Preview: Crash Pad, Arts Theatre, London

A live sitcom that stands up for something
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The Independent Culture

What exactly is stand-up sitcom? Graeme Holmes, who is devising and directing the new comedy show Crash Pad, says: "It is slightly experimental. There is a fictional scenario set in a flat that is mixed together with stand-up, which also relates to the burning topic that becomes the storyline of each show. It is fun to play with a new genre and it gives the comedians a new challenge to use their own stand-up in the sitcom."

The show's fortnightly issues include booze and excessive drinking, ego and celebrity, the environment, families and administration, and chores. With its own soundtrack and sound effects, the live show is like any American sitcom. At certain points it breaks off from the storyline and a microphone drops down on stage, when it turns into traditional stand-up.

Holmes, who also runs a comedy night, Comedy Gold, in London's Crouch End, went to see "300 comedians in a month" at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2007, he says, before selecting his cast. The two main flatmates, Tiffany Stevenson and Paul Foot, are joined by rock'*'roll guitarist Christian Reilly, who performs issue-related songs. There is a guest in each show, known as the couch kipper – first in line is the Canadian comedian Glenn Wool – who has stayed the night at the flat.

"It is quite scary because although we have a framework, we are improvising around a set issue," says flatmate Stevenson, whose stand-up style is deadpan. She has never before mixed sitcom and stand-up together, but she played the plastic surgery addict in Footballers Wive$ TV on ITV2 and was directed by Stewart Lee in Talk Radio at the 2006 Edinburgh Fringe.

"The stand-up is pre-written, but other than that we don't really know what's going to happen. In the first show I've been drinking too much and Paul has concerns, which we then debate through the form of stand-up. Christian has a bit more of a rock'n'roll lifestyle, and he dips in and out and takes the middle ground on an issue."

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