With the simple view of having a laugh, one of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2009’s most popular acts was formed. The three guys who make up the comedy sketch group “Pappy’s” have come a long way since their university days, but still remain relatively unknown.

The group has been touring extensively for years, so the fact that they are not recognised demonstrates the highly competitive industry that they are working in. After speaking with member Matthew Crosby, their survival can be put down to two factors: sheer determination and a passion for comedy.

The aim and challenge with Pappy’s is to try and make their private jokes accessible to large audiences. Each tour is themed with different tasks they must complete set by their unseen benefactor, Pappy, which Crosby says makes them “A bit like Charlie’s Angels, except not as sexy.”

Crosby, who is one third of the group along with Tom Parry and Ben Clark, said that their growing success was never planned but “Is a dream come true”.

“Comedy was always something I loved but it was like wanting to be a rock star – you never have it as your plan A. I watched a lot of comedy on television but could never work out how you go from being silly with your friends to doing it on stage.”

But Pappy’s clearly worked out how to be professionals as they have gone from playing the odd show on the London comedy circuit, to performing to more than 7000 fans at Edinburgh’s Pleasance venue.

“We started off doing shows that were us messing around for friends and family and at this time I was doing stand up comedy alone,” Crosby said “So if someone wanted to book me for a gig I would suggest booking Pappy’s.

“That went well so we put together our first Edinburgh show and now we play all over the world.”

That is no exaggeration. Recently they have played gigs like the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, the San Francisco Sketch Festival and the Dublin Comedy Festival. “It’s great being able to say, ‘I’m going to work now…by plane!’ It’s like being famous, except no-one knows who you are.”

Being influenced by classic British comedy like “Monty Python”, Pappy’s humour isn’t always appreciated overseas: “The Australians found us confusing. It took them around 30 minutes to get into it. At first they were just thinking ‘what is this?’ but eventually they enjoyed themselves.”

Crosby has positivity running through his veins, something that helps when things aren’t going to plan: “With sketches, you can’t bail half way through. When you’ve written a show you have to keep going until you wear the audience down. It’s like high altitude training: you just do it until you’re good enough to keep on doing it.”

They appear to have a love-hate relationship with the broadcasting media, seeing it as a publicity tool rather than somewhere they would like to work more in: “The only reason we do TV or radio is to encourage people come and see us live.
“With a TV show, not only do you have to write the script and send it off to producers, but then they have to send it off to their bosses and so on, and you end up having to wait ages to get anything done.”

For a creative group of people, this restriction is frustrating and is precisely what keeps their heart strings attached to the stage: “Theatre is what we love. In TV or radio, you have to justify everything you do and then the more you talk about and analyse it, the less funny it becomes. I just think: ‘That will be funny so let’s do it.”

Their current show, “Pappy’s World Record Attempt: 200 Sketches in an Hour”, sees them trying to do on average one sketch every 18 seconds. “We do tend to mess around, so occasionally a sketch will last three minutes and we’ll have to make up the time somewhere,” Crosby said.

The appeal of the show is to see how and if they do it: “Audiences like to see performers who aren’t just running off a script, to see people trying to do something different and enjoy themselves. That’s what we do in every show.”