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Written It Down Matt & Dave low res

If Matt Saraceni and Dave Zwolenski could tell their past selves that their online improv web series Written It Down would become a YouTube sensation, be picked by superstar comedian Will Ferrell to feature on his website Funny Or Die, or that it would eventually become a sell out live show across the country and at home in Perth, they would have probably come up with the idea a long long time ago. But what exactly is Written It Down, and what can people expect to see under  Fringe World’s spiegeltent? PENNY LANE investigates.

It starts with a piece of paper and a confession – one of the worst, heart wrenching-yet-comical breakups in history– which then fuels a night of improvisation gold.

“We get the audience to write down a reason to break up with someone, and then we ask them if they actually said it to somebody to break up with them, or whether they made it up just because it sounded funny,” says co-creator and host Matt. “And we’ve found in the past, people’s real breakup reasons, and the reasons they’ve been broken up with, are way funnier than anything that you could make up. So a big part of the show comes from these bits of paper that the audience is writing as they’re going into the theatre.”

Matt says it sounds very clichéd, but expect to see the unexpected.

“The actors will literally have no idea what they’re in for when the show starts, and most of it comes from the audience before the show or during the show, so it’s really funny,” the comedian says. “When you watch the guys you can just see the fear enter their eyes as they’re like ‘how am I going to make this ridiculous situation work?’”

The performers on stage are put into a ridiculous situation, which they have to act through before they find out exactly what the scenario is about.

“The one common element of the whole thing is that the performers on stage have to not know something before they read it on stage,” says Matt. “We needed a way to communicate that to the players, and we had all kind of stupid ideas like a waiter comes in and drops it, or a phone rings, but then we realised that the line ‘this is difficult for me to say, so I’ve Written It Down’ just worked the best.”

The live show was developed from Matt and co-producer Dave’s online web series of the same name, which brought them international recognition thanks to a YouTube comment that the boys almost ignored.

“When a video goes well on YouTube you get heaps of ‘we can make you money’ or ‘sign up to our network’ kinds of things, so this one came through and it was like ‘do you want to be part of Funny or Die?’ and we were like, ‘yeah, it’s probably a spam account’,” Matt explains of the initial contact with Will Ferrell’s website. “But then I clicked on it and realised it was the actual Funny or Die YouTube channel.”

The web series has since become a feature on the website.

“We wanted to combine our talents so we filmed this web series and it went really well online, and then from that we decided it would work as a live format, because the inspiration came from a live format – it’s kind of gone full circle.”

The same can be said for the cast at Fringe this year.

“The majority of the cast is from WA, and most of them moved to Melbourne or Sydney to chase fame, fortune, whatever,” says Matt. “But now when we’re doing the live show, it’s a great chance to get these really big Eastern States comedians back into the spiegeltent at Perth Fringe, and bring them home.”

Written It Down shows at Fringe World, from February 12-17. Tickets via 

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