Comedians Charlie Dinkin and Zoë Tomalin created their comedy-horror podcast SeanceCast last year, featuring sketches from new and emerging female and non-binary comedy writers. The ten-episode series was just nominated for the 2021 BBC Audio Drama Awards under Best Scripted Comedy (Sketch Show). The show sees Charlie and Zoë conducting seances at locations in order to gather scenes from The Beyond.
The show draws on the writing talent of Catherine Brinkworth, Tasha Dhanraj, Jen Ives, Athena Kugblenu, Shelf (Ruby Clyde & Rachel Watkeys Dowie), Heidi Regan, Emerald Paston, Charlie V Martin, Siân Docksey, Atlanta Green, Jain Edwards, Georgia Wagstaff and Kate Hinksman. The cast includes Kiell Smith-Bynoe, Nimisha Odedra, Amy Gledhill, Alison Thea-Skot, Kathryn Bond, Toussaint Douglas. Funny Women editor Kate Stone summoned Charlie and Zoë for a little Q&A.
Kate Stone: How did you two come up with SeanceCast?
Charlie Dinkin: We’re both topical gag writers and we got chatting after working on a show together last year. We needed a break from the unrelenting horror of the news, so we thought: let’s invent some horror of our own.
Zoë Tomalin: We knew we wanted to make a sketch show which featured new writers, so we needed a format that could showcase lots of different voices. A seance was the natural conclusion. To get your voice on a seance you don’t even need to be alive.
CD: As for how we came up with the characters of Charlie and Zoë… that’s a secret we’ll never reveal.
KS: Why was it important to you that the sketches in SeanceCast were written by women and non-binary comedy writers?
ZT: Well, firstly, they are simply the best new writers working today. As people running all-male writing rooms often like to say: it’s a meritocracy.
CD: Comedy writing is still overwhelmingly male and there’s no reason it should be, because there’s so much talent out there. We wanted to make sure the show gave opportunities to writers who might have been overlooked so far. Also, we think it’s important that women and non-binary people have a space to be weird, and – oh boy – is SeanceCast that space.
KS: Pop culture seems very drawn to young women experimenting with the occult (I’m basing this purely on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Craft but I believe the point stands), having created SeanceCast as a women and non-binary project, do you have any insight to offer on this?
ZT: I think it’s about female power and sexuality. The witch is powerful because she can use magic to manipulate reality, but also because she doesn’t care about conforming to expectations of womanhood. She can be grotesque, or sexual, or childless, or mash a baby up to make a flying ointment… am I selling the podcast?
CD: You’re doing great.
ZT: I wanted to be a witch when I was a kid because, like in those TV examples, the witch was a visibly powerful, independent woman. In primary school I actually got in huge trouble with someone’s mum after I convinced her daughter that “real witches don’t brush their hair”.
CD: So basically, in 2021, we are all witches.
KS: The first series of Seancecast ended last year, are there plans for another?
ZT: We’d love to. We’ve had a great audience response and we were nominated for a BBC Audio Drama Award, so watch this space.
CD: And we’ve already sacrificed a goat to try and get a second series. If that doesn’t work, Zoë’s next.
ZT: Wait, what?
KS: And lastly, who are your favourite funny women?
CD: All our writers. Follow them on Twitter, hire them for your writers’ room, and most of all, do not cross them. They’ll turn you into a frog.
ZT: I was going to say Charlie but I see how it is… No, it’s fine. I’m fine.
SeanceCast is available on Acast, iTunes and Spotify Podcast.