"I found it incredibly touching and was amazed by how their friendship was at the core for their comedy and how smoothly they managed to be both funny and loving but blunt and brutal at the same time"Britney comedy

I talked to Ellen Robertson and Charly Clive about their upcoming show, BRITNEY in John, a few weeks before the upcoming preview on Wednesday 21st June. Having seen BRITNEY, I was curious to hear how this show would be different in terms of content and style. BRITNEY was a comedy sketch show that Ellen and Charly developed together when Charly was diagnosed with a brain tumour.

I found it incredibly touching and was amazed by how their friendship was at the core for their comedy and how smoothly they managed to be both funny and loving but blunt and brutal at the same time. When the show came to Cambridge, it had already had a full and successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe and in London, and seemed to run like a well-oiled machine.

This show will be the opposite of that, but in the best possible way: their new show is coming to Cambridge before being sent off to the Fringe and will be “so hot out the oven it’ll burn ya”. After having done BRITNEY so many times, they wanted to transition and started writing a show with a new show with a new story and the ambition to go bigger and further. There will be more tech in this show, and the overall scope, with more complex lighting, sound, video and costumes etc. is a lot more ambitious.

“There will be more tech in this show, and the overall scope, with more complex lighting, sound, video and costumes etc. is a lot more ambitious”

John is so fresh, when I spoke to them, they couldn’t even tell me exactly what it would look like. It tells the story of a road trip to America that 18-year-old Ellen and Charly went on together. At the time, they planned to make a cutting and observing documentary about politics in America by finding men named John Hancock in every state they visited and interviewing them.

But the documentary turned out not to be just as hard-hitting as they intended. They will be using the hours of footage from that, but perhaps not as they had originally intended. When re-watching the videos of a time when they both thought they were adults, they were struck by how much their perspective had shifted over just a few years.

The thing that became most clear during our interview, rather than anything specific about the content of the show, was just how funny Ellen and Charly are together. Even when they are just talking to each other, they are bursting with comedy – it is clear that they work well together, not just because they are great friends, but also because they are great comedians. Or, as they said, when I asked them how wearing the ‘friend hat’ and the ‘writer hat’ worked when they write the show together, “they are similar hats” and “we look really good in hats!”

In their own words, it is “really, really good comedy that you should see with your mates”

Their friendship shines through not just in the way they communicate, but also in their work: I remember the tenderness (but not cheesiness) of BRITNEY and can imagine John to be touching and lively in a similar way, a presentation of jokes that started as inside jokes but were too good not to be shared with the world. And if you’re still not convinced, it’s because you didn’t spend an hour listening to the two talking with insane amounts of energy about how “FUCKING EXCITED” they are about the show, all while constantly outwitting each other, and five seconds later, saying the most sweet things to and about each other.

BRITNEY in John is a new story, seen through a new lens, that you definitely shouldn’t miss if you enjoy comedy, road trips, or friendship. Or, in their own words, it is “really, really good comedy that you should see with your mates”

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