BWW Interviews: POTTED POTTER's Dan Clarkson & Jeff Turner
Playing to sold out houses all over the world, the Olivier Award nominated POTTED POTTER takes on the ultimate challenge of condensing all seven Harry Potter books (and a real life game of Quidditch) into seventy hilarious minutes. And now, two-time Olivier Award-nominated actors and show creators Dan Clarkson and Jeff Turner have brought this rollicking parody to the Off-Broadway stage for American audiences to enjoy.
The hilarious duo chatted with BWW about saving a nightly theater seat for JK Rowling and the pressures of performing a Harry Potter piece in front of some of the world's most obsessive fans.
Let me begin by saying that I am not really a Harry Potter fan, but I cannot remember the last time I laughed as hard as I did at your show the other day.
Dan Clarkson - And now you're a huge Harry Potter fan, right?
Well I don't know if I'd go that far! So, are your backgrounds more in theater or more in comedy?
Jeff Turner - Certainly in my case it would be acting. I kind of came at comedy from the theater angle but comedic acting is by far my favorite thing to do. And to be honest, that's all I've done for about the last seven or eight years.
DC - And I went to drama school and trained as an actor and then I started doing comedy and a bit of work in the Comedy Clubs just as a way to make money. And then I really enjoyed it more and more and like Jeff, sort of found a love in the comedy theater, comedy acting. I'd say half and half, mixed. I just like the chance to mess around, wherever it comes from.
How did the two of you meet and when did you decide to collaborate?
JT - Back in 2005, I was chancing my arm in Covent Garden in London, trying to earn a bit of money. I was sort of a struggling actor and I was doing a bit of one-man story telling with props and silly things like that. Dan watched me struggling in front of three Japanese tourists who didn't understand what I was doing and claims he liked what I was doing and he offered to take me for coffee. So we had coffee and we chatted and it seemed we had the same influences and liked the same comedy and it went from there.
DC - And on that day I'd been chatting with the PR company where 'Potted Potter' came about because it was going to be the launch of the sixth book. I was looking to find someone to play Harry Potter and saw Jeff and, well I guess I was really more his savior I like to think, looking back on it, almost floated down the road and helped him and took him to a better way of life.
JT - And you're so modest.
DC - Yes.
Who were some of your comedic influences?
DC - Well Monty Python is an obvious one. I think they crossed the pond over here. But also there's a lot of American influences. I love the guys who do 'Spinal Tap', sort of improvised comedy. And there's a few British sort of duos and comedians that we grew up with. And I love old school comedy and I love the Vaudeville stuff, that kind of very slap stick, double act Vaudeville comedy which we grew up on from watching with our dads. My dad was an actor so when I was young he used to take me to rehearsals to the latest show he was doing as opposed to other dads who took their sons to sporting matches and football games. So I used to watch and know these routines back when I was five or six and I just thought that was what every dad did. That they got dressed up in silly costumes and hit people with pies. It made complete sense to me.
JT - With me, it's pretty much the same influences as Dan. I would throw in, well I was a huge Steve Martin fan and Robin Williams as well. And then some more modern things as well, things like The Simpsons, that kind of comedy that both children and adults alike seem to enjoy. It's like I"m regressing when I watch it but I enjoy the clever jokes as well.
DC - I remember my friend at school, he used to bring in videos of 'Saturday Night Live' because we didn't get that in London and we thought that was amazing. I think this was around the time with Mike Myers and Jim Carrey, and we'd all sit around his VHS player and watch this very sort of crackly version of 'Saturday Night Live.' That sort of made us fall in love with all that stuff. Even now, we watch Will Ferrell with awe. I was going to say we "lovingly borrow" things off of him.