SAMMY J AND RANDY: AN ALTERNATIVE COMEDY DUO
by Suzi Owen
Sammy J & Randy Feltface emerged late last year as what could be one of television’s great comedy duos.
The thrice AACTA nominated Sammy J & Randy in Ricketts Lane, which premiered on ABC’s iview in October last year, is the culmination of years upon years of blood, purple ball-sweat and Sammy J tears. Like Laurel & Hardy, Basil & Manuel, Rick & Vyvyan, Bernard & Manny or Stefanovic & Wilkinson – Sammy J & Randy are friends who hate in one another what audiences love.
With toe-tapping ear-worms like, “All I Need Is Your Trust/Credit Card” and “I Wanna Bang You In the Toilets,” Sammy J & Randy’s songsmithary is not just catchy and relatable (see titles above) but it’s what sets them apart in their sojourn from stage to screen.
Sammy J is every bit the “dud” and Randy the “grape faced prick” they’re purported to be in their brash, sing-along comedy hit.
“Sadly, the truth of the matter is that there’s very little between our characters and us,” says the cordial Sammy J.
So little in fact, that one could say the use of the word, character, is a complete misnomer, as is the use of the word, puppet.
“Randy doesn’t like the word puppet. Randy? How do you respond when I say the word, puppet?”
“Randy? How do you respond when I say the word, avocado?”
“See, you can’t take it too personally,” assures Sammy J.
“Love me some Sammy J and Randy. They’re hilarious,” tweeted Tony award winner Neil Patrick Harris.
A puppet loving, song ‘n’ dance MD from way back, Neil Patrick Harris reckons Ricketts Lane was a “good get” by Seeso, the 6-episode season a recent pick-up by NBCUnivercial’s new digital comedy channel.
The success of Ricketts Lane is like a lit fuse to the powder-keg that is the flesh/felt pairs up-coming Melbourne International Comedy Festival show, Sammy J & Randy Land, which sees the duo leave suburbia for the carny life.
“Randy hasn’t exactly overseen the park as planned,” Sammy J concedes. “I wanted simple dodgem cars and a petting zoo.”
“Aaand I wanted a strip club and a giant dome shaped like my head, full of monkeys,” says Randy.
At the suggestion certain elements could be combined, Feltface is quick to respond: “Yes, you could train the monkeys to strip.”
The popularity of Ricketts Lane has indeed shown us how far we’ve progressed as an audience – the dark old days of sexually inappropriate, insentient T.V characters like Agro, Ossie Ostrich, Marty Monster and Robert Hughes are gone. Randy dazzles a more sophisticated, digitally-native audience, as the sexually inappropriate, insentient T.V character now available on iview.
A stage duo going on too many years – Sammy J once dumped Randy mid Edinburgh Fringe, anointing another comic as his replacement.
“One day you’re going to wake up and you’re going to have that shocking realisation – I am part of a man-puppet duo,” muttered Sammy J, as he adorned his successor with his trademark orange tie.
Anything but lost without his mate, the daggy neck tie quickly become a noose, Randy matter-of-factly explaining to his new counterpart that he was ‘gonna need some money up-front’ and a place to live.
Playing at The Athenaeum, March 29 – April 3, Sammy J & Randy Land promises to tickle the ribs of the I liked them waaaay before Ricketts Lane crowd and the less switched-on Sammy J is an amazing ventriloquist crowd – ‘dead-shits’ Randy might call them.
“It’s alarming how many people sit through an hour long show of ours and still think it’s ventriloquism.”
“It’s amazing how he does the piano at the same time,” derides Randy.
Sammy J & Randy Land is definitely not going to be the fairy floss fuelled fun park Sammy J probably day-dreamed about in a naive poperatic sing-sing. Let’s just say, things might not be double-bolted at Sammy J & Randy Land.
“S**t’s gonna go bad pretty quick,” warns Sammy J.
“I think we made that pretty clear in our promotional material. This is not a show you want to see if you value life.”
When, after too many stiff Oolong’s, John Faine became foolhardy enough to have Sammy J & Randy on The Conversation Hour, he did surmise that “there will probably be some mayhem.”
It seems the signature Faine scrutiny was not applied as firmly to the guest selection process as it is to Dan Andrews nuts – indeed, it was conversational chaos. Mayhem is the word – Faine was right.
“One of our shows has gone on having St. Johns Ambulance on standby near the exits,” says Sammy J.
“We like to treat our comedy audiences in a sort of Darwinian manner. We think that if they’re not only going to buy tickets but also survive ‘till the end, they’re worthy of a quick selfie after the show.”
“Sign my dressings, sign my cast” is what Randy expects (felt fingers crossed) from the post show meet and greets.
“It’s The Hunger Games of comedy” affirms Sammy J, where the most resilient survive and the weak perish.
“Most reviews will just be…” “…written from the casualty ward.”
If you’d like to be one of the surviving charred few, Sammy J & Randy Land tickets are now available through Ticketek (and Ricketts Lane still features on iview. Four months and counting – take that Mark Scott).
Sammy J & Randy Land, Melbourne International Comedy Festival, 29 March – 03 April and 12-17 April, Athenaeum Theatre 188 Collins Street, Melbourne. To book, visit www.comedyfestival.com.au/2016/season/shows/sammy-j-randy-land.