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Emeka Ene: The Marvellous Dorian Uncovered

David Harfield speaks to the man himself

Published on July 1st 2011.


Emeka Ene: The Marvellous Dorian Uncovered

AS one half of London-based comedy duo, The Marvelous Dorians, comedian, writer and poet, Emeka Ene, has achieved more accolades in the last two years than many of his peers can hope to garner in a decade. After writing and producing two hilarious shows, ‘Peggy Weight Champion of the World’ and ‘Bare Dollar’, performing them at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to a rapturous reception, being dubbed by British Vogue as ‘people set to define the generation,’ and winning a Time Out Critics Choice award, one may think that Emeka, and his partner in comedy Luke Courtenay-Smith, would be set in their path to become the next Mighty Boosh or Russell Brand. So why then, given all of this fledgling success, have they decided to quit comedy and go into the restaurant business?  London Confidential caught up with the ambitious jokesters to see what all of this wonderful weirdness is really about.

“The thing is, human beings have to perform three basic functions on a daily basis in order to stay alive: eat, sleep and defecate. Now, we don’t sleep or defecate in front of each other, at least not usually, but we are happy to eat in front of each other, which when you think about it is really weird.”

Clad in black leather from head to toe, and with an afro hairstyle so large that seems to have its own gravitational pull, Emeka Ene fits in as much as he stands out on the uber-cool Shoreditch scene of which he frequents on a daily basis; his style of kooky rock star, (or, as Luke puts it, “a pineapple-headed Lenny Henry”), ensures him second glances wherever he goes. On stage he can command a room with his furtive chuckles and eloquent diction, mixed with cockney swagger; off stage his persona remains very much the same, engaging you as if you are the only person in the room, discussing the most important thing in the world…even if the topic of conversation is actually his own bowel movements.

Small talk aside, we have to get to the bottom of all these restaurant shenanigans – what’s the big idea? 

We feel that we have achieved what we wanted to achieve with comedy and it’s been a fantastic ride; however, once you pigeon-hole yourself as just one thing, say ‘a comedian’, all of a sudden there are innate limitations set upon you. We could keep going on the circuit for another ten years and maybe get our own BBC3 series at the end of it, but even that’s not guaranteed.  The comedy restaurant concept is simply a way of broadening our horizons. 

So, without giving too much of your show away, how do you feel that comedy and eating complement each other? 

The thing is, human beings have to perform three basic functions on a daily basis in order to stay alive: eat, sleep and defecate. Now, we don’t sleep or defecate in front of each other, at least not usually, but we are happy to eat in front of each other, which when you think about it is really weird. More than just a comedy performance, A Dorians Dinner is a sociological study of people in an unnatural environment and how they react to certain situations. The amount of comedic material that lies in the food service industry, just waiting to be tapped into, is huge and I can’t work out why it hasn’t really been done properly since ‘Fawlty Towers’. This is why we have decided to put on A Dorians Dinner in a pop-up venue in Angel, where guests will enjoy a fine dining experience, combined with comedic performances throughout. 

 

The Marvellous Dorians, Luke Courtenay-Smith and Emeka EneThe Marvellous Dorians, Luke Courtenay-Smith and Emeka Ene

The idea of staging a restaurant in a pop-up venue is bang on trend, what with the current popularity of ‘secret supper clubs’ that are taking place all over the city, not to mention the incredibly successful Come Dine With Me, Channel 4’s dinner party programme. Combining this with guerilla comedy is an innovative move that few would dare to attempt; yet with The Marvelous Dorians, it all seems so natural. As a veteran of the service industry, Emeka has clearly been taking detailed notes on all of the characters that one finds in a restaurant; from the clumsy waiter to the angry chef, they’re all here to help or hinder the customers’ meals and there are bound to be more than a few surprises throughout the evening. So, is this just a one-off, or are there more Dorians Dinners planned?

We would love to repeat the Dinner on a regular basis; if we survive the first two nights, we could approach venues with a view to taking up a residency, perhaps making it a monthly event.

 

With the blessed combination of burning ambition and natural talent, it’s doubtful that Emeka will ever be short of venues willing to stage The Marvelous Dorians’ productions, no matter how weird or wacky they may be. Let’s just hope that he spares us ‘A Dorians Defecation’…

 

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Photographs by Sabrina Dallot-Seguro

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