Ed and Tom Croft have been making waves on the high seas of live entertainment with a range of comedy songs, but dedicate a chunk of their repertoire to parodying well-known pop songs in the style of pirates. Yes, pirates. More about that later.
Mitch Benn and Neil Morrissey were among those at Saturday night’s Musical Comedy Awards, that had seen Jollyboat make their way through the heats and semi-finals to secure a place in the last five and eventually be crowned winners. Originally from Hebden Bridge, younger brother Ed came to Liverpool to study at LIPA. Tom followed on to help him complete his final year project, and Jollyboat was born. In the last year they have become familiar faces on the open mic circuit at venues like Mello Mello and Egg Café, then waded into the bear pit of the stand up circuit with a successful slot at Rawhide Raw before moving on to paid gigs almost straight away.
Tom said: “We live together and we’ve always got on well, the only time we argue is when we’re writing songs. In general, I’m good at writing long lists of jokes and Ed’s good at putting it to a tune.
“We found from the open mic nights that the comic songs always went down well. Then, when we went on to Rawhide Raw we were worried if we’d be funny enough, as we’d never really seen live comedy before. There’s a lot to learn and it’s all coming at once – we’re busy on pretty much every front.”
The unusual love of piracy has been part of what they do for much longer, and was actually inspired by their love of The Secret of Monkey Island – as far as we know, the world’s only intentionally funny pirate computer game. As teens, Tom and Ed dreamed of making their own game, and so began their fondness for writing pirate-themed songs. The rest is becoming history.
Straddling the cabaret and comedy scenes, Jollyboat went up to the Edinburgh Fringe last year with a show that, although well-received, they admit didn’t quite have enough funny material, spaced out as it was with straight songs and storytelling. They’re heading up again this year with an hour of dedicated musical comedy and, with the award plus a lot more comedy club experience behind them, are ready to make an impact.
Before then, some dates for your diary: Jollyboat will preview the show at the Liverpool Comedy Festival at Baa Bar on May 2, and before that are also taking part in Laughterhouse’s New Act Competition on March 30. Arrr.