Fringe gig is a cut above
CULT telly hit Dara O Briain’s Go 8 Bit owes its success to the Edinburgh Fringe and BEER. The gaming fun fest starts its second series run on Dave tomorrow night, but Steve McNeil, one of the comics behind the show, has revealed it all really came about by chance. McNeil — who shares the telly stage with Dara, Sam Pamphilon and Ellie Gibson — admitted they had been forced to improvise at the Fringe because they had forgotten to write a new show. He laughed:
“It’s insane. Back in 2013, me and Sam were meant to be going back up to the festival with our fourth sketch show but we hadn’t written anything. Go 8 Bit was originally just going to be a stupid thing we did at the weekends while we were up there as a bit of light relief for us and our comedian friends because it can be a looooooong month. The plan was just ‘Plug in a Nintendo Wii. Get comedians drunk. Let audience in’.”
But it was an instant hit and has an army of fans up and down the country. McNeil added:
“I’d always loved Games Master as a kid, and there’s always been these sorts of one-off ‘late-night’ shows in Edinburgh. It’s the only time of the year that all the comedians are together in the same place, and your options in Edinburgh are essentially get drunk, watch a show, or be in a show. We combined options one and three.”
The show back with its familiar mix of celebrity gamers. Pointless geek Richard Osman, Sara Cox, Vernon Kay and Edith Bowman set to star in the new series and McNeil insists the banter is a vital part of the appeal. He said:
“All the guests have been great — our guest booker, Paul Byrne, has done a great job in balancing skill and booking people who get the tone of our show. It’s not a traditional panel show where you have to shout over everyone to do your jokes. We just want everyone to have a nice chat and have fun playing games. Gaming skill-wise, Ore Oduba gave us all a masterclass in defensive play on X Men vs Street Fighter. He made me earn every single punch. I don’t think that one will be shown until the autumn though! My dream guests would, have to be Dominik Diamond and Dave Perry, to bring the whole thing full circle. And Limmy, because Sam and I used to do sketch comedy and he made the best sketch show EVER.”
While the guests get to show their stuff, there is also plenty of competition between the hosts to see who is king of a particular title. McNeil insisted:
“Best gamer? It’s a toss-up between me and Ellie, I guess. Sam’s never been a big gamer, although the more we do the show, the better he gets. In one show we have just done, Ellie got so angry with Sam that she actually snatched the controller off him to complete a section of a challenge. He ended up winning the round but, to be honest, at that point it’d taken so long I was just relieved it was over. If people want to see Dara play, they should check out the spin-off show, where he will regularly humiliate himself.
“The worst loser is definitely me. Sam and I keep track of the ‘real’ score for Go 8 Bit, which includes all 50 live shows we did before the move to TV. We’ve never fallen out — we enjoy the rivalry but the point of the show is that it’s not about a high level of professional competitive play. We’re trying to recreate the fun of having a few friends round to play games on the sofa.”
Games fans will see them tackle some fun titles as well. McNeil said:
“We’ve finally managed to secure a couple of Mario games. We’ve got Minecraft too, which is my favourite game ever. The only big one left for me is Grand Theft Auto. Rockstar, please let us play your game!”
Dara O Briain’s Go 8 Bit and Go 8 Bit DLC start Monday, May 15, (Dave, 10pm).
Double Dose is a bit special
GO 8 BIT fans will see double when the new series starts — a DLC extra is on straight after the main event. McNeil laughed:
“It’s really fun — we’ve tried to make it feel like we all finished the main show then went down the pub for a chat.”
“There’s more space for discussion of games, and there’s several weeks where our guest is a games journalist rather than a comedian but, as with everything we do with Go 8 Bit, we’ve tried to make sure it’s still funny and accessible for non-gamers. In the first half we chat about what we’ve all been playing, and in the second half the guest suggests a title that should go into our hallowed ‘Hall Of Game’. I then suggest a worthy opponent and we argue until Ellie’s sick of it. Then there’s a bunch of stupid stuff like Dara taking us on at games — because he’s always moaning about not playing them in the main show. Sam does a gaming-based Top 5 and there’s my favourite bit: ‘What Does Ellie’s Dad Think?’”
This interview originally appeared in the Scottish Sun on Sunday 14th May 2017.