Epic Win: Joe Lycett Interview

New game show Epic Win starts this Saturday. It’s fronted by Alexander Armstrong but hotly tipped new comedian Joe Lycett will be helping speed along the proceedings – sort of like a modern day George Dawes without the drums (or the baby outfit).

We caught up with Joe to talk about useless talents, Edinburgh Festival and dressing up like Doctor Who.

Hi Joe, How are you doing?

I’m very well, how are you?

I’m not so bad, thanks. Tell me a bit about what Epic Win…

Basically it’s a crazy game show where people come on with useless but brilliant talents. People like a butcher who can identify different types of meat using only his feet – that kind of useless skill that arguably should be celebrated, but it’s not useful in any applicable sense in real life.

I’m guessing by the title of the show that there’s something they can win?

They can win a prestigious Epic Win trophy and also some money as well – up to £3,000. We have a panel of three comedy judges headed by Micky Flanagan and they can decide individually to award up to £1,000. The contestant then has to judge how much the judge has awarded them for their act. If they guess the right amount or under it, they go home with that money. If their guess is over, they go home with nothing.

So who’s been your favourite act so far on the show then?

I don’t know, there’s been so many brilliant ones! We’ve had a couple of contortionists that were amazing. There was a brilliant guy who was a tree surgeon that could create a bowl and chopsticks and a stir fry using only a chainsaw in three minutes. It was so amazing, and he was incredible to watch.

You do kind of have to wonder how these people realise they have these talents…

Ha! Yeah, I don’t know how he worked that one out – he was obviously very skilled with a chainsaw. He literally had a bit of this tree and he cut it all up. It was phenomenon – really, really impressive. What’s great also if that all of the contestants have been lovely as well. Things like Britain’s Got Talent, which we wanted to really stay clear of, take the mickey out of contestants. But we really keen to celebrate their talents rather than simply take the piss out of them.

I understand. So what’s your role in the show then?

I can’t think of anything like it really on television, but I’m basically an on screen announcer. I introduce the panel and the challengers, but I also get involved in the challenges themselves too sometimes. My official title is the Epic Announcer – quite like George Dawes from Shooting Stars, in that I appear then I disappear at various points in the show. I’m sort of an odd-jobs man – I’m there to help.

But no drum kit as of yet?

No, but I will maybe get that installed in series two. Who knows!

I know you’ve got a history of standup. Do you get much input in writing jokes or ad-libbing at all?

Yeah, I was really amazed. As a nobody currently, they gave me so much sway, not only to ad-lib but also in the development of the show. There were quite a few ideas that came about just from me messing about. If it works, then we use it, if it doesn’t then we won’t. Telly has been really handy coming from a stand up background, where if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. On telly, if something doesn’t work, they can just cut it out which is a lovely luxury to have. They’ve been amazing in letting me play with the format, and I’m very grateful for that.

I’ve heard that you’re good at doing a wide range of voices, including one that you didn’t realise you had until you picked up a box?!

Yes, that’s well the actual voice comes from. It’s a kind of homage to the X Factor style voice. I discovered I can do something similar when I picked up a box and made quite a odd, straining type noise, you know? That was basically where it came from.

You couldn’t give me an example of it now?

Basically the noise I did was a sort of ‘ooooo-uhhhhhh!’. That’s the only way I can describe it and it sort of developed from there. Just to say – I am in a taxi in Edinburgh at the moment though.

Ok, point taken, I’ll hold fire in going through the rest of the voices. I’m guessing the box was rather heavy though?

Ha! Yes, it was a heavy box!

Do you get to dress up on the show at all?

Yes! I do have some mad costumes. I dress up as Tom Baker’s Doctor Who and a hot dog – a highlight for me. We had a guy on that can eat 100 sausages in one minute…unbelievable. Also I’ve been a fishmonger and a cinema steward-all sort of things really. It’s been so fun turning up not knowing what I’m wearing, and either vetoing it or just enjoying it. The costume department have been really amazing.

You’ll have to tell me what’s been vetoed…

Just things like dressing up as a woman really. Things like that are an obvious joke really which I’ve tried to avoid. Also I’m not a big fan of my legs being on show either.

Your website says you’re a stand-up comedian and a graphic designer – interesting combination…

They’re the two different things that I love basically, and I’ve been lucky enough to be able to do both and not get a proper job! I do the design as a hobby on the side really – hopefully at one stage I’ll be able to develop it into more of a main business. Comedy has been very busy recently, especially up in Edinburgh. I’ve been here for the whole month. I’m doing a show with three really good new comics called the Comedy Reserve, which Jack Whitehall, Holly Walsh and Daniel Rigby (who just won a BAFTA) did in previous years. Stand up for me is where it’s at. It’s my first love and I’m addicted to it. The Edinburgh Fringe is therefore a must for me – I have to be here. This is also where I got spotted originally by one of the guys who developed the show.

Sounds like the place to be! Thanks for the chat, all the best for the future.

Thanks Nathan, take care.