Breast in show: WitTank
Among the best new sketch acts around, WitTank are more than just a dodgy pun. Brian Donaldson hears how they are licking the opposition
When you’re gathering up your all-shiny new comedy group, a few key questions have to be posed. Do we go for silly or scary sketches? How many members are too many? And most crucially of all, what the hell do we call ourselves? Whatever you may think of WitTank as a name (and it does serve the dual purpose of being a ‘clever’ pun while making you think of a container of humour), the Durham team could have landed themselves with a far worse moniker.
‘Some of them really were rubbish,’ recalls original WitTanker, Naz Osmanoglu. ‘When we first started no one was quite sure who everyone else was. Mark thought Kieran was Russian for the first six months because he didn’t say anything and had an odd face and we came up with lots of bad names.’ One of which was Yehudi Did It which thankfully didn’t quite make the cut. ‘Another was something horrific like Scombroidal Mackerel and was eventually rejected. And so we thought we’ll go with, well, a tit joke and it suited us for the first few years.’
As with many good things, WitTank arose out of defeat. After Durham Revue’s round of rehearsals four years ago, several of those who would end up as part of the WitTank family were handed their rejection slips. ‘Initially, it was born out of failure,’ recalls Kieran Boyd. ‘Myself, Naz and Mark didn’t get through, but were informed that a group was set up in opposition to the Revue every year though they never seemed to last.’
WitTank though, were in it for the long run and, as Osmanoglu insists, ‘we were fierce rivals for the first few years because WitTank became more popular than the Revue.’ Certainly on the evidence of both group’s 2008 Fringe shows, WitTank outshone their rivals for innovation, performance and material, with routines about towels and Princess Diana all hitting their target. This year the quartet, completed by Guy Corbett (angry, geeky) and Mark Cooper-Jones (intelligent, rude), will also be flexing their comedic muscles with a stand-up show under the banner of their club, Comedy Baby. Tawdry name or not, it’s one you’ll be hearing more of very soon.
Comedy Baby, The Rowan Caves, 226 0000, 8–29 Aug (not 18, 26), 1pm, free; WitTank, The Caves, 208 0882, 8–30 Aug (not 18), 5.30pm, £8 (£7). Previews 6&7 Aug, £4 (£3.50).