With their well-crafted songs and quirky charm, Flo and Joan are a pair of comedians who have come to prominence in recent months, due to their appearance in adverts for Nationwide. What many may not know is that the pair have been crafting their music and comedy stylings for years, prior to becoming faces known across the country. Their crossover brand of music-comedy is often topical, always weird in the best way, and for the most part, guaranteed to have you chuckling from start to finish. As with many comedy acts, Flo and Joan are currently in the process of crafting the perfect Edinburgh Fringe set, ahead of a solid month of shows at what is, likely, the world’s premier comedy festival. Jamie Walker caught up with the ladies behind Flo and Joan to discuss the ads, their comedy and Edinburgh.

Edinburgh previews season is once again upon us. After the success you had last year, how excited are you to get back to the Fringe?

We’re very excited! It’s just a fun month. I mean, is it also stressful? For sure. Do we get unreasonably angry at dragging a piano up cobbled hills in the rain every day? Embarrassingly so. Is our show totally ready yet and should you ask us this question in a month’s time? Mmm-hmm sure cool, no maybe?

You’ve got a warm-up show in Brighton at the Komedia. How important are those shows in gauging how your content will be perceived?

We’re based in London, and that’s mostly where we gig, so it’s important and fun to peddle our wares in other cities and towns and church halls and tents to see how, or if it plays at all…because sometimes it really doesn’t. And if that’s the case we take it apart and put it back together differently for the next location, and if we ever return we know what things do and don’t work, which makes for a more enjoyable time for everyone, wherever they have seen us assuming that it wasn’t such a car crash the first time that an audience would want to come back.

Have you ever played Brighton’s own Fringe? If so what did you make of it?

We haven’t ever played Brighton Fringe…we should get on that.

Tell us a bit about what your new show will entail?

Oh, well this year we have decided to leave our seats sometimes, that’s exciting. We’re normally pretty stagnant behind the piano and we thought we’d add some spice and intrigue by standing up a bit. And then of course there will be some topical songs and some weirder ones, a bit of light and dark, too many words that we can’t guarantee we will remember, a selection of classroom percussion. Something for everyone over the age of fourteen.

You sold out at the Fringe last year, does that put pressure on you to do that again or better last year’s show?

We try not to put that kind of pressure on ourselves, as it mostly isn’t helpful or productive and just makes us complete human nightmares to be around.

You’ve both also been starring in some very popular Nationwide adverts. How did that come about?

Nationwide had done a campaign with poets and for their new one were looking at using all kinds of musicians. So they gave everyone a theme and we wrote them a bunch of short demo songs, and they liked them, so we wrote them a few more on different themes, and they liked those too, so they picked out the ones they wanted and filmed us playing them and put them on the telly and other outlets. It was our first “job-job” as Flo & Joan, so it was a pretty fun one.

Have you noticed a growth in your fanbase, or even the opposite, since the ads came out?

I mean, it’s allowed more people to find us, for better or worse. We have lots of our own material online, so we’ve found new fans through that, which is great. And quite a few young people who will have to wait a decade or so before they can see us live.

I’ve been told the names Flo and Joan are family names, what made you choose those ones to live through?

We didn’t want to go by “Nicola & Rosie”, because that sounds very sad. And if we called ourselves something like “The Dempsey Sisters” it sort of gives off the vibe of girls in the 1920s who did a lot of cartwheels and plate spinning around each other in gingham, and Nicola can barely teddy bear roll. Our grandmother and her sister are called Flo and Joan, and it just had a nice ring to it so we checked in with Joan to make sure it was OK, and once it was given the go-ahead from her we kept it. It’s just the name of the duo though, rather than names we have adopted for ourselves; we don’t call each other Flo or Joan. It confuses a lot of people.

And how do your stage personas differ from your actually personalities? Where do Nicola and Rosie end and Flo & Joan begin, as it were.

Flo and Joan aren’t personas that we have, we’re not playing characters or anything, it’s literally just the name of the collective duo. Rosie is maybe a bit brighter than normal on a stage, and Nicola is a fraction darker, but for the most part we’re ourselves. Maybe we should have taken the opportunity to be other people…instead you just get our regular horrible personalities.

What can the Ed Fringe expect from Flo & Joan this summer?

Well we will personally be responsible for the spike in Meal Deal sales. Otherwise, within the show we address binge drinking and weddings, crisps and crackers, sex robots and sad dads. If you’ve seen us live before, it’ll be as good as that, but bigger and with more walking (for us. You can stay seated). If you’re coming because you like the adverts that’s amazing and we’re very glad, welcome and thank you…but do not expect an hour of nice songs about houses and our mum.