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MonkAI Interview: Shelf

Generative AI is everywhere these days. It's powering self-driving cars, detecting fraudsters, and even helping surgeons save lives. Here at Monkey Barrel, we're putting those machine learning models to another, worthy use: interviewing some of the brilliant comedians visiting our comedy club in Edinburgh. This week, we asked our robo-pal, MonkAI, to generate some questions for the fantastic comedy double-act Shelf (@ShelfComedy) who are bringing two fantastic shows to MBC in March.


MonkAI: What inspired the name "Shelf" for your comedy group, and does it hold any significance or meaning to your work?


Shelf: We spent all day trying to come up with a name, and eventually just named objects in Ruby’s room until we landed on a word that we liked saying. To think, in another timeline we could be named after something else from Ruby’s room, like “bed”, or “desk”, or “haunted doll”.


MAI: How do you strike a balance between keeping your material family-friendly for the kids' show while still engaging and entertaining for the adults accompanying them?


S: The material we do for kids is actually material we used to perform for adults back when we were a more alternative sketch act! We don’t really believe in talking down to kids, we come up with jokes that we think are funny and then just amp up the physical comedy around them


MAI: What themes or topics do you find yourselves returning to most frequently in your sketches or performances?


S: For kids? Pranking each other, emotions, silliness.


For adults? Gender, sexuality, music, silliness.


MAI: What inspired you to delve into children's comedy in addition to your more adult-oriented material?


S: A friend of ours (Isabelle, producer of Comedy Club 4 Kids) said we should give it a go. Ruby thought this was a bad idea because we’re such an edgy, alternative double act, and assumed that we’d be hounded by the right wing press. We did one gig for kids without changing any of the material and the kids loved it so much that we agreed a) to stop performing it for adults and b) that we are not edgy.


MAI: How do you think your experiences as shelf installers influence your comedic approach or perspective on life?


S: Much like a sturdy shelf we have learned to hold each other up, in a comedic and emotional sense.


MAI: Outside of comedy, what are some of your other interests or hobbies that you enjoy pursuing in your free time?


S: We’re both really into the gym, which helps keep us capable of holding each other up.


MAI: What do you envision for the future of Shelf as a group, both creatively and professionally, in the long term?


S: Like all alternative comedians we envision great riches.


Genuinely, we see ourselves doing more writing and have some really exciting stuff coming up that we can’t wait to talk about.


MAI: What do you hope audiences take away from experiencing a Shelf performance?


S: We hope they have a good time! In fact, we also hope that we have a good time. It’s a group experience, isn’t it? Successful dinner parties aren’t all about the host. We hope audiences bring things as well as taking them away, like energy, good vibes, and small but delightful gifts for us.


MAI: How do you manage to balance your comedy performances with your demanding job of installing shelves?


S: The trick is to just put shelves up whenever you can. We have put shelves up in every venue that we’ve performed in over the last several years. The venues didn’t want them, but this is our passion and sometimes you have to dance to the beat of your own drum even when people say “this is property damage” and “you have to pay for that”.


MAI: Can you tell us a bit about Teenage Men and what audiences can expect from your show in Edinburgh this weekend?


S: Teenage Men is a show about, in no particular order, being a Bad Boy, performing comedy for kids, having rage in your heart, Alanis Morissette, queer experiences across generations and families, the wildest (and genuinely true) coincidence you have ever heard. We’ve been having a really great time performing this one, so we think you can expect a fun night out with your new best friends (Shelf).


MAI: Thanks, Shelf, thanks a million!


See Shelf in Edinburgh


If you're interested in seeing a hilarious blend of storytelling, songs, and silliness (and who wouldn't be?) you're in luck! Shelf are bringing TWO shows to Monkey Barrel on Saturday March 16th: The Kids' Show (3PM) and Teenage Men (8PM). Get your tickets now: The Kids' Show & Teenage Men


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