Meet Frisky and Mannish. Or, to give them their full names, Felicity Fitz-Frisky and Hansel Amadeus Mannish. Or, to give them their real names, Laura Corcoran and Matthew Jones. Together they form a comedy cabaret duo so deliriously entertaining, one hard-bitten critic was moved to declare: "If you don't enjoy this, you have no soul." The show which drew this breathless praise, alongside a cluster of five-star reviews at this year's Edinburgh Fringe, was School of Pop, a glorious hour which saw the pair sing and play their way through "twisted" musical parodies, retooling the Pussycat Dolls as end-of-the-pier entertainers and reading "Eternal Flame" as a stalker's rule-book. "We're trying to surprise people into laughing," explains Jones.
The pair, both 24, met at Oxford University where they dabbled in musicals and the Oxford Revue. Corcoran, who is the great-granddaughter of Alice Bell, one of the original Tiller Girls, and the daughter of the musical-theatre actor Christopher Corcorcan, "grew up in dressing rooms" and studied musical theatre at the Royal Academy of Music. Jones is a trained dancer and pianist. Frisky and Mannish were born, "a happy accident", in 2008 when a friend asked them to fill a 10-minute spot at a music-hall night. They found their stage names in Byron's Don Juan, threw on some Victoriana costumes and presented an operatic "Papa Don't Preach" and "Eye of the Tiger", bluegrass-style, to a bemused, then rapturous crowd. Dates in Berlin and at New York's Slipper Room followed.
School of Pop has a run at London's Soho Theatre in the new year, the pair will perform at Sydney Opera House for Mardi Gras and they'll tour the UK in May. "We're just crowd-pleasers," says Corcoran. "We love cabaret and light entertainment – and we're not ashamed of that," says Jones.Reuse content