‘Lockdown’ – which now resembles a word representing an episode from a futuristic, post-apocalyptic prison drama more than it did before – was a time in which many people struggled: some bemoaned the loss of past freedoms, others huddle, petrified, into the corners of their heavily barricaded rooms with the intoxicating mephitis of antibacterial hand gel billowing through the gaps in their boarded-up windows, and some didn’t make it out (RIP). For a small but intrepid minority, however, ‘lockdown’ became a time of liberation from the trappings of normality; a great creative freedom presented itself to those who could see the opportunity.
The comedy duo of Katerina Robinson and Kat Ronson, known collectively as Kat & Kat, are two such capitalisers of that rarely afforded, almost mythological luxury of ‘lockdown’ time-freedom, who set about creating something – carpe diem style. And what they created was their first major work of comedy: a six-episode mockumentary series going by the name of Lads.
Lads follows Dave (Ronson) and Charlie (Robinson), two 17-year-old chavs (a word Owen Jones would rather we did not use) from East London through the relative bleakness of being young with not much to do. There are no grandiose plot-lines, no magniloquent production, no bombastic supporting characters; just a whole bunch of organic, interpersonal double act banter – and therein lies their charm. The mockumentary format of sitcom seems to determine a certain level of mundanity – 2012 and W1A, for instance, buck that trend being based around major events or organisations – and Kat & Kat capture the characteristic banality of mockumentary-making very capably.
Any mockumentary is going to be held up, unfairly, against the heavyweights of the genre – People Just Do Nothing, This Country, The Office, and so on – because the art of acting without acting requires a certain way of speaking, a certain awkwardness of the characters who are supposedly not used to being filmed. It is perhaps a human instinct to compare one art thing to another, or a lazy thing critics do, but it is wholly useless to pit Lads against some of the best comedies in British history from the get go – this is not a mockumentary rap battle.
With that being said, if we’re comparing things up in here, which we do appear to be doing, one might look to the original People Just Do Nothing webisodes as the closest thing to Kat & Kat’s Lads. The simple single-camera set up, the anger issues of Lads’ Dave and PJDN’s MC Sniper (later MC Grinda), and the minor, localised plot-lines forming both shows’ main narratives place the Kats’ offering in a familiar terrain to those boys from Brentford.
Whatever the case may be, K&K certainly hold their own in the mocku-market. Some of their improvised exchanges produce some excellent pieces of dialogue: riffing on names in episode one throws up some lovely work as Charlie muses “we don’t know many ‘Lukes’… we don’t really mix with ‘Lukes’”, concluding that Luke from thereon shall be known as “man”; and the back-and-forth on the acronym W.A.P. in episode five demonstrates some top-notch double act fodder – is it “Waitrose and Partners”? Or is it “wet ass periods”? Who knows?!
All-in-all, Lads is a cracker of a first attempt at sitcom creation from two of British comedy’s brightest new talents. The feat of writing, directing, and starring in six roughly 20-minute episodes of comedy is an impressive feat by anyone’s standards, and Kat & Kat have firmly placed themselves on the British comedy map, at least in the same world as your Gervais and Merchants, your Coopers, your Stamp and Mustafas, by doing so. And the fact that the show is selling on Vimeo is a testament to the Duo’s hard work, ambition, and positivity during a period of tremendous fear and antibacterial-soaked hard-times.
READ: The Kat and Kat Interview
INTERVIEW: Kat & Kat: “I’d like to think I can make someone laugh and give them a boner at the same time”
Katerina Robinson and Kat Ronson, two British comedy legends in the making, discuss life and comedy with Adrian Swall