The Umbilical Brothers are in the Netherlands with their show Heaven By Storm. The Australian duo creates a fantasy world on stage by a unique combination of mime, vocal sound effects, sharp dialogue and physical comedy. (Note: this interview took place in October 2011)
It’s the third time the gentlemen visit our country for a theatre tour. The last time was two years ago with their show Don’t Explain. An explanation indeed won’t do. You have to experience a show by the Umbilical Brothers yourself to get it!
Shane Dundas and David Collins have been working together for over twenty years. They met at the University of Western Sydney, but the first meeting was a painful ordeal. For Shane that is. David happened to accidentally break his nose during a jazz lesson. This little incident marked the beginning of a successful collaboration.
The key to their success is a form of universal humor. The Aussies manage to get both Germans, Americans as Japanese audiences roaring with laughter. Although not all at the same time. “Dutch people, for instance, prefer conceptual humor,” Shane explains. “While the Japanese are more into physical comedy, the slapstick jokes.”
To find out if their jokes are being appreciated, The Umbilical Brothers use the famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival as a sounding board. “It is a very honest audience, you see,” David laughs. “If they like you, they’ll show it. But if they think you’re terrible, you’ll leave the stage with emotional and in some cases even physical scars!”
The twosome luckily managed to avoid any necking parties by unhappy spectators and travel around the world to perform. But how does the creative process work? “Usually we come up with a few ideas, write them down and try them out in front of a live audience,” David answers. “We don’t write an entire script beforehand and literally do what we wrote in there,” Shane confirms. “It’s a process that evolves by creating ideas together.”
The men get their inspiration for ideas from everyday life. “From interviews for example,” David jokes.
“Like most stand-up comedians we’re practically alert all the time for things we find funny and entertaining,” Shane says. “We analyze a situation and then think of ways people would not respond. That is often what comedy is all about: the unexpected.”
Their way of approaching comedy proves to be successful and the men sure aren’t going to retire any time soon. Performing around the world and keeping themselves busy in a creative way are their passions and they’re exceptionally good at it. After this Dutch theatre tour, they will return to their native Australia. But not for long, because in January they’re already expected back in Europe, in Denmark to be precise, with Heaven By Storm.
For more information, please check out their official website: http://www.umbilicalbrothers.com/.