Edinburgh Festivals Magazine

No Business in Show Business

The Hoosiers take a satirical swipe at the drive to be famous as they take an unexpected detour into comedy. Drummer Alan Sharland fills us in

Tell us about your show.

Self-Help Yourself Famous is a musical comedy based loosely on our brief, seductive flirtation with fame. Felix Scoot (Irwin) and Lee Delamere (Al) invite the audience to attend their self-help seminar on ‘How to become Famous’. It starts as a celebration of fame and then aims to expose its sickly trappings in what we feel is an honest, if often odd, portrayal of our experiences as ‘global megastars’ (kindly create and insert a “tongue-in-cheek” emoji here). As the seminar rumbles on, the wheels begin to fall off, revealing the toll fame has taken on the pair’s relationship and mental wellbeing. It’s just the two of us on-stage (though we can neither confirm or deny rumours that the ghost of Elvis makes a cameo in Act VIII), but we will be performing some self-penned “show tunes”, such as “No-one Wants a Selfie With The Drummer” and “Computer Lips”. We even throw out a few shapes. Heck yeah, we dusted off our tap shoes and our hip hop hats.

What inspired you to move into comedy?

To speak for Irwin, he’s an avid lover of the sound of his own voice and so I presume he didn’t want to restrict this love affair to the live-band, after-dinner and sixth-form assembly circuits. We always liked bands that showed a bit of character in their songwriting. Bands like The Flaming Lips, XTC, Supergrass and the Kinks always intrigued us. Lyrically, we try to surprise each other and love the idea of communicating an idea through a medium. That’s something that both music and comedy share. During a Hoosiers gig our mid-set talks have become the stuff of folklore, we imagine. We’re convinced people who aren’t in the least bit concerned about Ray still come to the shows to hear our off-the-cuff patter. We think. It was only a matter of time before the chat took centre-stage. This is that moment.

As well as bonding over bands, as lifelong frenemies I’ve found Al has learnt so much from my highly evolved sense of humour. Plus, through the process of taking a turn in the music industry grinder, we’ve had to rely on a sense of humour to find the funny side. The music industry is also quite a dark and solitary place, so we were keen to share our story. Basically, what I’m saying is that this is our unique, self-indulgent therapy. And anyone who comes to see it … and please do … will be our councillors.

How are The Hoosiers fans reacting to the news?

Like it’s Christmas all over again. We’ve been gigging for such a long time that I think they’ll be excited to see something different. I don’t think this will be completely unexpected – Irwin has acted before, and we have both written plays and musicals. Indeed, the Hoosiers fans who have journeyed all these years with us will know that we do like a new challenge, and I hope we’ve done ‘em proud.

How are you feeling about bringing your show to Edinburgh?

We have always loved gigging in Scotland: they have the best crowds: facty-fact. I have been to the Fringe as a punter twice now and completely fell in love with it. So many talented people and it feels like everyone is all on the same team. Sometimes, especially in music when you get bands together, it feels a little segregated and competitive. I think the Fringe absolutely embodies the word ‘Festival’. In terms of performing, I am incredibly excited and nervous. We are definitely leaving the comfort zone. This will be the first time since I was at primary school that I have done anything like this – what a buzz. Basically, what I’m saying is that you should donate us an hour of your time, but bear in mind that we do operate a zero refund policy.

Felix and The Scootermen: Self-Help Yourself Famous, Underbelly Bristo Square, 31 July – 26 Aug (not 10), 4.40pm, from £7