INTERVIEW: One Year of Comics Solving Problems with Steve N Allen and Erich McElroy

The last time we spoke to Steve and Erich was in August last year when they were hosting a number of shows at the Online Free Fringe Fest. Ten months have passed so what better time to talk to them about their latest projects and to see how it has all been going. There have been many big news topics in the new year so there is a lot talk about on a show like this! I caught up with the guys to find out all about it and what they have planned for the rest of the year.

Hello Steve and Erich, how have you both been?

It’s been great, just hanging out, avoiding people and viruses. The lockdown has been strange because it doesn’t really feel like time is passing. That’s the downside of filming two comedy shows a week every week, you can see how much you’ve aged while time wasn’t passing.

We can only mark the time by Erich shaving for an occasional sketch that requires him to talk to a bearded version of himself. 

The last time we spoke was in August last year when you were hosting a number of shows at the Online Free Fringe Fest – how has it been going?

It’s been going really well, doing streaming comedy shows. I think this Internet thing will catch on. It’s great to think that we can do our little show from our spare rooms and it gets streamed to people in high-def. If it weren’t for that ability, can you imagine how much our families would had to put up with? We’d be acting out topical sketches while they’re trying to eat their dinners.

Even if the real world of live comedy returns, we like it enough that we will keep going. Which our families are happy about too. They really don’t want to spend time with us. 

For those who have not come across you both before tell us a little bit about yourself!

We’re two comedy people who have been making a living on the live stand-up circuit for ages and had been doing live topical comedy shows together in London and at the Edinburgh Fringe. 

Erich’s originally from the US, but has been here in the UK for the last 20 years. Steve is from “Up North” or as it’s known in London, outside the M25.

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

There are many problems in the world. It gets a bit much at times. One of the best things you can do to cope with the world is to laugh at the things causing you worry. We find those problems in the news, we have them sent to us by regular viewers, and we solving them with some comedy.

That’s the premise for a comedy show that we pipe out onto the Internet with sketches, monologues and even songs if you stretch the definition of singing.

What times does it run throughout the day?

We do it live currently twice a week on Tuesday and Thursdays, but from June we will be going to once a week as (we hope) to be gigging again. Then we release short clips from the shows regularly. 

How much does it cost , what platform etc?

It’s free to watch, but we do love it when people make a contribution – just to give us hope, if not food – through our Ko-fi page. 

The main channel is Youtube

How was the project formed?

We’ve been doing shows together for over 10 years, both in Edinburgh and London. When lockdown hit it made sense to mix up versions of what we did in person and start streaming!

How do you prepare for an online show?

We each take on two ‘problems’ per show – so we look at the day’s news and see what grabs our attention and what we can have fun with. Erich’s been doing a series of stories about the London mayoral race and Steve is often covering the maskless. It just depends on what grabs us really. 

It’s changed so much. When we started I would have a little look at the news and that was it. We’d sit and chat about the problems we found. These days it’s an early start, writing, rewriting and then filming the sketches, editing the video. Slowly the hobby has become a passion.

What makes this show unique to the others?

It’s the best of a live-stream and a TV show. We make it as telly like as possible. In the future, after the next pandemic or a nuclear winter, we might be the only TV left, so we want to make it good just in case.

What have been some of the most memorable problems you have discussed over the past year?

Steve: For me, it’s been the material on the anti-maskers. At least the anti-vaxxers are easier to understand but the level of anger a joke about wearing a mask can cause on social media tells you something it wrong. There was a march for crying out loud, where anti-maskers went, without wearing a mask, so they’re all clearly identifiable.

Erich: – Covering Trump and the election has been a big part of the last 12 months. It’s good that he’s sort of gone, but it’s had a huge impact on my home country and it’s sometimes hard to even talk about anything else. Plus, the MyPillow Guy has been fun. He’s nuts. 

Even when shows are back in theatres in the future will you be considering doing any more online content? 

I think we should but I’m northern and I’m determined to get my money’s worth out of the lighting I had to buy. I think comedy online is here to stay. People have become used to the idea of watching comedians doing live shows on YouTube on their big TV. It’s just another option added to the mix of live TV, Netflix and all of the other options.

I also think that when comedy clubs are back we will see comedians use their newfound streaming know-how to do online events from the stage. 

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

We keep on going, no matter how many topics we cover, there are still more problems to solve. We are beginning to think we haven’t been helping much. 

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

Every thing you need to see the show and past content is here:

On Twitter we are at @erichmcelroy & @mrstevenallen 

Finally why should people get involved?

Why not! It’s free, in high-def and watching live we have a great community in the chat. If you miss it live, there are clips to catch up. Plus the news is depressing in it’s raw form. We make it a lot more fun.

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