Words by Oliver Marshall
Physical comedy duo Zach and Viggo had a pretty special 2016 winning awards such as the Best comedy award plus the Critics Choice award at the Brighton Fringe. They also sold out every performance for their show ThunderFlop at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe.
These accolades and achievement are well deserved, but to describe Zach and Viggo’s show ThunderFlop is harder than it may seem. Even Zach Zucker and Viggo Venn themselves, along with their director Jonny Woolley, struggled to describe it.
“This is a question we have a lot of trouble answering,” said director Johnny.
“It's like controlled chaos, and pure anarchy, but fun, if it goes well” said Zach.
However, Viggo may have provided the most apt description.
“It's like if Mr Bean was part of Monty Python.”
The group are currently in Perth for Fringe Fest and will also be coming down for this year's Adelaide Fringe. Zach is American and Johnny in Canadian, whilst Viggo is Norwegian, so some of what goes on here in Australia is a little foreign.
“The first day [in Perth] the neighbour shouted out from her balcony, 'hey guys how are you', and then the next day we helped her carry furniture out of her house. She’s coming to our show on Monday,” laughed Viggo.
Asking someone to help move your furniture after knowing them for a day is pretty Australian, but Zach had a different yet still very Australian experience.
“We were hanging at our venue the other day and this one guy tapped us on the shoulder, he was holding a beer and our poster, and was like 'oi mate is this you?' He looked at it, took a drag of his cigarette and then burned a hole through my face.”
The boys have been travelling a lot lately and that inevitably means dealing with the hassle of going through security, which no one likes, especially Viggo due to sometimes accidentally pronouncing Z sounds as S due to English being his second language.
“When we went to Los Angeles the first time I was so nervous going through security because it takes so much time to get into America. I said that I was meeting Sack Sucker [Zach Zucker] and the security guy was just cracking up.”
It didn’t help much that Viggo said he met this ‘Sack Sucker’ at clown school, which is entirely true.
All three met at Ecole Philippe Gaulier school outside of Paris; a performing arts school famous for producing clowns. This background helps to explain much of Zach and Viggo’s show ThunderFlop.
“We did Greek tragedy, we did Shakespeare, we had a loose theatre education, its not very academic but it was all about going on stage and trying stuff. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. You did learn to listen to the audience and know when it’s not good and know when you need to change,” said Johnny.
These skills are helpful considering Zach and Viggo never rehearse in the true sense of the word.
“A lot of stuff we just kind of stumble on when we are talking and we throw it out on stage and see how it goes and just try and refine it until every bit of it is funny,” said Zach.
"We’ve never had a rehearsal," Johnny said.
Rehearsals or not it seems to be working for them; even the King of Sweden wants a piece of the action.
“We are also waiting for the king of Sweden to see our show, so we are a little nervous if he’s there” said Viggo.
“He wanted us to play at the inaugural ball for the Swedish prince, but we never responded“ added Johnny.
“It's an inside joke in Scandinavia that Sweden is the worst. Can we go on record and say that, Sweden’s the worst?” said Viggo.
Well even though the Swedish King wasn’t lucky enough to see them, everybody else will be able to catch their show at the Adelaide Fringe from February 17th to March 20th. The boys are also doing solo shows at this year's Adelaide Fringe, with both featuring aspects of physical comedy and clown techniques, but with their own unique spin.