Crizards duo, Eddy Hare (EH) and Will Rowland (WR) sit down with Katerina Partolina Schwartz to talk about their new Fringe hour, Crizards: This Means War, their solo shows and surprise puppets.

It’s just a fun world of all the associations you have with those wars without really getting into any specific details

Where does the name ‘Crizards’ come from?

Will Rowland: Me and Eddy were at university together, and our first double act name was actually just our surnames – Rowland and Hare – and there’s a really old Twitter account with just 4 followers that you can find. Crizards specifically comes from a sketch that we had. It was a Harry Potter based sketch where Hagrid comes to a boy like Harry and says, “Harry, you’re a crizard,” and Harry says, “I don’t understand, I don’t know what you mean. Do you mean wizard ‘cause I don’t know what a crizard is?” And Hagrid is like, “No it just says ‘crizard’ on this piece of paper,” and it went on like that. And we just liked the name from that, but it just came from a silly in-joke.

Eddy Hare: And the first five minutes that we did was just playing on that, explaining why we’re called Crizards.

WR: Our signature sketch explains why we’re called Crizards and that sketch was meant to be the big climax of that set but obviously it’s quite anti-climactic because it’s like, “well, what is that?”

EH: A made-up word was always our idea.

WR: Also, it’s got good search-engine optimization, cause there’s nothing else called ‘Crizards’ because it’s not a word, so that’s an advantage.

EH: Yeah... we’re brutal businessmen at heart.

What’s your elevator pitch for Crizards: This Means War?

WR: The show is Eddy trying to tell his grandad’s war stories, the stories that his grandad told him as a child, with me thinking that the show is serious and boring and trying to make the show more fun by changing the story as it goes through. So, it’s me and Eddy coming into conflict about whether the subject of war should be treated seriously or whether you can have fun with the subject. It’s a lot more narratively interesting than last year’s show which was us vaguely trying to cross a desert.

What are you looking forward to at the Fringe this year?

EH: Last year I joined a gym near me and it had a sauna in it, and I would try to go to the sauna every day. That was a big treat for me because I don’t go to a sauna that often, so I’m looking forward to that.

WR: Six or seven hours in the sauna.

EH: Six or seven hours in the sauna, dry my throat out, straight to the show.

WR: I’m looking forward to the room. The room in Pleasance that we have is a really nice room; a bigger stage with nice, rigged seating and lighting that we can do stuff with. We’re going to have a haze machine, that’s going to be fun. I’m playing lots of different characters, whilst last year I just played myself and the one cowboy character, so that’s something I’m looking forward to. I get to wear lots of different hats and just be silly.

EH: I’m just playing one character, well, Eddy and Eddy’s grandad, but I’m trying to see it like I’m acting in a play more than last year. It’s not what I’m used to and it’s quite fun. We also have a puppet, but the way the puppet looks is a surprise.

WR: We have a really mad-looking puppet.

EH: The story has a lot more moving parts in terms of stuff in it. It’s quite a fun challenge – making things more complex like that. I am looking forward to seeing other shows as well. We’re both doing solo shows so we might have less time than we did last year. This year I might not end up seeing as many shows until later on when I’m a bit more relaxed. The first half of it we’re going to be more engaged adding things and making small changes, making it better.

Speaking of your solo shows, how are you managing with having that extra hour on your own?

WR:, I have done two shows a day before - not for a whole run- but I did find that it was really good. We’ve got our stand up shows before we go and do Crizards. My stand-up show is very loose, it’s going to be talking to the audience and it’s a bit of a work in progress and it’s a shorter show, so I think that will just get me nice and loose for the Crizards show later, because I will have just… I want to say broken the seal, but I don’t know if that’s the right expression. You know what I mean.

EH: I think I feel similar, my solo show is going to be a loose 45, maybe 50, but it’s just a big mash of bits I’ve been doing over the past year in stand-up gigs. It’s more a case of what order things should be in. I’ll be doing some crowd work as well. I mainly just want to have fun with it really and because it’s a PBH thing as well; I want to make sure everyone has fun but it’s less pressure in terms of “oh everyone’s paid 10, 12 pounds to come and see this, it has to be really good.” It’s more that I want people to have fun and enjoy it.

WR: For both of us, the Crizards show has been the main thing to make sure that it is really good. And the stand-up shows are just a fun thing.

EH: We were really lucky in that we were able to get our solo shows not that far from the Crizards show, cause then you have one big adrenaline spike in the day and not two. It’s like if the Crizards show was really late and then had our shows in the afternoon or vice versa, that’d be harder to manage.

WR: I thought I’d be splitting my time 50-50 writing Crizards and writing stand-up, but it’s actually been 95 Crizards, which makes sense because it’s a paid show in a proper venue. We really want people to have a good time, we want people who came last year to come back. Also, make it better than last year.

EH: The fact that it’s in a bigger room with more tech capabilities, you want to make sure you’re making the most of that. I don’t know what Will’s is like, but my PBH room is like an alcove in a pub. The ceiling is quite low with how ambitious I can be with it.

WR: And the actual room.

How do you keep a balance between being respectful of the history, but since it’s a comedy show, making it funny?

WR: Just having self-awareness of what our limitations are. I’m not an expert, but from what I know about soldiers and people who’ve gone off to fight, is they are constantly joking and they can have very bleak, gallows sense of humour when they’re deployed, which goes further than anything we’re doing. I hope this happens and I hope that we can actually talk to somebody - I like to think that if somebody who’d actually fought came to see it, then they would also find it funny. One of the things is, we don’t show any fighting, there aren’t any enemies and there’s no mention of real history or anything- it’s very silly and very clearly loosely based on the real war. With the cowboy show, it was very clear that we didn’t know what we were talking about and it’s the same with this really. We have done our research, but we haven’t tried to make a historically or factually accurate or make any huge points about the war or anything.

EH: At first, we even thought that it would be good to keep it quite vague. When we first started working on it, we started talking about trying to make it about all wars, and have the whole thing be a mixture of references and having a dynamic where I’m really, really interested in war, sort of obsessed with it. Kind of like the guy who’d hang out at an army surplus and Will’s not interested at all, but then we realised that it created too many different things to address properly within an hour. So we simplified it to it being me telling one specific story about my grandad.

WR: And we never really say which war it is, it’s just implied. Timeline-wise it just makes sense that it’s World War II, but it’s really a mixture of World War I and World War II settings. It’s just a fun world of all the associations you have with those wars without really getting into any specific details.

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