“We take a script about a shark then pump it full of jokes, mess it around bunch and perform it in front of a live audience.”
That’s how the team behind Dreamgun: Film Reads introduce their Jaws podcast. It’s the same formula – minus the sharp-toothed foe – that they apply to other popular film scripts and has proven so popular that the live show sold out at the Edinburgh and Dublin Fringes in 2018 and 2019.
The reimagined scripts for each live performance are written by the old school friends who created Dreamgun: Film Reads (Stephen Colfer, Gavin Drea and James McDonnell) and then read, unrehearsed, by a cast including guest comedians and other performers.
Colfer, who will be flying over from Ireland for Dreamgun’s Adelaide Fringe debut next month, tells InDaily that some of the best moments have come from the show’s performers “failing to do the impossible”:
How did three old school friends come up with the concept of a podcast based on re-written movie scripts from classic ’80s and ’90s films?
Totally by accident! We had a fundraiser show we used to do where we asked actors to read movie scripts. We announced a reading of Back to the Future before we realised there isn’t an easily available copy of the original script anywhere. So we wrote our own and put jokes in while we were at it and suddenly the show had a concept.
The uninitiated might be a little sceptical about the entertainment value of a movie reading without pictures – what’s the secret to making it funny?
The show is completely unrehearsed – everyone is reading their lines off the page and doing their best with what they have. While some of it goes right, lots of it goes wrong and some of the show’s best moments have come from its performers failing to do the impossible and convey a multi-billion-dollar story with only their wits.
From Toy Story to Jaws, Shawshank Redemption, Silence of the Lambs … you could hardly pick a more eclectic collection of movies. How do you select them?
The show depends on the audience having seen the film first, so we try and make sure to pick films that are culturally embedded in everyone’s head already. We start by watching a film we think might work and usually we’ll know if it suits within the first few minutes.
Our best example of a film that failed this test is Face/Off. Within two minutes it starts poking fun at itself, and if the film already knows it’s ridiculous there’s no room for us!
Which of the films you’ve performed so far has garnered the biggest laughs from your live audiences?
Our Film Read of Toy Story really goes all in on the toys being alive and becomes a dark exploration on consciousness, which got a lot of shocked laughter, but I think the biggest and purest laughs came when we gave Jaws the Shark his own lines throughout Jaws.
Who will you have performing the readings at Adelaide Fringe?
Our regular cast members (Ronan Carey, Stephen Colfer and Hannah Mamalis) will be flying over from Ireland, and each night they’ll be joined by different guest performers from the festival who’ll be as new to the show as the audience.
There’s no rehearsal, everyone gets enough time to highlight their lines but not enough time to read them until they’re on stage.
Will I still enjoy the live show even if I’m not a fan of the film being read… or would I be better off having an old friend for dinner with a nice chianti?
We like to pick films that we like, so the show comes from a place of love rather it just being us poking holes in other people’s hard work… but that said, all films are dumb in places. If you don’t think Hannibal Lecter’s biggest contribution to Clarise’s investigation is that he just happened to have met Buffalo Bill before, then prepare to have your point validated.
Dreamgun: Film Reads will be presented in the Garden of Unearthly Delights from March 2-15, and at The Pocket at Stirling Fringe on February 29 and March 1. Each night will feature a different film, with the schedule available here.
See more 2020 Adelaide Fringe previews here.