Behind the Scenes: The Awkward Silence

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We are The Awkward Silence, a comedy sketch double-act based in Oxford but clambering up to London whenever possible. We are Ralph Jones (me) and Vyvyan Almond (him); I write all of our material but Vyvyan makes up for this by being a better actor. We run and host two monthly nights, both of which are ruddy great: one’s in Oxford, called Laughter Track, and the other’s in London, called The Awkward Silence + Special Guests. At the last Laughter Track Vyvyan smashed one of the venue’s lights with a tennis racquet; he’s a passionate performer.

At our Special Guests night, which has been running for almost two years, we have hosted performers like Isy Suttie, Paul Foot, Simon Munnery, The Pajama Men, and The Penny Dreadfuls. We began at the Etcetera Theatre but are now at the Wilmington Arms, a fantastic venue in Clerkenwell. Our next night there is November 28.

Laughter Track takes place monthly at the Port Mahon on St. Clement’s, and the next two are scheduled to be on November 19 and December 12. On November 19 we are commemorating the 412th birthday of Charles 1 and on December 12 – well, we all know what December 12 is. It’s Bill Nighy’s birthday. So, we’ll be raising a toast to Bill and the evening’s entertainment will revolve exclusively around him (not literally). Our Oxford night is very dear to us because we are able to showcase some of the wonderful talent that Oxford has to offer: a poet named George Chopping, for example, or Paul Fung, a sickeningly good stand-up. 

As a sketch group, people often ask what kind of thing we do, which is a curious thing: I can’t imagine stand-ups being asked the same question very often. I therefore find myself using the words ‘surreal’, ‘weird’, and ‘lots of different characters’ far too often, none of which sells the product to the person asking. Prominent reference points are also hard to find, so I find myself comparing us to Little Britain or Monty Python simply because they are well-known, not because we are particularly alike. (Some people say they haven’t heard of Monty Python, at which point I just slice off their legs with a chainsaw.) What I mean is that we are at our strongest when we are inhabiting strange and wonderful worlds with strange and wonderful characters; I believe our strength lies in portraying a range of accents, ages, weirdos etc. Mind you, we also have a sketch in which we just make hideously orgasmic noises while playing tennis.

Our website, should you wish to peruse some of our material while stroking your face, is www.theawkwardsilence.co.uk.

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