KG & Marston Comedy

KG & Marston Comedy KG & Marston Comedy

Call them Britain’s answer to Dave Chapelle. Call them the court-jesters of the UK pop/grime crossover (newly signed to Dizzee Rascal’s Dirtee Stank management empire, and with Tinie Tempah joining the stampede to praise them up online). Just don’t play KG & Marston’s incendiary half-a-million-hits-and-rising Youtube video “Guns & Pork” to any tabloid news editors who don’t have a sense of humour, or we could have a real scare story on our hands. With total Youtube hits well into seven figures, and having long ago left their mark on Tim Westwood’s 1Xtra Show (so deeply that the resulting footage mysteriously never made it onto the internet), South London’s most trigger-happy urban warriors Shadrack and The Mandem are already deliver on their promise of “bare negativity”. At a time when so many of the UK MC’s surfing to mainstream chart success in Dizzee Rascal’s wake are working so hard to put a positive message out there, it’s refreshing to come across two new voices with the courage to admit “We need the negativity, there just ain’t enough around right now”. The first thing to say about meeting Kevin “KG” Garry and Nicholas “Marston” Marston is that they’re a lot less tense than internet alter-egos Shadrack and Abendigo. But that doesn’t that stop things getting heated before the introductions are even done with. “Hello, my name is Nicholas. I’ve probably got a lighter-sounding voice than Kev. He’s the gangsta-looking one... I’m still a man, though”. “Yeah, but there’s a lot of bass on this side of the room...” “I’m STILL A MAN THOUGH!”. “A lot of people do think we actually are Shadrack and Abendigo”, KG admits, after his partner in rhyme has calmed down a bit. “And that’s probably a good thing, ‘cos it means no-one wants to mess with us”. “Shadrack is just that guy in the hood who you don’t wanna see” explains writer/director Marston. “Basically, he’s a gangsta, but on skates”. Marston originally came up with the character in 2005, and got another friend to film his first adventure on a mobile phone while parked up in Thornton Heath, before handing the role to stand-up comedian KG “because he’s really good at skating, and I looked a bit wobbly”. “We had to bring a comedy element to it”, KG continues, “and the fact that Shadrack is on skates, wearing tight shorts, and he’s got dry knees, allows him to say stuff that he shouldn’t really say. He’s hard, but there’s something wrong there, and that means he can get away with stuff he wouldn’t otherwise. It’s a way of saying ‘This is jokes’ it allows him to be a bit special”. “A bit special” is one way of putting it. The closing 45 seconds http// of Shadrack’s smooth-skating debut http// is closing in on a million Youtube hits just on its own. And from the moment this clip was first posted in January 2010, things started to move very quickly for its creators. “We weren’t expercting to be the new comedy sensation of the internet”, admits KG, “I remember getting a hundred hits and being, like, ‘wow’”. What do they think it is about these characters that has struck such a chord? “Coming from South London”, Marston explains [he was brought up in Tulse Hill, while KG’s home was in the fairly notorious Myatts Fields area of Brixton], ‘“The hood” in inverted commas, whatever you wanna call it, before the internet there were street dvd’s - Streets Incarcerated, Lord of the Decks, those kinds of things - and they always used to have a bunch of MC’s looking angry in a tight shot. The birth of what we did was to capture that same angriness but make it funny, so at first people thought it was just of one them thugs chatting crap on a DVD, but then they got a shock when they saw the skates”. From the notorious “Harry Potter murders” http// to their latest communique from prison http// , Shadrack and the Mandem have turned “thugs chatting crap” into an art form. But not all the frustration these dangerous characters give comedic vent to comes from the sources their roughneck ways might lead you to expect. Both Marston and KG have university degrees (in media and marketing respectively), and it was their lack of success in translating hard-won educational qualifications into actual paid work that eventually sent them back out into the streets with a camera and a grudge. “Everyone said ‘You need experience before you can get a graduate job’”, KG remembers. “I knew I didn’t have no I experience, so I thought ‘I’m gonna work for free and get some’. I was hoping I was gonna be the great tea-maker. I used to wear tight shiny suits and pointy shoes, like a Jamie Rednapp look - he inspired how I dress and some of the places I worked for free I was the only one in a suit, but that didn’t bother me. I was there to get the job, and I worked my ass off, but the job never came, so I ended up back at Nando’s anyway. And delivering half chickens when you’re hungry and you ain’t had no breakfast is very difficult, because you do want some”. Marston’s memories of the work-experience frontline were no less painful. “Shouts out to Virgin Media. They interviewed me in the hallway, bruv, I knew I weren’t getting that job... Another time I was working as a runner at a production company - I don’t want to drop names, but it was Bikini Films - they sent me out on a biscuit run. I asked ‘What kind of biscuits?’ and they said ‘Anything that dips well, mate’. Anything that dips well? You’ve just gotta smile and say ‘Alright, I’m coming’”. The best comedy often incorporates an element of revenge. And by recycling the rage inspired by their lack of progress up the media career ladder into an act that’s got TV networks beating a path to their door, KG and Marston have certainly turned a negative into a positive. A producer on BBC 2‘s urban dance show No Hats No Trainers saw Shadrack and the Mandem on Youtube, and this it was that relentlessly aspirational R Kelly tribute act Caramel were born. “It was meant to be this solo guy who always calls his bredrens to find out something and then starts singing”, Marston explains of the seductive slow jam “Chicken Wings” http// “but then we decided to make it a duo, because surprisingly we can both kind of hold a note”. Hold a note they most certainly can. And with the advent of hilariously heavy-handed South London coppers Duncan & McCoy http// KG and Marston have also extending their range into the controversial field of law-enforcement. “Obviously everyone on the roads will be saying ‘Oh my gosh, they’re feds now’”, admits KG. “But we don’t want to get type-cast as those guys that just do street comedy”. With live bookings going through the roof, and plans well underway for an ambitious Dirtee Stank Comedy Jam tour - bringing together the leading lights of British skit-comedy and urban music, just as the legendary Def Comedy Jam did in America - KG and Marston don’t have to be too worried about that. A few years ago they might have been a niche concern, but in the aftermath of the Dizzee, Tinchy and Tinie Tempah’s pop crossover triumphs, they’re getting love from as far afield as the US, Australia and “distant countries like Ipswich”. “People are making fake Facebook groups about us with 8000 members and not even giving us access to them”, KG boasts wrily, “that’s when you really know you’re getting somewhere.” So what’s the ultimate goal? “Shadrack and the Mandem and Duncan & McCoy are two brands that definitely need a film” Marston asserts emphatically. “If Ali G can do it, why can’t we?”