The Delightful Sausage: ‘Imposter syndrome propelled us forward’

When Amy Gledhill and Chris Cantrill learned they had been nominated for the 2019 Edinburgh Comedy Awards – the Oscars for live comedy – they were hiding in a nearby field.

The comedy duo, also known as Delightful Sausage, had performed Ginster’s Paradise, a show set in a grim Butlin-style summer camp where their characters work as “salmon coats” performers. It was their third time at the festival together and things were better than ever, but they didn’t want to get ahead of themselves.

“We knew when the nominations were coming out, so we thought, ‘We’re going to be alone and sad together for half an hour.’ But then we were nominated. Amy didn’t believe me, [and] I thought I was telling a lie to upset her! Cantrill laughs. It took 15 minutes for Gledhill to accept the news was true.

In the conversation, Cantrill, from Bradford, and Gledhill, from Hull, have a quick laugh, delighting each other with nonsensical turns of phrase and friendly roasting. They are also quick to deflect compliments.

“It’s kind of like King’s Troubles,” Cantrill continues. “But I found [the nomination] very overwhelming. During a night for the nominees, the flow of compliments became too much. “We kind of had panic attacks and had to go out. So we went back to the field!

Ginster’s Paradise more than deserved its nomination. The couple’s work is peppered with dark, nostalgic references to British eccentricities: workers’ clubs, variety shows, village life and, of course, meat. When they started performing together in Manchester in 2016, The Delightful Sausage was the name of their comedy night. They donned hot dog and butcher outfits to keep with the theme.

There’s a hint of League of Gentlemen (a formative influence for Gledhill, in particular), as well as flashes of double comedies across time: the Mighty Boosh, Vic and Bob, Morecambe and Wise, Abbott and Costello. They mix weird horror with huge laughs and strong storytelling, and while the hot dog outfit is long gone, they’re never without a ridiculous accessory. The pair met through Cantrill’s girlfriend, now wife, Nicola. Cantrill had a digital marketing job in London and started doing stand-up as an escape. Gledhill was in Leeds doing odd jobs and doing sketches with Nicola who one evening invited Cantrill to watch.

An absolute banger… The Delightful Sausage.

“I remember you looked like…” Gledhill pauses to laugh, “…a young Tory in a button-down shirt. I remember thinking, ‘He looks nice, but I can’t imagine him being funny.’ Still, when Gledhill finally saw Cantrill perform, he was hilarious. “I had to tell Nicola, ‘I’m really sorry, I think your boyfriend is my favorite comedian.’ He was also impressed with Gledhill’s comedy. “She used to do this crazy thing like the birth of a Jesus turnip,” he says.

They moved to Manchester around the same time, then Nicola got pregnant and quit acting. “So me and Amy started something. Saying it out loud doesn’t sound right,” Cantrill says of their origin story. “I don’t think I’m doing well in this either, Chris,” adds Gledhill. “‘You are pregnant? All right, what does your husband do? »

Imminent fatherhood forced Cantrill to take his acting career seriously. The Delightful Sausage’s first show was an internet safety presentation simulation that saw the couple get sucked into the dark web. But their comedic experiments weren’t always appreciated. At a gig in Cardiff, a crowd of lads turned against them. “We had to run from the pub to my car and lock the doors,” says Gledhill. “I don’t think it was worth the £50!” At another, they played for 30 minutes to a silent crowd. In desperation, Cantrill started doing push-ups. “Legend has it that I made a thousand,” he says. “Write that!”

They have now perfected their number: atmospheric and stylized comedies featuring their alter egos on stage, who have a codependent but loving friendship. “We found out very delicately exactly what each other’s faults are, and then we corrected them. Sometimes we write and say, ‘Chris is going to be really neurotic about this – sorry, the character Chris, the character,” says Gledhill. “There is no ego. I think that’s why our double act lasted so long.

Amy (the character) is “street smart, emotionally intelligent, but chaotic, lazy, and sexually driven. An absolute mud bath,” says Gledhill. Chris, on the other hand, is “uptight, ambitious, conceited. We decided early on that Chris’ personality would be very centrist. We like the idea that his hero is Tony Blair. You don’t see a lot of characters that are right in the middle, but it’s so ripe for comedy. Chris drives the narrative with his plans. “He’s a man of action, but all of his actions are stupid,” Cantrill says.

On their 2022 show, Nowt But Sea, Chris’ thirst for fame gets into trouble when he drags Amy to a remote island at the invitation of “an elite celebrity agent who promises to change our fortunes”. Cantrill explains. The hilarious and creepy agent, played by comedian Paul Dunphy, tries to drive a wedge between the friends. As with their past work, it is inspired by real events. Ginster’s Paradise explored the tension that arose when Gledhill began pursuing his solo career. This time it was an existential question about the future of Delightful Sausage.

During the lockdown, Cantrill and her family moved to Hadrian’s Wall to support her in-laws, whose guest accommodation business was suffering from pandemic restrictions. Meanwhile, Amy had just started a relationship with a London-based comedian and chose to move south. They feared that the separation would destroy the sausage. In fact, they think it made them more focused and they set aside a lot of time to write and rehearse. But another problem remained.

Meat and salvation… The delicious sausage on the outskirts of Edinburgh in 2019. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian

“We never make money from this and it takes so long that there was a point where it was like, are we doing the right thing?” Gledhill said. “You have to trust that everything will pay off. None of us have huge confidence in what we’re doing. An answer to that may have come when Nowt But Sea was nominated for this year’s Edinburgh Comedy Awards, as well as Gledhill’s Solo Show.

This time it was Cantrill’s turn to think he had been tricked. “My friend is very good and has a great show, so when she said, ‘We got nominated,’ I went, ‘Brilliant love, you deserve it. And she said, ‘No! Well, I have yes, but we have been nominated!’ Then we had to keep it a secret, but we were both crying on the street.

People may be surprised, I think, to learn that they are still blinded by their own success. “I often tell Amy that it took us being nominated for the highest honor in the country to have the same level of confidence as a freshman Cambridge Footlights sketch troupe,” says Cantrill. “Anxiety and impostor syndrome propelled us forward.”

After Ginster, they created the excellent podcast Tiredness Kills, appeared on Alma’s Not Normal and got their own BBC Radio special. Recently they have appeared in The Emily Atack Show, Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared and their own Late Night Mash spin-off, a miniseries called Great Britain: Wide Open and Ready, described by Cantrill as “a a travelogue across the country, through the prism of the shitty, horrible and curdled of a place that Britain is”. There’s even more going on behind the scenes as they prepare for their biggest live show yet: a panto comedy. “We are thinking about musicians, dancers, comedians, really go out there and see how much money we can lose!” Gledhill laughs.

Before the pandemic, he sometimes felt like northern comedians were overlooked by TV gatekeepers. Now virtual meetings and the rise of online comedy are changing things, says Gledhill, while Cantrill believes shows such as Derry Girls have encouraged curators to look beyond London. “People now want ‘authentic voices from the regions’. It shouldn’t seem risky to mandate someone from a regional location. In fact, he says, it could be a lot more interesting.

The Big Dream has always been a TV series — “the sitcom Sausage,” says Gledhill. “Because it’s the thing we want the most, we have to be the most careful with it. We don’t want to rush. Next year we will refine this idea and then hopefully sell it for millions. Or, if it’s true for us, we won’t get anything out of it, but it will be a great time.”

Nowt But Sea is at the Soho Theatre, London, 21-November 26.

. Delightful Sausage syndrome the impostor we propelled to washing comedy

. Delightful Sausage Imposter syndrome propelled

NEXT Dani Dyer reunites with ex Sammy Kimmence as he spends the day with their son after his release from prison