crew. I had an vague idea some years ago to create an “after school” style show, that probably would have shown up on CBBC back in the 1990s, a simple story with a message for the kids coming home from school. Suddenly now seemed like the perfect time to bring the idea to life, all it needed was some simple stories – which Aesop was kind enough to write hundreds of years ago for us, and a charismatic narrator – and there was really only one choice in our heads for who that might be, Mark Silcox. 

How long does it take to film each episode?

We designed the set and the scripts to all be shot in one simple location with two locked off cameras, so we were able to shoot all 10 episodes in just 5 short hours. AND we had lunch. What. A. Day.

Let’s talk about the illustrations, they are a pretty fun addition!

We wanted to add the dynamic of some traditionally styled illustrations into the show and illustrator Lise Richardson just nailed the tone of these, and it made total sense that since Mark is taking us into his world to tell these stories, all the animals really should have Mark’s face. 

How has the show been going so far?

Time will tell, no one has sued us yet. 

With everything happening in the world at the moment, why is it so important to have activities like yours available?

Whilst I don’t think we should simply bury our heads in the sand and ignore the troubles in the world, it does feel somewhat important that we have some silly, surreal and dare I say, wholesome entertainment to get involved with between news bulletins. Hopefully that’s what Storytime with Silcox can bring to people’s day.

What has been your favourite episode to film so far?

As we shot them all in one day, it’s hard to differentiate too much, but I think for me, I could not cope with filming the Hare and the Tortoise, it was so hard for me not to ruin takes from behind the camera from laughing too much. It’s such a well known fable, we wanted Mark to deliver it in a memorable way, and I gave him the simple direction that he should tell the story as if he finds it almost too funny to tell, and he just delivered that perfectly, I could barely breathe from trying to stifle laughter. 

What is your favourite fable and why?

I think it has to be The Ass Carrying the Image. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t LIKE the story much, but of the ones we’ve shot, it’s my favourite, because it seems to break a barrier between a human being and an animal character, something Aesop doesn’t do a lot of. The human being in the story is an arrogant, cruel idiot, who abuses an animal for being proud, as far as I’m aware, Asses don’t have the cognition to show pride, and this guy needs to wind his neck in. I hope in the sequel the Ass kicks him to death. 

What can people expect over the next few weeks from your project?

Just a lovely 2-3 minutes each weekday with the soothing voice of Mark Silcox telling us some beautiful stories AND a chance to really think things through. 

If people want to find out more about you on social media where shall they visit?

Visit @TurtleCanyonCom on Instagram, my instagram is @senorturtle but it’s mainly my cats and me bullying an employee called McFear now and then. 

Finally why should people get involved?

Why SHOULDN’T people get involved? Only if they’re so convinced they are such robustly moral individuals they don’t think ancient stories and Mark Silcox can enlighten them… and if that’s the case, they’re more arrogant than the Ass’s Owner, and they’re liable to be kicked to death. 

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