Chart-toppers The Hoosiers to make their comedy debut at Edinburgh Fringe

Hoosiers Alan Sharland and Irwin Sparkes are Felix and the Scootermen!
Hoosiers Alan Sharland and Irwin Sparkes are Felix and the Scootermen!
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MORE than a decade after their chart-topping first album The Hoosiers return to Edinburgh this August, but don't expect to hear them rattling through their back catalogue of hits.

Instead, drummer Alan Sharland and front man Irwin Sparkes will be looking for laughs as they embark on their very first comedy outing under the name Felix & The Scootermen in a show, entitled Self-Help Yourself Famous.

Loosely-based on their own ups and downs in the ever-changing music-business, and just as absurd, the pair will share their first-hand knowledge and reflect upon the cost of reaching for the stars.

Sparkes reveals, "Our simple dream is to change people’s lives via the medium of comedy - having already inarguably succeeded via the power of pop, as I’m sure you’ll attest.

"At a Hoosiers 'live-art performance' aka a gig, I oft’ get the impression that people enjoy the mid-set frisson twixt Al and I more than the songs, so stumbling into comedy felt like a natural step for us.

"That, plus I got the mega bumper book of big jokes for Christmas and I felt, reading aloud to the family over stuffed guinea-fowl, that I’d discovered my true calling in life.

"They say laughter is the best medicine, and although chemists might disagree, I like the idea that I can save lives whilst tickling funny bones."

“I agree,” chips in Sharland, earning a quick rebuke from Sparkes, “That’s it? That’s your quote? What a waste.”

"Ok, fine. It’s been so refreshing to flex other creative muscles. The show is moderately biographical, so it’s been quite therapeutic," elaborates Sharland, adding, "Plus, there’s a serious element at play here as we asked some cutting questions of our experience in the music industry and the toll it takes on mental health and the role of the public, then threw our findings into a comedy-musical hot-tub/stew."

"I agree," quips Sparkes.

The pair formed The Hoosiers in 2003 with Sparkes on lead vocals and lead guitar and Sharland on drums, percussion and vocals.

Their first single, Worried About Ray, reached No 5 in the charts in 2007. It was followed the same year by their debut album, The Trick to Life, which reached No 1 in the charts.

The albums The Illusion of Safety, The News From Nowhere and The Secret Service came later.

Anyone who has been to a Hoosiers gig and experienced their between song banter is unlikely to be surprised by the pair's transition to a more theatrical medium - despite Sharland never having actually performed onstage away from a drum-kit since Easthampstead Park school’s 1994 stage version of Pirates of Penzance, which folded after three performances.

The pair are no strangers to the Capital, however, as Sparkes recalls, "We once heralded in the New Year as guest DJs for Hogmanay on Princes Street. I remember, minutes before we started, having to ask a nice man from Hot Chip, how to DJ."

"Clang! goes the name-drop," laughs Sharland, adding, "Edinburgh is like a second home to me - especially given I own a small castle just outside the city."

"Really?" asks an impressed Sparkes. "No," says Sharland, adding, "That sheer nonsense aside, Edinburgh has the best crowds. That’s a known fact in the industry.

It's appears their comedy act is already well-underway. Felix & The Scootermen! Self-Help Yourself Famous will premiere at the Underbelly Bristo Square and include "songs, laughterisms and inappropriate uses of space-hoppers."

Felix & The Scootermen! Self-Help Yourself Famous, Underbelly, Bristo Square, 31 July-26 August (not 10), 4.40pm, £7-£12, 0131-226 0000