I was sailing in unchartered waters the other day, as I am want to do during what free time I can scrabble back from the universe. The water ebbed and flowed and all was peaceful. Waves of blue beneath me, glorious sky blue above. I must have dozed off for a moment or two because there was one hell of a crash. I was airborne for longer than seemed reasonable, but luckily the island that had splintered my boat in twain also broke my fall with a pain inducing indifference that, frankly, I am still annoyed about. My head connected with a rock rather hard and everything got a little bit woozy after that.
My rescuers came in the form of three ladies with gleeful looks in their eyes and tails for legs. Well, no legs at all actually. Just tails flapping about with piscine playfulness. At least, that’s what I think I saw through my probable concussion. Anyway, after they fed me some dubious looking berries we got talking about web series. I’m always keen to discuss web series, head injury or no head injury.
I decided that proper introductions are polite when people attend to your wounds. ‘I’m Mike,’ I said, ‘and I write about web series.’ ‘Hello,’ they replied in unison. ‘We are Emma Rasmussen, Heather Darcy and Natasha (‘Tash’) Velyn Golup.’ They pointed to the blonde, then brunette and then redhead respectively. ‘Together we form a sketch trio called ‘Don’t Shoot The Mermaid’ and we write, produce and perform in sketches for film.’ They produced a laptop (which, in retrospect, was strange) and showed me a variety of side-clutching skits involving over use of Vaseline on lips, scripted dating, and good music for happy vaginas. I laughed, a lot. Each one of these watery women had superb comic timing, their sketches contained a deft flick of the bizarre, and their productions were impressively professional.
Amazed at this serendipitous situation in which I now found myself I remembered my sworn duty to ComedyTVisDead back when I was plucked from the writing gutter with the promise of all the sandwiches I could eat (my contract simply had ‘write about web series’ printed 20,000 times in varying colours and fonts). I pulled out a my trusty note pad and took the opportunity to question Emma, Heather and Tash about Don’t Shoot The Mermaid and how they achieve writing, producing, editing and acting in a sketch based web series.
MR: Hello! Can you describe Don’t Shoot The Mermaid in 20 words or less? For extra incentive, imagine for every word you spill over 20 someone somewhere stubs their toe really badly
ER: We’re a slippery, scaly sketch trio who dive into the everyday grotesque, writhe around in the misfortune of others and spend too much of our daily fat intake on wine and crisps.
TG: Just so you know.
HD: Sorry to the twelve people who stubbed their toe there – we probably could have skipped the ‘wine and crisps’ bit, but felt it was essential.
MR: Before forming Don’t Shoot The Mermaid you performed along with two others as the sketch comedy group, ‘Zeus’ Pamphlet’. Tell me how Zeus’ Pamphlet was formed? Was there a joint vision?
ER: After a long stint in therapy coupled with daily affirmations in the mirror, I finally worked up the courage to get some of the sketches that I’d written out of my bottom desk drawer and in front of an audience. I put a casting call out to meet other comedy writer/performers interested in forming a sketch group.
HD: She picked VERY wisely!
ER: Yeah yeah, and the mighty Zeus was born. As a fivesome we all threw our material into the ring and had a big play with it
TG: …and sometimes a ‘playful’ punch-up
HD: …and from there we started gigging in and around London, then headed up to Edinburgh Festival for a month in August 2011
TG: …where we performed inside the belly of a cow that stunk of mould, and spent most of our time off-stage in matching yellow rain macs with giant foam lightning bolts on our heads.
ER: Well… we don’t like to make a scene.
MR: What inspired the change from live stage to a web series?
ER: When we left Zeus’ Pamphlet to form Don’t Shoot The Mermaid we felt strongly that the type of comedy we wanted to make was better suited to film.
HD: …and we realised we were having more and more ideas for largely female sketches, so decided to take that leap.
TG: This gave us more scope to explore and indulge ourselves in different styles.
HD: We also thought it would be a good way to get our sketches out to more people, as you don’t even have to leave your bed to watch them!
ER: Always a plus… the short answer though, is that we’re basically just a bunch of control freaks.
TG: …and we do love a bit of set dressing… it’s a great excuse to go shopping, and there’s often food involved.
ER: It’s like “yeahhh this sketch might need a bagel”
HD: Ooooh, but we’d better get extras just in case we get attacked by pigeons, you never know.
ER: Yeah, let’s get a tray