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Sam Willis is Tape Face. Currently competing in America’s Got Talent following many sold out shows at Edinburgh and across the world, he’s bringing his curious, life affirming and hilarious show to Norwich Playhouse for three consecutive nights this month. I grabbed a quick chat with this very busy artiste ahead of time.


You do stand up comedy with no talking, drama with no acting and punch lines with no words. Where did the idea for this format originate? I used to do an old show where I talked a lot - I wanted a challenge to entertain without words. Who or what inspired you when you were young to take up your current career? A Paul Daniels Magic set was given to me when I was small and that was the very first step into show business for me. Not long ago you changed your name from Te Boy With Tape On His Face to Tape Face – was it just because it’s easier? It was more international and easier to translate into bother languages. Tape Face turned out to be what most of my friends were calling me anyways as well. How did you devise this particular character? Did it develop out of previous characters? Tis character developed very organically as it was never


meant to be this big. It was originally a five minute sketch that just grew. As the content grew so did my understanding of what the character would and wouldn’t do. You’ve sold out your shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for four years in a row. Can you put your finger on the magic that Edinburgh holds for comedians? Edinburgh isn’t magical, it’s hard work and you need to have a plan and a strategy. Te closest to putting my finger on the magic that is Edinburgh is pointing it in the direction to Te Clam Shell for chips. Clowning is an ancient art form – have you had any formal training? I studied at a circus school in New Zealand for two years but my focus was in juggling - my clown skills came to me on the streets and on the stage. Your show is quite playful and childish – do you think as you age you may come up with another concept? Maybe. At this stage I like being Tape Face and will keep doing that until he’s not fun.


How much of your own character is in this show? Te appreciation of simple pleasures and the world in general seems to be quite a prominent aspect of it. Quite a bit of nine year old me live inside him. It is one of the reason I love doing the show as it keeps me young. How do you go about developing a new show, and how long does it generally take? I can sometimes take only three months to develop a new hour but there are times it can drag on for up to a year. I have to ask – what happens if you have a cold and can’t breathe through your nose?! A traditional circus sideshow stunt involving a hammer and a nail sorts things out! You’ve been touring with your show all over the world – is there one particular show that you’ll never forget? Te first standing ovation in Edinburgh was a goody. Te Royal Variety Show was easily in the top five and I was also luck enough to play the Royal Albert Hall. Funny job this!


You heavily involve your audience members in your shows – have you ever had a disaster? Not yet. You’re currently a contestant on America’s Got Talent – how’s it going? So far it’s been good…I guess I will be able to tell you more once the show is over! You’re doing four nights in a row at Norwich Playhouse, and I know you’ve been here before – how do you find Norwich audiences? We are notorious for being rather quiet and reserved! I have always liked Norwich crowds and I think I must be lucky as the quiet reserved ones stay at home and the fun playful ones all come along to my shows!


LIZZ PAGE


INFORMATION Tape Face is appearing at Norwich Playhouse on three dates, 26 – 29th September. Tickets are available from norwichplayhouse.co.uk


outlineonline.co.uk / September 2016 / 51


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