Ahead of Curio Comedy – an alternative showcase of the University of Salford’s most weird and wonderful comic talents, we spoke to Cabinet of Curiosities owner Charlotte Cropper to find out more about the trinkets and treasures it took to produce this show!
Hello Charlotte, tell us a bit about yourself!
Hello! I’m a third-year Media and Performance student, aspiring comic writer/performer and a complete nerd.
My time at University has been a whirlwind of adventures. I was lucky enough to be chosen to go to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2019 to perform as part of the SalFUNNI cohort, to have worked on some amazing projects during my degree in creative capacities and to also be chosen as a Chortle Student Comedy Award Finalist for 2020/21!
When the world wasn’t in a global pandemic, I worked part-time at the New Adelphi Theatre as an Usher. It’s fun to be the person putting on an event with NAT instead of ushering it, although I do miss the theatre so, so much! I love being creative and especially am interested in how social media and the digital world is influencing how we make art and television.
We miss you too! So, tell our reader’s how Curio Comedy came about…
With this being my final year at University, I wanted to put on a comedy show as a way of celebrating students and alumni, especially in light of the pandemic’s damaging impact on the comedy industry. I wanted to also give myself the experience of producing a show and collaborating with fellow creatives, and for the students and alumni taking part, Curio is also an opportunity for them to promote themselves and their comedy work to audiences. I hope that the showcase will be a great way for our audience to discover and support up-and-coming comedic talent from the University.
We hope so too, there’s so much talent here at Salford! Tell us more about the themes you’re exploring through the form and content of the showcase…
The mystical, fun theme of Curio was established early on in the process – I was feeling uncertain about life after graduation and uncertain about which acts were going to submit to the showcase…it just made sense to go with that ‘oooh, what is going to happen?’ vibe! Although in the show I am having a crisis about the future, I wanted to maintain a positive outlook and feel (as with my day-to-day life!) and so the music, colour palette and overall resolution to the show all follows that bright and cheery style. I purposely wanted this as it’s an extension of my comedy style and also is a stark contrast to your typical dingy basement comedy gig!
Comedy comes in many forms and I wanted to have a way of showcasing a variety of styles without it just being a disjointed compilation video. With the show being made remotely, I knew I needed a thematic device to make the journey from my hosting to an act’s clip seem less pandemic-y and more magical. That’s where the Cabinet of Curiosities came in.
In the show, we open up the cabinet and delve into the worlds of the acts, maintaining a mystical feel throughout. The phone call sections – where I ring up my trusted advisors – are more personable and informal. I have these moments in place of where audience interaction and normal MC responsibilities would be, as Curio is not a live show (but myself and the NAT will be on the live chat throughout the YouTube premiere!).
The Curio supporters and I released social media call-outs for the show in mid-December 2020, and then in January 2021, I finalised the acts and phone call advisors taking part. Looking at the finished show, I feel incredibly privileged to have been able to have so many talented students and alumni eager to take part, all with different styles of comedy, and also eager to promote the show on social media. They are absolute gems, all of them.
Comedy Writing and Performance Alum: Daves Rees and James Ormrod aka Not the Francos, Cerian Wilshere-Davies aka Cerian the Clown, Tom Short (who also studied on our Contemporary Performance Practice Masters).
Third-year Comedy Writing and Performance students: Joe Greenaway and Oli Willett as Pownd Sterlin’.
First-year English and Drama student: Beth Moore.
Plus special guests: BA TV and Radio alum Jack Gleadow, recent Media and Performance graduate Callad Gale and Contemporary Performance Practice alum Ash Cox.
We couldn’t agree more! Can you talk us through how the show was made, digitally?
I’m definitely not the most technically minded MAP (Media and Performance) student at the University, but experiences of editing using Adobe Premiere Pro in the Production Workshop module and my Practical Research Project (watch here) helped me massively to work out how to put the show together. In true pandemic fashion, I made the show remotely and filmed it in my living room, using green wrapping paper as a makeshift green screen! The acts and special guests also filmed their performances remotely and I compiled everything together using Curio Comedy art assets and my hosting sections to create a coherent timeline for the show.
I collaborated with some amazing artists to bring the aesthetic of the show to life; Eilidh Pollard composed original music and sound effects especially for Curio, and Deanna Osborne illustrated my background for the show, the Cabinet of Curiosities and all the acts in their teacups that you can already see on the posters. It was amazing to see my vision develop into an actual show over a matter of months.
The support of the New Adelphi Theatre and Salford Comedy Society has been incredible – Curio Comedy: Salford Showcase simply would not have existed without them.
It’s been our pleasure! Tell us, what have you learned from producing your first comedy show and what advice would you offer other emerging artists?
I have learned mostly that I love organising events like these! It’s been an absolute dream to have been able to produce a comedy show whilst having an umbrella of support from the New Adelphi Theatre and Salford Comedy Society.
My top tips would be:
- Plan for every moment and deadline – but be flexible to change.
- Ask for help and support. The trope of the suffering artist doesn’t need to become your reality. There are countless creatives out there looking for paid work, a project to help out on, or a new face to the industry that they can offer guidance to.
- Collaboration can open doors, strengthen existing relationships and make your show even more magical, so if you can – do it!
- If the project ever becomes too stressful or complicated, take a step back to recalibrate. Remember why you’re doing this, why it’s important, and why you need to persevere. That being said – if it’s making you ill, take 100 steps back and refer back to tip 2.
- Hire/Purchase an extra light. There will be an unexpected shadow at one point from the green screen that you’ll only see once you’re in post-production and it will become the bane of your editing existence.
Fantastic advice! Before we go, tell us (without looking at your Magic-8 Ball) what does the future look like for Croppa Choppa and Curio Comedy?
I hope it looks alright, ha! The world right now isn’t the best for someone like me who functions on a clear plan of action – I have had to really switch up my mindset during the pandemic. Now, I’m much more flexible to change and open to new opportunities, which is great for the ad-hoc freelancing industry I’m about to graduate into.
My ideal future looks like: staying in the North West, working in creative roles in scripted/live/entertainment sectors, and continuing to make comedy and performance/production opportunities for others whilst no one needs me on their panel shows (yet 😉). I would absolutely love to make a live version of Curio Comedy and use the Salford Showcase as a springboard for future productions within the CC brand, and essentially just keep trying to slot my 5 ½ sized shoe into the door of the industry as many times as possible until they let me in or I break my foot 😊 in which case…I’ll swap to the other foot!
Watch this space… Thanks Charlotte!
“We’re delighted to be supporting more and more of our homegrown student talent, and Curio Comedy is another example of how NAT want to work with our creative student community. Charlotte had the idea and the NAT team simply worked with her to bring this to life. We hope this will be the first of many Curio Comedy nights and we’re ready to support other seedling projects – so get in touch!” – Niki Woods, Artistic Director.
“Remember Charlotte’s Tip 2… We’re here for you, maybe not physically just yet, but we do share opportunities, news, resources and more daily over on our social media! We also host Employability Masterclasses and produce all of your outward-facing festivals and performances, so connect with us!” – Ash Cox, FOH, Audience Development and Social Media.
Tune into Curio Comedy on Wednesday 14 April at 7pm on YouTube (ding the bell to receive a reminder).