Rare People Ed. 2: Lorelei Mathias

Introducing Rare People; a series where we will hear all about what the people of Publicis do when they’re not busy making ads.

Big shoutout to Wes for photos.

Lorelei Mathias, Senior Creative and talented Writer/Performer, is this week’s feature in the 2nd edition of Rare People around 82 Baker Street.  

How did you first get interested in comedy?
In 1985, my brother had trouble saying my name so he called me Lol. I was five and about as funny as a cabbage, but the name stuck. Years later the internet happened and with it, chat-speak. Soon I was at pains to qualify every introduction with ‘it’s not because I think I’m funny’ as I was so shy!

It wasn’t until I was 25 and read the first reviews for my book that it occurred to me I actually might be a bit funny. Reading that I was capable of making a stranger ‘laugh-out-loud on the tube’ was a career highlight!

Nat and I have always been huge fans of sketches – Armando Iannucci, Smack the Pony & Cardinal Burns in particular. In our 15 years writing ads, we’d often write sketches in our down time, and went on writing courses to learn the ‘craft’. But we’d never performed in any, until we won a place at Cannes Young Lions Film Competition, and had to make a film about ourselves – which somehow ended up as a sketch about these two idiots. We then got asked to be on a Channel 4 pilot called The Mad Bad Ad Show and nearly took it on, along with a shiny agent – but neither of us were ready for it so we passed and got on with our lives! Years later, on ‘Nat Leave’ I moved to Melbourne to write a comedy drama script based on my book (a rom com called Break Up Club). I got immersed in the comedy scene there, ended up reviewing for the Chortle comedy website, and started writing sketches with a few other comedians. We wrote and produced our first sketch, ‘Ghoster Busters’. Soon a little comedy collective from Melbourne & London was born…

Melon Comedy: A global comedy collective that uses silly surreal comedy to kick the ass of modern dating, pollution, mental illness and other melancholy challenges of modern life…

Our ½ hour pilot, ‘Melon Comedy & the Infinite Gladness’ is almost ready thanks to lovely Ben at Prodigious and his mad editing skills. We have had chats with some broadcasters and production companies and noises are encouraging! But it’s still early days. Some of mine and Nat’s original sketches are next in line to shoot. In the meantime we have just put up a page on this new comedy crowd-funding site, which we put as much effort into sharing as we do the rest of our online presence ie. none! HELP.

Funniest joke you’ve ever told?
‘That’s going to take AGES to transfer across!’.

I don’t know how funny it is but it’s from a sketch that makes us (and Kev from IT laugh). The set up: God is on her Macbook, creating the universe… in Photoshop. She’s just realised she’s in the wrong version of the document again – ‘Yesterday’s was saved as ‘Definitely New FINAL FINAL EARTH – this is just New FINAL FINAL EARTH!’. She has a melt-down. ‘I’ve spent SIX WHOLE DAYS on this!’ Then a bloke from I.T. comes over to help. 

(It’s a normal day for me at Pub London; Kev is on my speed-dial).

So they’re going through all the changes manually that they’ve got to copy across from yesterday’s document. ‘Earthquakes, the rainfall in Hull…. and Depression.’To which the I.T. bloke sighs like he’s gonna be pulling a late one/Deliverance at the ready. ‘That’s going to take AGES to transfer across!’ 

(It’s better on film…)

I guess on one level it’s a bit of observational comedy about the perils of file-name discipline (the struggle is real), but really it’s a joke about the mental health crisis.

Another one I like is:

‘Pretty soon there’s going to be more plastic than fish!’. It’s a line from ‘The Litter Mermaid’. The idea that we were given this beautiful planet and fucked it up to that extent is funny in the blackest of ways. I can’t take credit for it though; the human race wrote that one. 

What is one rule for life that comedy has taught you?
Something shit just happened? Find the joke. It’s hiding in there somewhere. The only way out is through laughing. 

Tell us a bit about your latest project.
Shot on a fin-string, The Litter Mermaid is a tragi-comedy about the plastic crisis in our seas, from the point of view of the mermaid community and King Neptune. Trailer here.

And the full film is here on youtube though we’ve not officially launched it yet hence the low views!

It stars performers from the Melbourne Comedy scene and Monty the Manta Ray from Indonesia, thanks to the Guardian’s Rich Horner /The Rubbish Diver, who donated his incredible trash footage.

It’s the first thing I’ve ever directed, and producing it was a real ‘labour of love’. 

So I was blown away when the day after we wrapped, I was out walking on the beach with my nephew, when we stumbled across this message, carved into the rocks, just a few shores down from Elwood/Point Ormond where we’d filmed.

I shit you not. Truly, the seas are trying to tell us something.

Why should we try and be less serious?
We are the only species on the planet with the ability to laugh. 

We are also the only species on the planet that has to deal with automated phone lines. 

I think god ‘designed’ our sense of humour for a reason – to get us through the absurd bits and the shitty bits. That checks out if you watch comedian Lost Voice Guy, who we had perform at our first Lemon Comedy London show, and I was moved to tears by his acerbic yet life affirming show. As he says, ‘If I couldn’t laugh about my situation, I would definitely cry’. 

In the summer, I had some stuff delivered for a barbeque. The Sainsburys algorithm had replaced my self-lighting charcoal briquettes with a ‘close equivalent’ in no way fit for purpose. There goes my bday party, I could have thought, or got annoyed, but instead I remembered a sketch I’d seen recently by the London Comedy Writers group, where the ‘close equivalents’ of some Swiss Rolls are in fact a twelve pack of Bog Roll. 

So instead of getting annoyed that I couldn’t light the Bbq, I ‘Lolled’, and tweeted a picture of the delivery guy, before sending him on his way with his gargantuan cammping torch. But then the Hackney council banned all fires and Barbecues on account of the heat wave. Then it pissed with rain. And then I had a power cut… and needed a torch. The world’s getting absurder by the day and if we don’t laugh, we’ll go insane. 

That’s why my next project is all about neuro-diversity. I’m a person living with ADHD:a disorder affecting the pre-frontal cortex of 1 in 4 adults, making them bad at ‘adulting’ but good at having 15000 ideas a second and more connections and visions that you’d know what to do with in a lifetime. Even though lots of esteemed slebs have it (from Rory Bremner to Einstein to um, Ant McPartlin), few neurotypical people fully get it. So that’s what I’m working on next, with another couple of performers and this girl down under who had a hand in me getting diagnosed. Because that’s the beautiful thing: no matter how much of a ‘crazy one’ you feel sometimes – neuro-diverse, disabled, anorexic, ginger, ‘other’, comedy shows you you’re not alone. 

And lastly, What can comedy teach us about people?
Everything. People worry about touching certain areas in comedy. But one thing I learned when curating shows for Lemon Comedy (Melon’s live, sister brand) was – you can make a joke about any subject, so long as the joke isn’t on the victim. If it’s directed towards the injustice at the heart of a problem, then fair game. Bridget Christie has a bit about ‘a rape fantasy’ which is a wonderful misdirection… it turns out to be a joke that hates the judicial system, rather than a joke that hates women, which most rape gags are.

You might think you can’t make comedy about suicide. We thought so too, until we lost a friend to it, and my other co-writer Em and I were inspired to write this sketch about a helium balloon and automated phone lines. 

We are honoured that the World Mental Health Day Federation want to run it for their next campaign– Link here

If I haven’t already used up my ‘this is all a bit worthy’ credits, I’ll leave you with this mantra from a writer who puts it much better than me:

‘Most comics feed prejudice and fear and blinkered vision, but the best ones, the comedians… illuminate them, make them clearer to see, easier to deal with. We’ve got to make people laugh…’til they cry….Comedy is medicine. Not coloured sweeties to rot the teeth with.’ 
Trevor Griffiths, The Comedians.

And, that’s my time. Thanks, you’ve been a lovely audience. And thanks to everyone in Pub Ldn & Prodigious for their help with The Litter Mermaid: Ryan, Wes, Paul H, Duncan, and Garry, Ben, George to name a few! 

Side note: if anyone got this far and it up for helping out in our next films as social media help or as a producer then please get in touch. Fame (and admin) awaits!

‘Til then please like us on the FB and subscribe to the Youtube, follow Lol on https://twitter.com/LoreleiMathiasbuy her books at loreleimathias.com and and and blah etc blah Insta @Lollygagger_London link in bio thank you bye x

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