The last time Zuma Puma aka Nelly Scott appeared in this blog was in May last year, when she was showing her armpit hair at her weekly Lost Cabaret show.
“I’ve got an agent now,” she told me this week, “and I’m doing auditions. I did one yesterday for the lead role in a feature film. I don’t know if they’ll take me, because I think they probably want a British actor and I’m Canadian.”
Lost Cabaret continues, as do her occasional appearances as Nancy Sanazi singing Jackboots Are Made For Walking and other subtle classics in Frank Sanazi’s Das Vegas Nights – the next one is this Saturday at the Leicester Comedy Festival – Das Vegas 3 (Zis Time We Win).
“It’s going to be filmed by a Canadian documentary artist,” Zuma/Nelly told me, “which might be really fascinating; I don’t know how the Canadian audience will react to Das Vegas Night.”
And then there is her upcoming Grumpy Lettuce web series.
“It’s going to be up-and-running at the end of April or early May,” Zuma/Nelly told me. “We have something like 14 episodes already filmed and now we’re doing post-production, but it takes time. We have three editors working on it. The director Andrew Phan and I go to the editing studio every Saturday.”
“You’re not the director?” I asked.
“No. I’m the creator. Directing film is not like directing theatre; I don’t know anything about film, which is kinda why I wanted to do this project. Well, it’s not that I don’t know anything about film. I did a web series last year and some short films.”
“What was the web series last year?” I asked.
“The Backbenchers – Joz Norris was in it as well and both of us have been nominated as Best Actors in comedy at the L.A.Web Festival in April, which they say is the biggest web festival in the world.”
“And now Grumpy Lettuce?” I asked.
“Well, we’ve been working on that since before June last year. My boyfriend Kamal and I were thinking that a lot of people have come through Lost Cabaret – We need to get these characters on film. That would be such an interesting project – So we started thinking up situations to fit characters like Dan Lees’ Jazz Prophet or Annie Bashford as The Widow or Sharney Nougher’s Australian therapist or Kamal’s Bollywood star character – he puts a wig over his dreadlocks.”
“What’s your character?” I asked.
“I’m my Zuma Puma leopard-print character who just shows up unexpectedly and randomly. But we all play multiple characters, sometimes straight. The idea of Grumpy Lettuce is that it’s like Mighty Boosh characters put into our own real world – normal everyday situations – and then we meet these wild out-there characters, like you sometimes do in normal life.”
“Why is it taking so much post-production?”
“Because there’s 23 sketches. We probably have over 50 hours of filming and each hour we have to make into a minute-an-a-half or a 2-minute sketch.”
“Why is it called Grumpy Lettuce?
“It goes back to when I first moved to London two yeas ago. I moved here for my grandfather’s funeral and visited Annie Bashford and started playing like the times we were back at Gaulier in Paris and we came up with this ridiculous sketch with The Widow where she got naked with the lettuce.
“So we started to look up names for our double act because we were calling ourselves The What-Whats, which is a horrible name. We looked up ‘lettuce’ online and the first thing that came up was ‘grumpy lettuce’ with the Urban Dictionary meaning for ‘grumpy lettuce’.”
“Which is?” I asked.
“Unkempt vagina. So Annie and I thought: This is perfect. That’s exactly what we want to call our female double-act.
“Then Annie and I stopped working together – we’re still good friends – and so, when Kamal and I were coming up with names for the web series, the great ones we thought of were already taken. Or, if we decided on one and got the Facebook page and started designing a logo, some of the other cast members would say: No! That’s a horrible name! And the only great name I could think of was Grumpy Lettuce.
“It’s got a double-meaning, it’s funny and you get an image in your head of an angry-looking lettuce, which is kinda cute. If you think of a grumpy lettuce, you think of a lettuce that doesn’t quite fit in, which is kinda what our web series is about – all of these characters don’t fit into our real world, even though some are based on real-life people. And, the minute I told people Grumpy Lettuce, everyone said: That’s an amazing name!”
“And Annie Bashford is in it,” I said.
“Yes. She almost got crushed during the shoot.”
“Physically?” I asked.
“By a lettuce?”
“No. By a very dangerous stunt that I would have made safer if I had been there on that day. I don’t want to give away the punchline of the sketch.”
“I always find,” I said, “that it’s best not to kill the performers.”
“Different Ways To Kill Annie,” said Zuma/Nelly, “Maybe that’s what the show should have been called.”
“The logo might be difficult,” I suggested.