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Jekyll X James: Cactus Blastus

Jekyll x James return to Melbourne with their own unique brand of musical storytelling in Cactus Blastus, a riff on the western genre. I asked Cameron James to fill me in a bit more on the flavour of the show. "Jared and I do music, comedy, sketch comedy and clowning all in one. We play live music - live hip hop and punk songs - and then we loop that music and we do sketches and stupid shit on top of it...last year’s show was horror-themed, this year’s show is cowboy and spaghetti western themed." They’re covering as much of the genre that they can. "Our show is a live action peyote trip - the audience comes on a psychedelic peyote trip with us through the wild west."
 
It's the perfect excuse to get out the movies that made the genre, to get your teeth into some hardcore research, something that went a little bit awry in Jared and Cameron's plans. "We're both movie fans so we’ve seen a whole chunk of westerns in our time. We went to the video shop - I can’t believe they still exist - but we got out 15 westerns, and we started watching one, and then we just sort of stopped watching it and started watching YouTube videos of people being hit in the face or something - we lost interest in the research very quickly, and instead started riffing off the things we already knew, the things we had seen before and whatnot. It’s art."
 
The western is a large and varied genre as well, so the pair are trying to stick to the old-school tropes, rather than battle with such groundbreaking films as Wild Wild West. "I’m sure we had a big conversation about [the giant mechanical spider], but we decided that Will Smith already covered it so deftly. We’re more into the spaghetti westerns, the westerns made by Italians and all the westerns made by people who were taking LSD in the '60s, that’s kind of the stuff that we’re more interested in."
 
Jekyll and James circled each other in their own solo stand up careers before finally deciding to join forces, but the process was organic. "Jared would be onstage and I’d be in the audience and I would heckle him, and then it would become a sketch. We’d bomb each other’s sets and hijack each other’s shows from time to time, and then last year we wrote our first actual show...and that’s how we found our actual style...I think, that I haven’t seen anyone else do a combination of music and clowning."
 
Although they've been compared to The Mighty Boosh and Flight of the Conchords, it's hard to pin down the pair's influences, as they prefer to continue working on their style, "It’s really about coming up with the best stupid idea - we put a high premium on stupidity in our writing."
 
After Melbourne the pair are continuing to tour, but are also looking to work in another direction. "We haven’t really discussed this in depth, but we’re also thinking of making this the basis of a web series. I see it moving in that direction beyond being a live show, I see it becoming something new online. I haven’t really discussed this much with Jared."
I point out that if I put it in the article then it will have to become true. "Exactly! There’s no argument with that."
 
BY SAM WILSON

Venues: Forum Theatre - Carpet Room & Pizza Room, Cnr Flinders & Russell St, CBD
Dates: March 26 - April 19 (except Mondays)
Times: 9.45pm (Sundays 8.45pm)
Tickets: $15 - $18