The Thinking Drinkers are Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham, a pair of alcohol connoisseurs and writers who have made it their mission to impart their knowledge onto audiences in the most entertaining ways possible. The Thinking Drinkers’ latest show, Around The World in 80 Drinks, is set to be a truly unique comedy experience; combining comedy and alcohol is surely a match made in heaven?
To learn more about the men behind the show, I asked Ben and Tom these seven questions…
1) What is your favourite thing about your 2016 show?
We give out five free drinks. These are alcoholic drinks. They are delicious alcoholic drinks. And every audience member gets to enjoy a sip of all five. This is not a joke; it would a be a bad joke if it was. The drinks include Jameson Irish whiskey, Bulleit American whiskey (the Scots wouldn’t give us any), Meantime beer (which we brewed ourselves),Plymouth gin and Diplomatico rum, perhaps the best rum in the world. The best thing is that we talk about them and the audience actually tastes them while we do. There is also some partial nudity, which may or may not be seen as ‘favourite’ for anyone else but we enjoy taking our clothes off.
2) Do you have a loud family?
Yes indeed, we both have wives and kids under the age of two. This makes for very loud families, with lots of people telling us what to do. As a result we have engineered a month away in Edinburgh every year under the guise of ‘work’.
3) What did you fear when you were younger?
The laughter stopping. Frankly, even if people are laughing out of pity, it’s still a noise we like and from a very early age we have really needed this noise as validation for our being. When it stops it is a very lonely place. Tom doesn’t like people touching his belly button, which was really challenging when he recently had a camera forced through it for a hernia operation. Ben doesn’t like heights, which has made reaching the dizzy heights of stardom with this incredible show so difficult for him to cope with.
4) Do you think we are born with any certain knowledge?
With new babies in our lives we can certainly attest to the fact that we are born with nothing other than a demand to drink, which makes our show incredibly pertinent. The show is, after all, about how we drink, specifically around the world and with that we celebrate the value of alcohol if we treat it with a respect. Granted breast milk is not alcoholic, but interestingly the Aztecs worshipped Mayahuel, the goddess of fertility, a woman who have 400 breasts, and it was their belief that from these breasts she bestowed upon them pulque, a ‘milk’ that was actually alcoholic. Mayahuel was represented in their daily lives by the agave plant, which they baked before fermenting the juice, and this became their pulque. They drank this so they could get closer to their gods. When the Spanish arrived they used their distilling knowledge to turn pulque into mezcal wine, and this became tequila. So really, when you think about it, you could say our innate demand for breast milk when we are born is actually knowledge that, when we turn 18, we will want tequila.
5) Which of the seven deadly sins are you most guilty of?
Despite watching the excellent Seven some years ago, we find ourselves unable to name the 7, making it impossible to answer this fairly. When we come to Edinburgh, despite the advice, we eat very badly, so gluttony should be in there.
6) What do you want your audiences to take away from your shows?
Their dignity. And a love and respect of discerning drinking. Our motto is ‘drink less, drink better’ and we firmly believe that if you are a bit more thoughtful in your drinking lives you can enjoy some incredible booze and not let it ruin everything else.
7) What’s the plan?
The plan is to not die on stage and to come away from Edinburgh with some money in our pockets. Beyond that, there can be no plan. Obviously in a year or so we see ourselves in Hollywood having established a TV vehicle more powerful and less racist than Top Gear. Our noisy families will be able to visit us there intermittently and we will have discerning drinks brought to us poolside. The world will understand that if you respect alcohol it will respect you back, the temperance movement will become obsolete.