Maddy and Marina Bye are real-life sisters performing their show Siblings at the Edinburgh Fringe. They are the daughters of comedy actress Ruby Wax and legendary TV comedy director Ed Bye.
Maddy went to the Gaulier clown school in Paris. Marina trained at the Guildhall theatre school in London.
So, obviously, I chatted to them.
JOHN: Your mother and father are both in showbiz…
MADDY: It’s weird. I don’t think either of us expected to be here doing this. It just sort of happened.
MARINA: I always liked to sing and dance and be a monkey slave for people. And Maddy did that too. But then I went to drama school to kind of pursue the acting career.
MADDY: And it was my godfather actually who sent me to clown school. I was working in PR in London and then I ran away to clown school in Paris.
JOHN: Who is your godfather?
MADDY: Alan Rickman.
JOHN: So Alan Rickman decided you shouldn’t be an actor.
MADDY: I should be a clown, yeah. Well, I was actually frickin’ lucky to have him in my life. I kiss the ground he walked on. One day I told him about Gaulier and he was like: What are you doing? You have to go.
JOHN (TO MARINA): But he didn’t tell you to go to clown school.
MARINA: No, he didn’t. I think he was quite happy I went to drama school. He was very supportive. He came to every single show I did there.
JOHN: Was your father a performer originally?
MARINA: No, but he’s so funny he should be.
MADDY: He’s just so funny. An English gentleman.
MARINA: That’s what’s great about our parents. My mum is very…
MADDY: One is very American and one is very British.
MARINA: Yeah. Two different characters. So I think Maddy and I have a really nice balance in our comedy because of that. It can be a bit showy and big… but then be very British.
JOHN: So you have decided to be sketch comedians… An art form that has died or is dying or is no longer popular…
MARINA: We’re bringing it back!
MADDY: If you wanted to categorise our show, I guess it would go into ‘sketch comedy’, but it’s not standard. Someone reviewed us by saying that the sketches start off quite sketchy but end in a sort of bizarre, uncomfortable clown world that doesn’t make much sense and is completely absurd. We really like being quite dark and…
MARINA: Our aim for every sketch is to start quite normal and structured and then shock as much as we can by taking it somewhere dark.
JOHN: Is there a single thread to the show?
MARINA: Yes. To do with us being siblings and rivals and me thinking I’m a lot better than Maddy because I have professional, classical training and Maddy saying: C’mon. No-one wants to see that! So it’s taking the piss out of that: I’m classically-trained! Everyone wants to see me!
MADDY: And I’m like the idiot, I guess.
MARINA: Yeah. But then you win… a lot!… Because no-one does want to see…
MADDY: And we’re taking the piss out of our actual selves.
MARINA: Completely. We’ve had to lose all sense of dignity.
JOHN: I’m not keen on dignity. I like a bit of quirky.
MARINA: I guess there’s the story of fisting up the arsehole in the film I was in.
MARINA: I fisted a man up the arsehole to split into my male identical alien twin.
MADDY: It was a Neil Gaiman film.
MARINA: The title was How To Talk To Girls at Parties.
JOHN: Ah!… So… In your Siblings show, are you playing characters or being yourselves?
MARINA: It’s really hard to explain.
MADDY: The majority of the show, we are characters.
MARINA: But we are ourselves at times – a heightened version of ourselves.
JOHN: You previewed the Siblings show at the Brighton Fringe.
MARINA: We did one show where everyone in the audience was just with us. You know that moment when you’re all on the wave together? We thought: Amazing! Wow! The next night we were sold out but fake blood spilt backstage so Maddy and I were, inexplicably, covered in fake blood for the entire show. People were not only laughing but also really concerned…
MADDY:…that we had stabbed ourselves backstage.
MARINA: I looked over at Maddy at one point and there was a gentle drop of blood running down her nose. I thought: This is really ruining the element of comedy.
MADDY: There was fake blood on someone’s face in the third row. We don’t know how it got there.
JOHN: Did the person in the third row know they had fake blood on them?
MADDY & MARINA (TOGETHER): No!
MARINA: We thought: Let’s just not say anything.
JOHN: The worst thing is that, for at least the next three years, you are going to be referred-to as Ruby Wax’s daughters rather than yourselves. That must be frustrating.
MARINA: My personal reaction is that I’m not at all ashamed that she is who she is. I think she’s amazing. And both our parents have been so supportive.
MADDY: It’s hard, maybe, when you know people have come in with a pre-conceived idea about your comedy or you as a person.
MARINA: We hope they will leave liking US.
MADDY: Liking or disliking US.