What the frock!

“What The Frock! has become the UK's most significant nurturer of female talent, and has meant Bristol now gives female comedians a bigger slice of the action” – The Naked Guide To Bristol, 2015




When she walks in her manliest gait, Tessa Gaukroger is irresistible. Well – this is the way Marina O’Shea, her partner in crime, puts it to me.

I’m asking how the two of them first came to form their double act. Marina recalls seeing Tess her strut her manly stuff onstage (she was playing a man): “It was love at first sight.” This earned Tess her honorary ‘O’ and the rest, as they say, is history.

It’s still rather recent history – the pair have been together since September 2012, but they’ve clocked up quite a few comedy miles in that time. 


There’s an irrepressible exuberance about the two. Provoking people into having a good time seems to be their raison d’être – themselves included. Marina and Tess’ goal in life is to make each other laugh: onstage, if necessary – they don’t consider it a successful gig unless one of them has almost been brought to the brink of disaster. “We want to take the audience along with us,” says Tess, “if you’re not having a good time, chances are your audience won’t be either.”

For most of her childhood, Marina wanted to be a lion – she admits to spending a lot of time on all fours, mimicking the movements she saw on David Attenborough’s shows. Her big chance came at college, when the acting course required a Human Zoo performance piece. She spent four weeks priming as a chimp (lions were all taken), and when the time came for performance: “I flung bananas at my fellow primates… pushing them to crack up.”

The life that might have been forms the crux of much of their show – the road not taken, the careers they might have had if comedy hadn’t snatched them up. And if Tessa hadn’t had such a spellbinding swagger. The shadow of those alternative careers drive them along in more ways the one. “We do this because we are afraid of office jobs,” says Marina.