Double Edinburgh Comedy award nominee and Laugh Out London favourite Liam Williams has a new show that is available to view on BBC Three. Pls Like is a mockumentary following Liam as he meets the Vlogging celebrities of YouTube in order secure a prize of £10,000.
The Vloggers are played by an extremely impressive cast of comedians, including Lolly Adefope, Emma Sidi, Jon Pointing, Jamie Demetriou, Yuriko Kotani, Rose Matafeo, plus a turn by Tim Key as a “Vlogging talent agent”. The show neatly plays the happy go lucky charm of the vloggers against Liam’s deep rooted cynicism for the emptiness of this celebrity culture. We managed to chat to him about the show.
Hey Liam, how did the project come about?
It was a product of perseverance really. The producer, Rupert Majendie, and the show’s creator, Olly Cambridge, had been discussing it for a while and, I think, had pitched it to the BBC who said they feared it would be too light and sugary. So I suppose those guys thought ‘who’s the opposite of light and sugary?’ and flatteringly decided the answer was me. It took at least another year after I came on board to actually persuade the BBC to make it.
It’s got a pretty incredible cast. Were most of them familiar with what you are parodying?
Some were and therefore brought a lot to their characters. It was a very collaborative process and there was a lot of improvisation. Tim Key claims to have been completely unfamiliar with what we were parodying before we started. And, I believe, remains so still.
Who are you favorite real life youtube personalities?
I must admit I never really learned to love the vloggers but I did soften in my derision. For a while I quite liked a yoga vlogger called Adriene Mishler.
Have any of the character been inspired by them?
All the characters were partly based really vloggers or (a sort of composite of various vloggers) but through the writing and improv they all became quite distinct from the original sources.
Have you ever been tempted by “Vlogging” yourself? Can you see the appeal?
I keep thinking I should probably have given it a go irl [in real life – hi, young Ed] by now. And I did see an article about Pls Like written by a vlogging commentator (such people exist now) questioning whether a show about Youtubers written by a non-Youtuber could work. I just don’t think I have the right energy. I like to speak slowly and pause a lot, which doesn’t really fly on Youtube.
What do you think drives these “Vloggers” to start, can you see any similarities between them and comics on the circuit?
Yes and I’m sure there are a lot of people who do both. I suppose it’s the same kind of itch to share your thoughts or your jokes or whatever. It would be a bit rich of me to criticise vloggers for being narcissists or attention seekers.
Maybe it’s a bit like how comedy was a few years ago when it was really popular and there were loads of new stand ups and the bubble, didn’t perhaps burst, but certainly shrank (is it possible for bubbles to shrink?) and it became harder to get a start but those who stuck around were really committed and somehow the scene became a bit more varied and interesting stuff could flourish on the fringes. Maybe it will be the same will happen with vloggers. Or maybe that’s all complete bullshit.
When we end up on Youtube at 3am on a Friday night it’s usually to watch theme songs from long forgotten cartoons in the 90’s. What kind of videos so you find strangely compelling?
ASMR videos. If you don’t know what ASMR is, look it up.
Keeping the pace and energy up. It’s sort of expected that you’ll pause and digress and mix up the pace across an hour. Short form TV stuff needs to be quite break-neck which isn’t my natural style but it’s been a fun challenge.
The first episode of Pls Like is below, the second will be out next Saturday