If you are feeling chippy — and I hope you are not — you might find Totally Tom annoying.
If you are feeling chippy — and I hope you are not — you might find Totally Tom annoying. Here are two Old Etonians, Tom Palmer and Tom Stourton, who want to be comedians. They have been catapulted towards success at an early age thanks to the internet, and their act is all the rage at this month’s Edinburgh Fringe. Girls like them, obviously. ‘Oh, my God, Tom!’ shouts a nubile blonde as they walk into the room. ‘I was just about to text you!’
Chippiness, however, would be quite the wrong reaction. Totally Tom are totally brilliant. They are talented, funny, and admirably self-effacing. ‘We’re just bitter dorks,’ says Stourton (who is, incidentally, son of Ed, the writer and broadcaster). ‘A lot of our jokes and characters come from that.’
Palmer and Stourton, who are both 23, have spent much of their lives trying to make each other laugh: they have the instinctive understanding of two blokes who have watched a lot of TV together. ‘We’ve always done little voices and sketches between ourselves,’ says Palmer, who is the shorter and more talkative Tom. ‘And when we were 13 or 14 we used to do silly little review shows at school.’ They clearly had a gift for acting and their drama teacher, Simon Dormandy, encouraged them. ‘He was a kind of revolutionary, Robin-Williams-from-Dead-Poets-Society-style teacher,’ says Palmer, ‘not nearly as cheesy but just as inspiring.’ ‘And none of us committed suicide,’ adds Stourton.
After school, Stourton went to Bristol University and Palmer to Oxford, but they still wanted to do comedy together. ‘At some point we decided to put our money where our mouth was,’ says Palmer. ‘So we got a camera and a microphone and stuff and just started trying to film a mockumentary.’
The result was High Renaissance Man, a brilliant spoof about an ex-public school student at Bristol University, which Tom and Tom posted on the internet.