'It's comedy. If you're not laughing, you're in trouble' | Samson Kayo and Theo Barklem-Biggs  on new sitcom Sliced

'It's comedy. If you're not laughing, you're in trouble'

Samson Kayo and Theo Barklem-Biggs on new sitcom Sliced

Samson Kayo admits he didn’t have to look too far for inspiration for his new comedy series Sliced, about a couple of pizza delivery guys and best mates, nor for the actor who would star alongside him.

For Kayo, best known for starring in Timewasters, used to do deliveries for Pizza Hut. And then he cast one of his closest friends, Theo Barklem-Biggs as his on-screen pal, too.

‘Me and Theo are so close, it just made sense,’ he said. ‘He's such a great actor. We've known each other for so long, and we hang out daily.

‘It just made sense to get someone that I know and have a rapport with, who just gets me and I get him: if we get each other's mindsets then you're already halfway there.’

‘The rest of it is just a lot of messing about. There was a lot of improvisation. It helps when your director can see that this is genuine chemistry and keep those things in. It's just those genuine little moments, those gems, that really come out on screen. ‘

Of course, that also meant it was hard to get filming done somettimes as they were laughing so much. Kayo admits: ‘They say I’m the worst corpser

‘But it's funny, ain't it? It's comedy. If you're not laughing, you're in trouble. It was a lot of fun.

‘Laurie, our first assistant director, bless him, he went through it. He was like, "Look, we haven't got time. We really need to get this." I'm like, ‘"Don't say we need to get it, because then we’re going to laugh even more. It's not going to work."

Barklem-Biggs agrees: ‘Samson is a terrible, terrible, terrible corpser. I thought I was bad, man, and then I met Samson.

‘But it's a lot of fun. Even with the crew, there was a lot of laughter. I've had people that worked on the job come up to me and say how fun it was to work on. There were a couple of moments when we were behind and we were close to the bone, yes, but we got through it.’

And both agree that the worst scenes for cracking up involved David Mumeni, who plays their boss Mario ‘an Arabic guy that wants to be Italian essentially’.

‘There’s a bit where he basically shows us his balls,’ Barklem-Biggs says. ‘We couldn't stop laughing at that whole scene. Samson couldn't keep it together that day. I think we had two days on that. But when you're laughing it's not a problem really, you know what I mean? It’s supposed to be funny.’

He first met Kayo in 2011 – ‘I believe it was at the Soho Theatre’  – and the pair became increasingly close. ‘We got on and then we ended up working on a pilot the next year and we’ve just stayed in touch ever since then,’ Barklem-Biggs says.

‘About three years ago I was working on a market stall between jobs. He came to show me the script [for Sliced] and I was like, "This is great," but part of me being cynical I wasn't sure if it would go anywhere.

‘Still, I felt quite flattered that he asked me to do it. He says he's always thought of me for the role and that was flattering as well.’

Kayo drew on his experiences at Pizza Hut for Sliced, thinking to himself: ’Imagine knocking on one of these doors and being invited in.’ 

‘It's like in Cheers with the bar,’ he says. ‘The story comes into the bar, doesn't it? So, I was like, "Imagine if we walk into the story." There are endless options and storylines you can go down. Plus, delivery is so prominent now.’

Barklem-Biggs adds: ‘I think Samson's speaking from some sort of experience with all of these characters. We all know what they're like basically: those kind of B-rate chicken shops. It's really diverse as well. It's a good place to set something because you must meet some odd people as a delivery driver. I just think there is a lot of scope with that idea.’

‘I feel like there's a genuine, just a natural, everyday feel to it,’ Kay agrees. ‘It's like we highlight things that you see, like a woman with a pushchair arguing with her son's dad about the rent and how he's got a small penis. You would pass that and just think nothing of it - we wanted to throw little bits of that in the show to kind of make it feel like not reality, but an actual everyday occurrence. 

‘It’s like a subtle authenticity that you just see every day but normally you don't put it in because it doesn't need to be there. We made it so that those things are highlighted. We sprinkle it all through the episodes. There's loads of them: hopefully, people will spot them.’

And even some incidents when he was filming on his moped around his South London stomping ground were fodder  for the show. 

‘We did some montage shots around Peckham and I was genuinely seeing my friends,’ Kayo says. ‘There's like a little kid that I know, it was like twelve o'clock and this little kid wasn't in school. If you see in the show – I think we've kept it in  – where I'm riding and I go, "Why are you not in school?" That kid wasn't in the show, he's just a random kid.’

But at the show’s heart is the bromance between the two main characters Ricky (‘he thinks he's a step ahead of everything but he's actually probably two steps behind’) and Joshua (‘the worrier, he's the one that wants things to go well. He's not really a lucky person so his fortune is always quite messed up really but he's trying to turn it around’)

‘Together they make a really cool partnership because it's like yin and yang,’ Kayo says. ‘They complement each other in really cool ways.’

‘I think the central relationship is really strong so there are sweet, lovely moments that I don't think you find in a lot of comedies actually,’ Barklem-Biggs agrees. ‘It's also a laugh every six seconds. You know they say, "A laugh a minute?" Well this is constant.’

Indeed three episodes – which will be stripped on Dave at 10pm on three consecutive nights: May 15, 16 and 17 – might not be enough to tell all the stories they want, the pair heavily hint ‘There's a lot that Samson has planned and relationships to grow in directions that you might not expect,’ Barklem-Biggs says.

But for now Kayo is happy he’s got his show to air at all.

‘It felt so surreal though, because this is the first thing that I've ever written that's had a series,’ he says. 

‘I remember when I did Timewasters, I'd look at Daniel Taylor Lawrence, who created that and I just kept going to him like, "Bro, this came from your head!" Like, "Look at this!"

‘It was kind of weird that now I had that same sort of surreal feeling – so weird to see it coming to life.’

Published: 28 Apr 2019

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