Tom Clarkson and partner in crime Owen Visser are known to some as Jake and Elwood Blues of 10 piece show band Blues Brothers Banned (BBB)
The pair, together with BBB bass player, professional actor Steve Leask (currently playing lead in School of Rock at The New London Theatre) and Freelance Producer/Art Director Janna Bartlett, have been involved in a different mission of late that goes under the title Mr. Thing and features more mad suits and much mayhem. As Tom puts it … “it’s a live comedy chat show thing. Sketches, music, interviews and games… sharing and discussing interesting things with people who made the things.”
The bones of the idea came about when Tom, a Filmmaker/Director and inspired creative, was doing a Q&A presentation for his short film. It struck him how the speakers had fascinating things to talk about, but, due to the format of the event, they weren’t given the chance to explore them and came across as uninspired and dull.
“London can come across as being a bit of a cold creative community, but once you delve into it you find so much energy and excitement and incredible people and things going on. We wanted to find a way to bring all of that to a space and community where people could share and talk about their stuff in the most interesting and fun ways. The first person I called was Owen, and on that call what began in our heads as a high-energy show-and-tell quickly became a late-night-chat-quiz-comedy-show-thing.”
Pals and fellow video makers/DJs/performers from the age of 7 and founders of young enterprise OTUK, Owen and Tom have an Ant and Dec double-act thing going on, knowing instinctively what the other’s thinking and sharing quick wit and a love of comedy. Throw in their individual professional skills (Owen is also a sound engineer), and you have the perfect recipe for lively, off-the-wall entertainment.
“We then reached out to Steve Leask and Janna Bartlett who make up the rest of the core team and help write, perform, build and produce the show. We also have a wonderful growing collective of collaborators who we are so lucky to have helping for each show.”
Mr Thing was launched two years ago in a 40 seater pub theatre in Islington. Five shows, eleven online sketches and twenty one guests on they have a growing fanbase.
The last few shows were staged in The Arcola Theatre, Dalston and the next six are on at London’s Vaults Theatre this month as part of VAULT Festival 2018.
“We’re all huge fans of VAULT Festival and have seen some incredible shows there in the past. To be a part of it now is really exciting. The venue is part of a whole arts space in tunnels underneath Waterloo station. It’s beautiful. And every 5 minutes you have to shout over the rumbling trains overhead!
It’s wonderful to find a festival that reflects what we do…building a community that advocates and supports creativity and collaboration.”
At the core of Mr. Thing is a chat show that explores creativity and the creative process.
“The more people we meet and talk to about the show, the more we understand how incredibly different everyone’s approach is to their art. Over our 5 shows we have had conversations with musicians, poets, filmmakers, chefs, photographers, artists, magicians, writers etc. – each presenting or performing their work and then offering insight into how they approached and found their way with it.
In our run at The Vaults we are inviting some of those guests back, revisiting some of our favourite sketches and have a whole lot of new material and guests lined up.”
The Vaults describe themselves as ‘a platform for the bold, fresh and fearless’ focussing on acts that are ‘unique..daring…unknown.’ which just about sums up Mr Thing.
That and a guarantee of a great night out.
Mr. Thing, Wed 14 Feb – Sun 18 Feb 2018, 6.10pm (1hr), £12. Some two for one deals available.
Vaults Theatre, SE1 7AD