Get To Know: The Pin

Radio comedy has seen a new lease of life in recent times and at the forefront of the resurgence are comedy duo The Pin. Having just finished the third series of their eponymous show on BBC's Radio 4 - riotous 30 minute episodes, expect many a giggle - we got in contact with them for the latest instalment of our 'Get To Know' series. Enjoy. 

What/why/when is The Pin?

What - two guys called Alex and Ben doing comedy together.
Why - very hard to say.
When - the third series of our Radio 4 show is currently available on the BBC iPlayer.

Where did you two meet?

At university. A tale as old as time.

Hey, so did The Tung! Right, in an age of video-calls, vines (RIP) and Youtube influencers, there is something intriguing about the aural entertainment of radio performance. What does radio bring that stage comedy can’t deliver on?

Well in terms of people’s entertainment habits it’s interesting that aural stuff has continued to do well, especially with podcasting obviously. It seems to have something to do with our need to be engaged 24/7, whatever we’re doing, at every moment. Since aural content can be consumed on a commute, in the car, on a walk or run, whilst cooking, etc, it continues to have a strong space in people’s habits. So if we can capitalise on our generation’s surely damaging addiction to constant stimulation: great! 

Much to our disappointment series 3 has now drawn to a close, how do you feel the show has developed and evolved since series one?

It’s quite subtle but the main evolution is probably that in series 1 it was a sketch show where sometimes the performers would talk to the audience, and by series 3 it’s more of a show about two guys trying to do a sketch show. So the emphasis has shifted more towards the relationship of ‘Alex and Ben’ to each other and the audience. More like The Muppets, hopefully.

We like that the show is performed in front of a live audience - we feel more involved when hearing the audience laugh too.  How does this affect your performance? Was this a concept you were adamant about or something you came around to?

We always leaned towards recording it in front of an audience. Because our background is in live performance and the Edinburgh Fringe and gigs and all that, it felt natural to replicate that fundamental dynamic with the radio show. Our producer agreed, so that was that. In terms of affecting our performance it just means we treat the recording as much as possible like a live stage gig. We can’t re-record something multiple times to get it right, so have to rehearse pretty thoroughly. Nightmare.

Sketch comedy is notoriously difficult to get right, how do you go about writing a skit? Is it first performed to friends, or do you wing it with a certain amount of praying to the comedy gods before each performance?

There’s obviously a fair amount of praying and ritualistic stuff, mainly from Ben, mainly with masks. But largely our writing process involves us pootling off separately in the morning to have a think, then meeting up a couple of hours later to pitch each other ideas. If an idea seems to have something to it we talk it over for a while, trying to find the best way to execute it. Then in the afternoon we’ll write up the three or four best ideas from the morning.

What does the future hold for the Pin? When can we see or hear you next?

We’ve got a few things in the slow cook oven. We’re doing a week at the Pleasance Islington in the autumn to fiddle around onstage with a view to maybe doing a bit of a tour in 2018. We’ve made an animated TV pilot we hope might become a series. A few other TV things just simmering away on a low heat. We’ll let you know if another pops out, buttery soft and falling off the bone.

Quick Fire Round

A song to start a party?

Alex - In the sense that every ending is also a new beginning I guess Journey's 'Don’t Stop Believing.'
Ben - Would never have the audacity to try to start a party. Politics is huge.

Podcast of the moment?

Alex - The Comedian’s Comedian is great if you like comedy.
Ben - The Tim Ferriss Show

Light lunch or dinner date?

Alex - Dinner date with my g/f. (Little does she know I squeezed a solo light lunch in earlier as well! Hee hee.)
Ben - No thanks. Thank you for the interview though. Cheers.

Instagram or Twitter?

Alex - Hate both, use both constantly.
Ben - Twitter please.

Cats or dogs?

Alex - Ben and I are definitely on the same page here: dogs.
Ben - cats.

‘Winter is coming’, how will you prepare?

Alex - Reboot my on-off relationship with central heating. I always come crawling back.
Ben - I’ll begin by explaining to Alex that it’s a Game of Thrones reference, and then harvest a series of blades made from dragonstone to fight the undead. Central heating on, never a bad shout.

- -

To listen to The Pin, Series 3 and the backcatlogue on BBC iPlayer click here