This is taken from an interview I did for this week’s Beat Magazine.

If slightly insane sketch comedy is your bag then checking out The Pajama Men this Comedy Festival is your ticket to LOLtown. New Mexico’s favourite Barry award winning absurdist comedy duo met during High School and have been performing together under the guise of The Pajama Men since 2000. Mark Chavez and Shenoah Allen are performing a very limited run of their show In The Middle of Noone at this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival and took some time out of their busy schedules to answer a few questions posed to them by yours truly

What’s your favourite thing about Melbourne and The Comedy Festival?

You, you little crouton. – Shenoah

Who have been your festival highlights thus far?

Tim Vine. I would love to spend a month interning as a test audience for him. – Mark

[Writer’s note: they chose an act not performing at the festival. How’s that for absurdist?]

What are the three most important things you need to survive the comedy festival?

1)Turn agressive comedians upside-down and they’ll fall asleep.
2) If confronted by an earthquake of jokes, stand under a doorway.
3) On a serious note, get through boring shows by imagining the performers have razor thin pink mohawks. This is a game Mark taught me, works like a charm. – Shenoah

How has your show changed from last year? What kind of themes are we talking?

Our show hasn’t changed since last year. It’s the same show only more refined. So I think the theme here is “coasting”. – Mark

How do you workshop ideas?

Half in a studio (apartment) and half on stage in front of the audience. We need to perform to figure out what’s working. We do most of it on our feet. The story lines however are worked out in cafes. Romantic, no? Like Hemingway. – Shenoah

Where do you find inspiration?

From our friends, acquaintances, and strangers. Taking on the personalities and personality quirks of people we’ve met or interacted with usually gives us a free ticket for the bus to Funny Town. – Mark

What is your favourite character to play?

It changes, but finding characters we like is the main thing fo’ sho’. Most of our writing comes out of taking on characters and improvising and when you find a good one it can really do the work for you. – Shenoah

What’s the most absurd, ridiculous sketch you’ve ever come up with?

We usually don’t allow the most absurd stuff into the shows (except of course the Cute Thing and French Woman bit, which took some real convincing from Mark), for example, we often perform a sketch (for each other only) about a man who is running late for the “backpack return store” who has to shed weight to get there faster by dropping the backpack that he is, of course, running to the store to return. This is a stupid sketch, because a) what is a “backpack return store” and b) it’s more fun to do than is funny. – Mark

Sketch comedy rarely escapes the ‘undergraduate’ tag – do you think that the form can be rehabilitated in the eyes of the general public, or will it still remain?

Well, most of it is pretty undergraduate, let’s not kid ourselves. – Shenoah

You know we call them “pyjamas” not “pajamas” in Australia, right?

All too well. Many “jokes” are made by radio presenters or MC’s of gigs that go something like this: “they can’t spell, but we’ll forgive them for that….etc” -Mark

Is there a difference between your “stage pyjamas” and your “bedroom pyjamas”?

We wear suits in bed. – Shenoah

How do you deal with spending so much time together?

We generally interact with each other as many different characters. It really keeps us from going nuts, if I were ever to become a prison councilor (my other dream job) I’d suggest cell-mates do the same. – Mark

The Pajama Men will be performing In The Middle of Noone at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival from April 17 to 21, The Princess Theatre at 7.30pm. For ticketing information please visit comedyfestival.com.au.

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