Lancaster local Kriss Foster is a man with a DIY attitude and an endearing stage presence. Whimsical storytelling combines with quirky musical comedy to create something utterly unusual and yet firmly down to earth, with his material covering such oddities as the pencil museum and charity shops. Alongside his comedy partner Mr Ferris, Kriss Foster and Friend have just returned from a successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe, but they’ll gig almost anywhere – in fact, for the right price, they’ll even do a show in your living room! We spoke to Kriss about punk rock ethics, leopard suits and all the escalators in Lancaster…
Firstly, I have to ask. Is there a story behind the onesie?
Ah, the leopard suit…! It’s a bit like when your Gran gives you a jumper, and you want to seem like you really like it and are grateful, so every time you see her you wear it, even in the height of Summer. It’s like that. My Mum’s friend from her coffee morning at church made it for me, so I didn’t want to look like I didn’t like it!
How would you describe the comedy that you do?
I would describe it as moderately diverting and gently amusing. My friend, the poet Tim Clare described me as a “champion of niche pleasures” and I like that description. NME called it bizarrely brilliant and my Gran says I’m a great disappointment!
I have tried to make my comedy accessible and suitable for any audience, so no swearing and maybe telling jokes about things people don’t tell jokes about like stuffed birds, the pencil museum and Tunnocks teacakes.
Oh, I sing songs as well!
How did you get into comedy?
I have always played guitar and enjoyed writing songs. The songs have always been a bit irreverent and in the left field and I have always written songs with a sense of humour. I was invited to be in a show at the Fringe in 2011 with my friend, the poet and comedian Rob Auton (I hadn’t performed in two years) – when I was up there I realised that just singing songs was not working so I tried to write a bit of stand up. It went well so I developed it from there. I ended up enjoying writing and telling the stories – eventually building up to the last two years where I’ve taken up my own show with my friend Mister Ferris.
Who are your comedy influences?
My influences range really, anything from Alan Bennett to The Twilight Zone. I’m a big Frank Sidebottom fan, it’s nice to see him get some posthumous appreciation from a wider audience he always deserved.
I have always enjoyed comedians who invite you into their world for an hour or so, like Rob Auton, who I’ve mentioned, Ivor Cutler or John Shuttleworth. I like comedians who make you change the way you look at things. Rob Auton mentions that a tic tac fits perfectly into a polo’s hole so ever since I’ve never looked at a mint in the same way.
What’s the last thing that made you laugh out loud?
There is a Facebook page about Lancaster, where I am from, where people go on to celebrate things they have enjoyed in our city. Or to air minor grievances like the sudden prevalence of A boards outside shops, also to share historic photos of old events or streets. There was a conversation to see if anyone could name all the escalators in Lancaster. At first I laughed, but then afterwards I felt strangely proud that I could in fact definitively say how many escalators there are in Lancaster (there are six). Now, who in London could tell you how many escalators there are in the capital?
Tell me a bit about the living room shows, how did they come about? Have people taken you up the offer?
Yes, the living room shows- we do them regularly! They were inspired by the house/basement shows in the US, where a lot of the riot folk, hardcore punk scene put on shows in peoples basements, garages, back yards – I always found that really interesting, a kind of DIY ethic, and of course you have to be 21 to drink in the US. So naturally I thought – how come no-one in UK comedy does house shows? Seemed like a natural thought process. I also thought, what a great idea for a dinner party, getting a comedian you like to do the show in your house without having to leave your own living room. The other bonus is you get really well looked after and meet loads of really nice and interesting people. We also do the bespoke songwriting service where I write a song about your chosen subject, loved one or event. We’ve done all sorts from a song about someones dog, lot’s of birthdays, for a B & B and even a funeral!
You can follow Kriss on twitter @.
Catch Kriss at the Comedy Knight with the Legion of Doom this Monday 6th October at 81, Renshaw. Read our preview here.
You can find out more about future show dates, the bespoke song writing service and shows in your living room on his website www.krissfoster.co.uk