With his show Zomedy coming to the 13th Hour Horror Festival very soon (book Here!) funny man and zombie lover Tiernan Douieb answers all the big questions for Love Horror including what is the best zombie movie, what is the best zombie comedy and should they be fast or slow?
How did you get involved with comedy?
Tiernan Douieb: I cheated a bit. I did a drama degree at university and in the final year I took a course that specialized in stand-up comedy and realized it was a ton more fun than acting ever was.
Have you always loved horror?
Tiernan Douieb: Yes, but not all horror. I started watching ‘video nasties’ when I was far too young, round friend’s houses at sleepovers etc and remember being amazed at films like ‘Evil Dead’, ‘Pet Sematary’ and ‘The Re-Animator’ so I have a lot of love for that era of films. Even watching most of them back now, they had to use such clever techniques for special effects and had amazing ways of building tension. I’ve always been a huge fan of zombie films too and psychological horrors.
However, I get pretty tired of the endless gore stuff we have at the moment with little plot and overuse of special effects. I think its far worse when you’re made to imagine what happens to victims. The brain is a dangerous thing when left to its own devices. Right now, for example, I’m thinking of horrible things.
Your 2009 show 28 Years Later was about zombies, what kind of preparation and research goes into crafting a horror comedy show? I read the show contained a tenuously zombie linked rant about Kidulthood, can you fill us in?
Tiernan Douieb: It was all tenuously linked to zombies sadly. The show was mostly about my refusal to grow up properly and part of that was my insistence on still having a survival plan should a zombie apocalypse break out. This is something I take fairly seriously, especially after reading Max Brookes’ books (both the Survival Guide and World War Z).
I do things like keep a lot of tinned food in the house as it’ll keep if blocked in and you can use the lids as tiny ninja stars. So, yeah, along with the fact that I was 28 – so the title fitted nicely – and I love zombie films, it seemed ideal to cram as many references to it as possible. Paul Byrne, who directed and did the tech for the show, brought a toy machine gun to each show and we gave the audience a possible escape plan every day.
How did Zomedy and your involvement with the 13th Hour Horror Festival come about?
Tiernan Douieb: I’d been wanting to do an actually scary comedy show for sometime (unlike 28 Years Later which was just gags). I’d seen such live shows at The Witching Hour at the Edinburgh Festival a few years ago and Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson’s excellent Ghost Stories, and became amazed with how easy comedy and horror blend. Not only that, but how live horror is particularly effective on audiences. As a comic making people laugh becomes second nature, whereas making them jump is a whole new challenge.
I had a rough idea of combining my love for the undead with stand-up and Alleykat Productions and the Leicester Square Theatre have been foolish enough to let me go ahead with it! It’s a lot of organistion, and I’ve never had to deal with quite so much fake blood in my life, but it’ll all be very very worth it if the audience screams even once.
How do you go about writing a zombie comedy show when all zombies can say is ‘Brains’?
Tiernan Douieb: Hahaha yeah I did try doing a zombie character for a while where all I’d do is groan into the mic for as long as possible, before saying ‘What’s that all about?’ Ultimately you have to defy zombie laws and talk. The show itself isn’t all zombies doing stand-up. Keith Farnan is doing the history and facts about zombies, Frisky and Mannish are doing a zombie musical medley, Rich Fulcher has asked if he can bring his own costume and all of our acts have an individual take on the living dead.
You have some awesome guest stars in Zomedy like Frisky & Mannish, Ginger & Black, Rich Fulcher, Colin Hoult and Keith Farnan what was it like working with them all and who is your favorite?
Tiernan Douieb: We’ve all worked with each other before on the comedy circuit or at the Edinburgh festival at some point so we all get along pretty well. Most comedy types are know are very affable people and it makes dragging them into a silly zombie based project all the easier. I’m going to be irritatingly diplomatic and say I don’t have a favourite. I don’t want them tearing each other apart out of jealousy before they get zombified.
Online it says you also do comedy for kids, do you ever slip any zombie stuff in their intentionally or by mistake?
Tiernan Douieb: Yeah I co-run the Comedy Club 4 Kids which is a stand-up show for 6-11 year olds and their families, which we do all over the country. I do stick the odd zombie gag in wherever I can. Kids love talking about what scares them and they are far more macabre than most adults. Just the other day in Brighton I asked an 8 year old what he will dress up as for Halloween and he said ‘The Grim Reaper’. When I asked why he said ‘Because I’ve killed everyone where I live. Now it’s only me left. And it’s a bit boring.’ Amazing.
What’s the best zombie joke you ever wrote or heard?
Tiernan Douieb: Not mine, but I still like ‘What do vegetarian zombies eat? Graaiiiiinnnssssss.’ One of my own ones is: ‘Why are zombies always so confident? Once bitten, never shy.’ There are better ones but I’ll save them for the night. And if they don’t work, and I die onstage, at least at Zomedy I get to come back. Hee hee.
As a zombie loving comedian what really scares you?
Tiernan Douieb: Oddly, while not being all that scared of zombies, I’m crap at heights, spiders and scary big things in the sea. We’ve managed to explore space, yet we still haven’t explored the bottom of the world’s oceans. That’s properly terrifying. I’m also pretty scared of the current UK government, who are currently creating the most depressingly elitist country, where those are in need of help or care are ignored and deprived of benefits, and where the health service, our most important institution, is being destroyed. In a way, a zombie apocalypse would be a far less prejudiced society. They will eat anyone’s brains, regardless of class or wealth.
Fast zombies verses slow zombies, what say you?
Tiernan Douieb: Definitely slow. I love 28 Days Later and the more recent Dawn Of The Dead remake, but slow zombies have that horrible, inevitable death feeling about them. No matter how quick you run, now matter how fast you avoid them, they will eventually surround and destroy you. Though I’d love to see how quickly a Usain Bolt zombie would go.
What is your favorite zombie movie and why?
Tiernan Douieb: Tough question. I’ve recently become quite a fan of REC. That was the first film for a while where after watching it, I had to turn on all the lights and watch some happy things just to stop my heart from racing. Its only an hour and 15 mins long but in that manages to create some the best tension in a brilliantly claustrophobic zombie situation. Its between that, and the original Night Of The Living Dead, which I could watch on repeat again and again. It manages to do so much with just lighting tricks. Its the Third Man of zombie flicks.
And what is your favorite filmic zomedy?
Tiernan Douieb: It has to be Shaun Of The Dead. That film is pretty unbeatable. If this hadn’t been a separate question to the one above, I’d put that one as a favourite zombie movie too. I think any comedy becomes far more impressive when the other elements of the film are taken as seriously. Pegg, Frost and Wright have a love for zombie films , and you can see that in the way that Shaun is not only funny, but has some great jump moments and social commentary too.
What’s next for you after the festival run?
Tiernan Douieb: Lots of stuff. I’m currently working on a new hour of stand-up as well as a few projects that I can’t talk about just yet. Hopefully we’ll be able to put another Zomedy show on again before too long. Oh and I’ll continue to be wasting most of my life tweeting endlessly as I usually do.
Zomedy is on from the 30th and you can get tickets right Here.