Interview with Flo & Joan

Flo & Joan take some time to talk to Voice about the show, their inspirations, and to give advice to young people.

Interview with Flo & Joan

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?

Hello! We are musical comedy duo, and sisters Flo & Joan. Our real names, if you see us in public, are Nicola and Rosie Dempsey.

How would you describe your show?

It's a new hour of our musical comedy songs that are dark, silly, topical, satirical, light and dumb, and hopefully an hour of distraction from the outside world!

Why do you want to perform at Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

It's just cool, isn't it?! We both visited a few times as spectators, many moons ago, so it felt like a big deal to be able to bring a little show to the biggest arts festival in the world!

What differentiates it from other festivals?

We haven't played any other fringe festivals, but Edinburgh comes with a lot of history that everyone is excited to be a part of. And it's just massive! There is not one single person who could go to that festival and not find something they enjoy. That's pretty awesome.

Do you think the Fringe has changed over the years? If so, how? Are these changes positive or negative?

We've only been once, so we're not much of an authority on this! But change is natural and expected. We can answer this better next year!

What first motivated you to enter the industry? Who were your inspirations?

We didn't have a motivation to enter the industry as such. We've been living in Canada for the last three years and started Flo & Joan as something to do there, but not with the intention of entering the industry. The comedy scene is amazing and inclusive in Toronto, and because of this we got better, decided to give Edinburgh a go, and off the back of last year have found ourselves getting into the industry almost by accident, but we're very happy to be here now! As for inspirations, Victoria Wood is a huge influence on us and was our first exposure to musical comedy when we were very young. As adults Tim Minchin was another musical comedy performer we were hugely inspired by, but do not try to emulate. We are also massive Smack the Pony fans.

If you didn't have your current job, what would you probably be doing?

Rosie: My current job is a butcher AND I LOVE IT. So yes, I'd probably carry on with that.

Nicola: I was an admin assistant for an arts centre for my work experience, and I also interned at a funeral director when I was younger so potentially either of those?

If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?

Rosie: A weather reporter, so I could wave my hands frantically in the air and talk about the wind.

Nicola: I would love to be a forensic scientist or something cool and intricate and important like that. But I have a weak stomach and puke very easily so the gross innards would really do a number on me.

What is your earliest childhood art memory?

Rosie: I drank candle oil once when I was a baby and I think it was my inner artist trying to make a statement.

Nicola: I used to spend a lot of time as a kid using plaster of Paris in those rubber moulds of rabbits and animals that you would leave to set and then paint. Art in the grander sense - I was in a production of the King and I when I was four, and I vividly remember the smell of the hall where I auditioned and eating Fruit Salad Chewits when it was done.

Do you ever feel any pressure to be a social commentator, or constantly update material to respond to events?

Sometimes you feel like you should be a social commentator, but especially in times like now people really want a break from reality altogether, even if it is fun to laugh at it. Apart from The 2016 Song which we released at the end of last year, we try to avoid it and offer a bit of levity with our satire, using little digs now and again, but nothing too heavy. We have a few jokes that we updated, but not entire songs or anything too drastic.

Equally, do you think there has been a shift in public sentiment that has affected your work?

People seem to respond well to our more absurd and silly stuff, but we've never done anything too different to it before. We've also been living in Canada where laughing at a Brexit joke comes with less weight because it was a thing happening 'over there' and 'not to us', the same with US politics. We'll see how it all fares in Edinburgh this year, at the eye of the hurricane.

Describe the last year in 5 words or less?

A colossal whoopsie.

If you could work with anybody, from any point in history, who would you pick and why?

Rosie: Carla Lane (writer of Bread, The Liver Birds, Butterflies). She wrote really funny women and was from Liverpool too which has a special place in our hearts.

Nicola: I would love to have worked with Jim Henson. His work was and is so important, and full of love and acceptance and fun. To even be employed simply to hold his Muppet while he went to the bathroom would have made my life.

Why would a performer opt to do either a ticketed event or participate in the free fringe? What are the benefits and limitations of both?

We can only tell you the benefits we found from doing Free Fringe, and next year will report back on ticketed. For Free Fringe it simply takes financial pressure off you. Everything at the door is yours! Spend it on beer! Taxis! Tesco meal deals! It's all yours! We were fortunate last year that because our show was later, lots of people were looking for one final show to see before heading home and were willing to take a punt on a free show. We drew a lot of audience that way, and then through word of mouth got in more. The people who work there are also great, the venue (The Newsroom) was awesome, and it was a brilliant choice for a first fringe experience.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to take a show up to the fringe?

DO IT! Just do it! Rehearse it, make your poster great, flyer the s*** out of it during the days, do wanky networking with other performers on social media, then when you get there just enjoy it! It is so so fun to make something and share it with a ton of strangers. ABSOLUTELY DO IT EVERYONE THE WORLD OVER!

When and where can people see your show?

3rd-26th August at 2.20pm (except Monday 14th August) at The Tron.

And where can people find, follow and like you online?

  • @floandjoan - Twitter
  • /floandjoan - Facebook
  • Youtube Flo & Joan!

Flo & Joan: The Kindness of Stranglers is performing at Just the Tonic at the Tron at 14:40 on 3rd – 26th August (not 14th). For tickets and more information visit the Ed Fringe website.


Tom Inniss

Tom Inniss Voice Team

Tom is the Editor of Voice. He is a politics graduate and holds a masters in journalism, with particular interest in youth political engagement and technology. He is also a mentor to our Voice Contributors, and champions our festivals programme, including the reporter team at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

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