‘Arms is still trying to untangle the lights from last year’
Comedy trio Foil, Arms and Hog on the ‘Irishisms’ in their sketches, how they spend Christmas and their plans for global dominance
Foil, Arms and Hog: “Our strategy for global dominance started in the 19th century with the mass emigration of the Irish people.”
What’s been your most surprising or unexpectedly successful sketch?
The one about Irish people not being able to speak Irish. We speak lots of Irish in the sketch and thought we’d be alienating most of our audience, but people all over the world were loving it. It’s our fastest-growing hit to date.
Your ‘Irishisms’ have travelled well via your Facebook sketches, but do you have to tame the references when you’re on tour?
Absolutely. When gigging for a month in Scotland about 10 years ago, we talked about a ‘sliced pan’ in a sketch. We presumed everyone was imaging a pre-sliced loaf of bread, but they were actually imagining a sliced-up frying pan. No one told us for 26 shows – oddly, though, they still laughed at the joke. But since then, every show undergoes a vigorous check for Irishisms. Despite that, we’re relatively big in India. Go figure.
What’s your biggest source of inspiration?
Individually, we like very different styles of comedy, from Lee Evans to the Marx Brothers to the Naked Gun movies. Collectively, we liken ourselves to The Supremes.
You guys spend a lot of time together – what are the qualities you both like and dislike about each other?
Are you trying to start a fight? We’re all so different to each other and that’s probably why we work well together. Arms is quite emotional, he can never really hide his feelings on something. Hog can be fairly obsessional – if he’s thinking on a problem, the office could fall down around him and he wouldn’t even notice. Foil is a bit of an all-rounder, a natural leader, and the guy who usually talks to the press.
Do you see each other over Christmas?
It’s a chance for time apart. When you add up all the time we’re touring, we probably live together for about three months a year and when we’re not touring, we’re in the office working on the filmed sketches. Having said that, we do always make sure the three of us have an office Christmas party. And, of course, we still meet up to make a video that week because we can’t stand to be apart. Love!
Decorations – where do you stand on them?
Depends who you’re asking. Foil has gone for a minimalist Christmas, Hog’s house looks like Santa’s grotto, and Arms is still trying to untangle the lights from last year.
Who’s the biggest humbug?
Foil is the biggest humbug, based mostly on is his hatred of that seasonal radio station Xmas FM. Hog is probably the most enthusiastic, although he does do all of his Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve . . . so let’s say Arms, instead.
What presents will you buy each other this year?
Obviously, we can’t tell you the answer to this. It would completely ruin the surprise. But two years ago Arms got a trumpet – he hasn’t played it yet and I’m not annoyed.
What does 2020 hold for Foil, Arms and Hog?
It’s actually the start of our 12th year together – which in sketch comedy years is like, 58. The 2020 plans are just to keep on touring and keep making the videos. We’ve got a big Irish and UK tour, we’ll be back in the US and maybe Australia as well. Our strategy for global dominance started in the 19th century with the mass emigration of the Irish people. Now, wherever we go in the world, there seems to be these amazing mobs of Irish at the gigs to welcome us.
Are you going to make any New Year’s resolutions?
Zero-carbon touring. Now that it’s written down and published, we have to do it.
Finally, if you could make one Christmas wish, what would it be?
A Foil, Arms and Hog franchise. We want to be gigging in Dublin while an all-Aussie FA&H are ripping it up in Sydney.
Foil, Arms & Hog play Vicar Street, Dublin, on December 11th, 15th, 18th and 19th, as well as countrywide dates in January and February. See foilarmsandhog.ie for full tour dates