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Fools in the Know

Apr 25th 2012 | Aleksia Barron

What do you get if you cross a rugby team and a musical theatre group? Idiots Of Ants apparently, as Benjamin Wilson explains to Aleksia Barron.

When it comes to English sketch-comedy foursome Idiots Of Ants, sometimes the obvious question needs to be asked first – where on earth did they get that name? Benjamin Wilson, who is in the group alongside friends Andrew Spiers, James Wrighton and Elliott Tiney, is happy to oblige with the answer: “We had a meeting about five when we wanted to start this whole comedy thing and we decided that we wanted to be kind of 'unique'. Elliot [Tiney], who's the most precocious member of the group, suggested that we call ourselves Idiot Savants, which is French for 'fool in the know' or 'idiot genius'.” The suggestion did not go over as Tiney might have hoped. “We all said that was the most pretentious, wanky thing we'd ever heard, but we decided to go for something a bit like that, so anyone with a French degree would get it and anyone else, we could just explain it to them in the show.”

Thus, Idiots Of Ants (say it out loud…) was formed. The four guys all had backgrounds in acting, which they wanted to translate to sketch comedy on a stage. However, what Wilson admits they were not prepared for was things going awry mid-show. “Five years ago, when we started at Edinburgh, we were rubbish at improvising,” he laughs. “Whenever something went wrong, we went white and did little poos on the stage. We were terrified.” 

Fortunately, Wilson and his co-conspirators have come a long way since those early days of stage detritus. “Now, we can react to it so much better. Some of our favourite points in the show are when stuff goes wrong, because we can kind of take the mick out of each other, or take the mick out of the audience. It's a really fun dynamic – we can come in and out of the sketches. Some of them need to be tight and on the script, but the vast majority, we can pop out of the sketch, have a chat to the audience and then pop back in.”

With their current self-titled show, Idiots Of Ants are enjoying giving audiences the chance to see some of their favourite material created over the years – old, new and everything in between. Plus, they're having a great time on the road, as always. “We're kind of a cross between a rugby team and a musical theatre group – we know each other incredibly well. We're a group of friends, first and foremost.”

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