By Charlie Norton
I’m approached in the noisy foyer of Buttermarket by a normified David Blair, transformed from alien comedian to down-to-earth nice-guy by the absence of the Planet Caramel costume of a pair of neon orange Mod glasses. When Alex Harwood and Richard Duffy, sporting a shock of mauve hair, sweep in together, the three avidly fill each other in on whatever has happened in the hours spent apart since their last show – I’m reluctant to disrupt the lively flow of chat between them.
Can you tell me about early days of Planet Caramel?
Richard: We were all in the Edinburgh Revue at different times.
David: Then I wanted to form a group with Alex, and Richard was a necessary appendage.
Alex: And now we’re all best friends!
How did you choose the troupe name?
David: ‘Planet Caramel’ was chosen completely at random–
Richard: Then we decided it would be a good idea to have a bribe and managed to get hold of Tunnock’s, who give us 600 caramel wafers a year.
David: You know the worst thing about the wafers is that we’re the only show at the Fringe that gives them out and 10% of people go “Oh, have you not got Tunnock’s teacakes?” For f*ck’s sake guys, we’re not called Planet Teacake.
So, who decided on the fluorescent Mod glasses?
Richard: (to Alex) You’re essentially the aesthetics man.
Alex: Yeah – that was me! I was trying to get us a uniform for ages, and wanted us to be dressed as Cosmic Postmen…
David: Not a lot of Google results.
Alex: The glasses idea came from Devo, an Art Pop electronic band from the 80s, who wear these famous weird hats and look really bizarre. I imagined us doing the equivalent with glasses and it just worked.
Richard: We actually had a sexy photoshoot with the glasses and matching orange tutus.
Speaking of sexy, that word has been thrown about a lot in relation to your show…
David: I don’t know why, I don’t think of us as very sexy at all. Richard is another species.
Richard: Well, my flatmates overheard some Americans after a performance refer to me as ‘a tall glass of water’!
Alex: My boss’s mate fancies Richard too. There are definitely parts of the show where I feel sexy and then parts where I wish I was dead.
David: 1 minute of the former, 58 minutes of the latter. I’m not sexy… unless you like screaming and sweat. I actually sat down on the stage last night and left a puddle just from my own buttock sweat, which isn’t sexy, is it. Is it?
Alex: A puddle is just a spilt tall glass of water!
Have you thought about what Planet Caramel itself would be like if you ruled it?
David: I think it would be populated by nice boys just being friends. Girls would be allowed too.
So, you don’t have an agenda in particular?
David: I want to be nice, a lot of sketch groups aren’t nice, a lot of comedy isn’t nice.
Alex: Exactly. We don’t like doing dark edgy stuff for the sake of looking clever. The sketches are all ideas that have tickled us.
Richard: Comedy needn’t have a point; when it does it’s good. There’s a slight issue at the moment in that the shows we see promoted are often not the funniest but the most poignant or ‘significant’ shows.
David: (teasing) He’s getting defensive of us not getting shortlisted again.
Richard: I just think it’s strange that that’s almost a requirement of comedy now.
An hour with Planet Caramel proves them to be a comedy trio worth supporting: Richard, David and Alex really are ‘nice guys doing a nice thing’, bringing sharp sketches that amuse and amaze for fun’s sake. After a successful run of Rotations in Flavour Space, they are sure to be back to the Fringe next year with another raucous and unmissable light-speed sketch-show.