Lockdown lip sync and the guilty pleasure of peering into other people’s houses: comedian Rachel Parris explains her top five small moments of joy this year.
When Rachel Parris started playing about with lip-synching under lockdown earlier this year, she could not have predicted the viral sensation to come.
But dozens of clips later – including pitch-perfect tributes to Celine Dion, Joan Jett and Jarvis Cocker – and Parris and her husband, fellow comedian Marcus Brigstocke, have sparked a worldwide trend with their hilarious and highly addictive lockdown lip sync series.
“It just started the way that you do when you’re messing around in your house,” The Mash Report star tells the Stylist Live @ Home festival, in conversation with Stylist editor-in-chief, Lisa Smosarski this weekend. “We weren’t going to film it initially, we just do like singing along to songs.”
Happily, however, the duo decided to share their brilliant efforts on Twitter; and the reception was nothing short of euphoric.
Soon enough, Parris was posting her odes to pop and rock’s greatest every day, as people from all over the world – including couples, families, and those living alone in isolation – rushed to showcase their own versions of #lockdownlipsync.
The couple found themselves as unexpected heroes of the lockdown era, providing light entertainment in the darkest of times.
“It was such a nice thing that I didn’t see coming and it was just joyful,” says Parris now, looking back at the global wave of appreciation that greeted lockdown lip sync.
Here’s more on the birth of a fun-loving 2020 highlight, as well as four other small moments of joy that Parris rooted out this year – as told to Stylist Live:
1. Hilarious lockdown lip syncs
The downside of lockdown for Parris was that – like many people – it put her and Brigstocke’s careers on ice; both are comedians, and so all their live gigs and events were nixed for the foreseeable.
The upside is that the pair had access to an enormous costume box of elaborate get-ups, along with a full repertoire of props, lighting and high-level creative expression at their fingertips.
“It was so fun to do […] you start to take it so seriously,” Parris says, of their sketches. “Each one took about three takes. And you’re just doing it as deadly serious as if you were on Newsnight.”
She jokes that they were saying to one another, “Right no… sorry, go back – you missed a word. Don’t look at the camera there. Don’t forget the twist, and a shaft of light just came in so we’ve got to start again.”
The results, of course, were well worth the sweat. “People like it so much,” Parris says, noting that the couple decided to roll with the momentum. “They liked it better than a lot of the carefully curated satire that we do.”
2. Close-knit online communities
Another unexpected joy of this year for Parris has been the evolution of online gigs; something many people on the comedy scene were resistant to, to begin with.
“I’ve spoken to a lot of comedian friends who were like, ‘No, that’s not for me’. As if it was for anyone,” she says, quipping, “My comedy really suits being over a laptop actually. I prefer not to see the audience.”
Some comedians, however, were quick off the mark to react to captive online audiences, including The Covid Arms, starring Kiri Pritchard-McLean, and James Gill’s Always Be Comedy – a venture that Parris and Brigstocke joined back in March, with a regular virtual slot.
“We get a regular 150 people and it’s become such a tight-knit little community,” says Parris, of their Tuesday Night Club show. “There’s a lot of returning audience and we really get to know each other; and they get to know us so well.
“It’s become such a good example of what comedy can bring, which is not just laughing and fun but also unity.”
3. Wondrous walking
Good old walking has proved a huge highlight for Parris and her family under lockdown; not least because of the potential for vicarious house-spying that it brings in her corner of south-west London.
“For us, one coping strategy is walking a helluva lot, every day,” the presenter says. “Just walking from our house, sometimes in the middle of the street, because there was no traffic initially. And spying on people’s houses.
“If you live in the Balham area, I have looked into your house,” she jokes. “Even actually Tooting, Clapham, Stockwell… we are peering in. We don’t take binoculars but we do look very hard.”
4. Must-watch TV
Like so many others, Parris has found a renewed appreciation for the small screen in an era of Covid-19.
“Television has taken on a genuinely important role,” she says. “The series you get into become quite an emotional thing to hook yourself into […] Because so much else in life has been cancelled, you can’t rely on it, big series become such an important appointment. It’s something to really look forward to, and there’s something a bit grounding about it.
5. Small-scale style statements
And last but not least, Parris has landed on a few great impromptu style fixes in 2020. Cute socks would probably count as one (above) but another is, obviously, the facemask; which as Parris explains can be “lightweight or jazzy” and (like all the best fashion), “changes with the seasons”.
“I still wear the jazzy one when I’m feeling frisky,” Parris jokes. “When I’m feeling a bit saucy, I put on the jazzy one […] mine has got literally a ribbon on it and I was wearing it just with the ribbon going all the way up here [gestures around her head] over my pom-pom on my hat. And I thought, ‘I look mad’. You can tell a lot from someone from their mask-wearing.”
Want to watch more of Rachel Parris’ brilliant chat, including her views on emergency arts funding and the government handling of coronavirus? Tune into her slot, along with a trove of motivational talks, at the Stylist Live @ Home festival running all this weekend. Tickets are still available for £15, and you can watch the entire show on catch-up at a time that suits you, at any point up to 29 November. Stylist Live @ Home guests will also get first access to discounts across our curated shopping collections courtesy of The Drop. All tickets include a £1 donation to Women for Women International.