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Kiell Smith-Bynoe Talks Dave’s New Comedy ‘Live at the Moth Club’ (The FH Interview)

8 min read
Moth Club (2022)

Bringing the magic of venues to our screens, UKTV's new mockumentary comedy series Live at the Moth Club premiered on with performances from comedy collective Jamie Demetriou, Natasia Demetriou, Cardinal Burns and and many more.

Filmed in the iconic Moth Club in Hackney, this experimental comedy shows live performances and carefully crafted sketches that integrate a narrative into their programming. Following the bar staff and owners through their antics in a five-episode run, Live at the Moth Club is a celebration of comedic talent, and Filmhounds had the pleasure of sitting down with comedy actor Kiell Smith-Bynoe to discuss all things comedy.

 

Live at the Moth Club involves a lot of different elements of comedy. You've got , sketch and then scripted. So, how would you describe Live at the Moth Club?

 

I guess as a stand-up/sitcom hybrid which is set in a live comedy venue where we get to see the live comedy but also what goes on behind the scenes to make the live comedy happen, which I don't think I've seen before. I think it, of course, is a very ambitious project but it does it very well. And it doesn't seem like it should work on paper, but I think it definitely does. And it blurs those two worlds of what's real and what's not. I think there are actually times where you could get it wrong and not know what the real thing is, what's scripted and what's actually happened on the night.

 

Like you said it's a really interesting dynamic, and then to kind of integrate the stand-up comedy with the narrative of the characters as well. So how much fun was it for you to do where you're aware of the camera and that there's a documentary team filming, as opposed to scripted work you've done before like Stath Lets Flats and Ghosts?

 

It was great. And also, there was quite a bit of freedom around the script as well like The Pin (comedy double-act, Alexander Owen and Ben Ashenden) did a great job writing the whole thing and making this idea come to life. But they also gave us an opportunity to throw things in and try other bits out and I remember, because I play the bar manager, and there were a few times where I got to just request some props. And you're in a location rather than in a studio or something like that and I could just be like ‘can I use this?' and they're like ‘yeah, yeah, sure'. So, there was a lot of opportunity to use all those things that were around us rather than props – we were actually using the real things.

 

The bit where Denzel was trying to introduce table service really made me laugh, I thought it was gold that he had to keep recognising people by what they were wearing!

 

Yeah, exactly. And that was really fun because there was a group of SA's (supporting artists) who had been told to just stand at the bar and look annoyed, and I actually got some dialogue in with them and got to have back-and-forth and got them a bit more involved in it as well – which was fun.

 

I mentioned Stath Lets Flats before, so obviously a lot of you guys have worked together before but what was it like working together again and do the dynamics change when it's a different type of project?

 

You know what, to be honest, I didn't really see any of them apart from Jamie. Me and Jamie had like one scene where he buys like a signed-… something signed, I can't remember what it is but he buys something off me, and we had like one tiny scene but I didn't really see them. But I was shooting. I think I was still doing Dreamland at the time, so I was in and out on different days and then I've since seen Tash and Ellie and what they were doing because I knew they were in it, but I didn't know what they were doing. Although there's the insane sketch within the show where we played chefs. And that was a crazy day but yeah, I got to hang out with Ellie a little bit. But yeah, I guess that was the most time I got to spend with them, but a lot of my stuff was with Mark Heap who I've worked with before.

 

Who's just fantastic!

 

Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I did Friday Night Dinner a few years back and met him then. And then I did a Sky short earlier this year that he's in as well so yeah, it was nice to work with him again. And Lucia Keskin, who I hadn't met before, but I've been aware of her stuff online and who's fantastic and it was great to work with her as well.

 

Moth Club (2022)
UKTV/Dave

 

I mean, everyone in this does really stand out and obviously Katy Wix as well, who you've worked with on Ghosts before.

 

Yeah exactly! But I didn't see her at all during the filming of that because we were in on different days but then I did a Halloween show for my live show, String v Spitta, and Katy was one of the guests on that, so I got to see her there. And without a doubt, Katy's one of the best.

 

Her set was just fantastic. This show involves a lot of established comics but also a lot of up-and-comers as well, so why is the Moth Club so important to anyone and everyone who's following a path in comedy?

 

Well, I wasn't really aware of the Moth Club until a few years ago and I think it was since joining that group of comedy actors that did Stath [Lets Flats] that's how I knew about it and it's just such a great vibe and a venue of never knowing what to expect. It's sort of like, will you get someone who's coming up and doing an open mic or will you get Lady Gaga? It's like you have no idea what to expect there. But it's always a lot of fun and I really think they captured the essence of that venue in the show. Which was obviously done just by announcing there were live gigs there and the people who usually go there did turn up. It just so happened that they were also filming a sitcom on that day.

 

I really liked the aspect of the audience actually being (active) audience members. I thought that was really great, because it must have made it a lot easier for all of the stand-ups that were performing!

 

Yeah, I think it did make it easier for the stand-ups. It didn't make it easier for the actors who had to do some sketches in between and everyone was like ‘what?' and then the host had to keep saying, ‘oh it'll make sense in the edit'. There were a few times where you'd have to interact with the audience from an episode that was like three episodes ago and you're just doing a punchline and the audience never found out the setup. But hopefully, it means all the people that were there will be watching the series to find out what that punchline meant.

 

Why was it important for you to be involved in this show personally?

 

I just thought it was a really fun project. I've worked with Rupert before on Red Flag. He produced Red Flag, and The Pin, I think are two of the best comedy sketch performers and writers that we have at the moment. I did a little sketch with them in lockdown, but I think they're so great. Even the development of the character and what kind of character you would like to play. We created Denzel's story together which isn't a thing that I'm used to doing. You sort of get a character and you go ‘okay, how are you going to play this?' whereas we went through it together and worked out what we thought would be funny. Then adding the idea of his cousin doing the haircuts – all of that came through the process of development rather than something that was already there. So, it was a really fun way to work with great people and I think it really did it justice.

 

I had so much fun watching this. I can't imagine how much fun it must have been for you all. Do you have any favourite moments from the show that stick out in your head?

 

You know what? There were times when I'd be watching the show and sort of forgot I was meant to be there as well. For Jon Pointing's set, I remember we were meant to film another bit from another episode straight afterwards and I was just chatting to some of the people in the bar about how good Jon was, forgetting I'm in the show! And Sam Campbell as well, I remember watching that and laughing way too loud. I think one of the hardest tasks was to not laugh at Jamie's set. I think he actually had to redo it because people were laughing too much. He had to stop in the middle and say it's really nice everyone finds it so funny, but the idea is that you don't. So yeah, that. There was something that felt a bit naughty schoolboy about it where you're not allowed to laugh makes it the funniest.

 

It makes you want to laugh more, doesn't it?!

 

Yeah, it was brilliant. All of that. And ‘Cia Keskin's dog. She was a very active member on set. Yeah, I actually filmed all of my stuff in three days.

 

Oh, three days?!

 

Yeah. So, it was a very hectic schedule when I was in. But it was loads of fun and we were really getting through it, and we were really laughing but it was also like ‘right, we've need to get this done.'.

 

Was it just a period of three days or did the shoot last a lot longer?

 

Oh, the shoot was on for ages! But because I was doing something else, I could only do three days, so it was mental, but it was a lot of fun. I guess that's what the show is – a lot of fun.

 

Live At the Moth Club is now available to watch on Dave and UKTV Play.