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Interview with Playface Founders, Charlie and Viki (Part One)

During their recent visit to Brighton to perform their improv comedy show, Kerfuffle – one of the standout shows of this year’s Brighton Fringe festival – the show’s creators, Charlie and Viki Jackson, also took part in our annual body positivity beach shoot, followed by a sit-down interview over breakfast at Brighton Marina! In part one of our write-up, we’re discussing the pair’s beginnings as comedians, potential body image issues that performers face, the creation of Playface, their participation in World Naked Gardening Day, and more!

Playface Founders, Charlie and Viki Jackson, wearing hats and posing naked on Brighton beach

Britain Uncovered: Hi both! Thank you for joining us for our photoshoot today, which we’ll be touching on a little later in our conversation! To start with though Viki, I was intrigued to see that you previously worked in PR and advertising, before ultimately creating Playface – an alternative comedy and mindfulness school which you and Charlie both launched a little while back. What first prompted this change in career path, and how did you first get started as performers?


Viki: So it was actually Charlie who got started in improv first, and I ended up getting involved a little while later.


Charlie: My first course was back in January 2015. I was running my own tech start-up at the time, but I was finding it really difficult. I was doing the whole London networking scene and going to all sorts of events, because there are so many great entrepreneurship events in London. And there was one in particular called ‘Fuck Up Nights’, where entrepreneurs would talk about the biggest fuck-ups they’ve made, so that everyone could help learn from those. And two of the speakers that night just so happened to talk about the benefits of improv comedy as it pertains to public speaking.


I’d never done drama or anything at school, or any kind of performing, but I thought it sounded interesting – and because I wanted to be better at public speaking, I signed up for the class. And pretty much immediately I realised that it was one of the most amazing things I had ever done. Improv is so welcoming, supporting and creative, and just so different to anything I’d done – where previously, all my creativity had either been visual or tech-related. I’d never performed before at all, and it unlocked a whole world of joy.

The cast of Kerfuffle handing out flyers in Brighton ahead of their Brighton Fringe shows in May 2024
Charlie and Viki with the cast of Kerfuffle - Playface's improv house team - ahead of their recent shows in Brighton

BU: So once Charlie found his footing in the world of improv, how long did it take for you to get involved Viki – and what had you been up to around this time while Charlie was dipping his toes in the improv comedy waters?


Viki: It took me a year. I was figuring out what to do with my art degree. My course was very much geared towards, ‘You will go and paint in a studio’, but this didn’t appeal and I was left wondering what other jobs I could do.

So I was trying to figure that out, and that’s how I found advertising and I got my first job doing social media. I was having to talk at office meetings and pitch new clients, and I was petrified. Charlie was telling me how great improv was so I decided to give it a go, and it made me start coming out of my shell a bit more.

I didn’t like drama at school and typically helped out backstage at shows, rather than being up on stage – because although I was quite loud and silly and within my friendship groups, I was actually really shy outside of them. Now I'm pretty loud in front of anyone!

So that’s how I started, and it was really surreal during the first improv session. We were running around playing games like musical chairs and grandmother’s footsteps, and I just remember thinking, “What are we doing”?

Playface Founders, Charlie and Viki Jackson, posing naked in the sea during a skinny-dip on Brighton beach
Charlie and Viki bared all on Brighton beach for Britain Uncovered's fifth annual beach photoshoot

BU: Things clearly snowballed from this point onwards, and your combined experience as performers ultimately led to the creation of Playface, through which you provide alt comedy and clowning courses. At what point did Playface open its doors for business, and was this a natural evolution of what you were doing and how committed you were to your new careers? How did it all come to be?


Viki: Playface started back in February 2023, so it’s still relatively new. Before that, Charlie was teaching improv at one of the improv schools in London, but I knew I didn’t want to do advertising anymore, and I think that came about as a result of the pandemic and feeling more freedom, combined with the stress and pressures that were getting put on me through the job I had.


So I started wondering just what else there is. I was actually on a retreat in Mexico when I thought, “I want to host people and I want to help people.”


Charlie: We’ve always put on events, like our wood party which is a festival in the woods. This is our fourteenth year doing it, and we transform a woodland area into this magical wonderland. We get all these decorations and art installations and then bring up to 100 people along. It’s not a public event and it's just our own private thing, but we spend the whole night there and one or two weeks setting up for it.


Looking back, we’ve always hosted people while we were growing up, which fits into what Viki was saying about loving to host people. We’ve got some soft plans to start transforming our wood parties potentially into a comedy festival now that we’ve started Playface. We can take our skills and build this magical wonderland, along with our community of comedians, and merge the two together into a really fun and unique offering. But it’s only soft plans.

Playface Founders, Charlie and Viki Jackson, posing naked on Brighton's Black Rock naturist beach in May 2024
Upon donning these wizard cloaks during our photoshoot, the duo instantly felt a sense of fun and playfulness

BU: Several performers we’ve interviewed in the past have spoken of the pressures of being up on stage on a regular basis – specifically as it relates to body image. Do you feel as though performers are self-conscious or have heightened self-awareness about how they’re being perceived physically; and if so, is this something you’ve ever had to work to overcome?


Viki: Being up on stage feels like second nature now. But yes, I think there was a point when I started doing a lot of improv shows, and because the stages are higher and I hate my neck and double chin, I’d see the photos afterwards and think, “That’s so gross”, and, “Do I actually look like that in real life” – and that was hard.


Also, and I don’t know if I did this on purpose, but I realised I pull really stupid faces while I’m doing improv, so I just started posting all these faces on my Instagram stories, as I just found that entertaining. Due to the amount of shows we do, I think it’s now become, “Oh shit we’ve got a gig later, let’s go”, rather than stressing or over-thinking a show coming up in a week’s time. So it just becomes easier, and I think the costumes and the ‘weird and wacky’ helps too.


I’ve also been a lot more confident in my body for the last couple of years since I’ve stopped drinking, and I have also done a lot more exercise because that makes me happy (which is the main reason I do it, as opposed to feeling the need to train).

The promotional image used for Kerfuffle - Scenes From a Hat during the 2024 Brighton Fringe Festival
Kerfuffle was recently performed at Brighton Fringe

Charlie: For me, being up on stage first felt fun and great and easy, and body image didn’t come into it originally, because when you’re improvising there’s so much going on in your head – so in the moment, there’s very little time to consider that.


In those early days, there wasn’t much time to think about body image before or during – it would mainly be anything that came after. And afterwards, I think issues of body image would only ever come to me the more photos were taken. And it would be similar to what Viki mentioned. We’ve got a collection of stage shots, so there were promos for our two-person show and things like that, and when I look back at when we were first performing together, in these images I feel like a different person from a body standpoint. I don’t really like the way I look in a lot of these, and I much prefer myself now. But also my stance is way less confident.


Viki: There have been times when I’ve been on stage and I’ve thought, “Oh, I need to make sure I stand up straight” (if I’m hunching over), and then there’s been times where I’ve been on stage and I know Charlie will be taking photos from the back, and so maybe I’ll move or I’ll stand a bit straighter – that kind of thing.


Charlie: And the more serious we’ve got into comedy, and the more we use all this material for marketing purposes, the more that’s become a consideration for me. In the early days we didn’t have many photos, and we certainly didn’t have any videos doing any of this kind of stuff.

But especially since we started getting into clown comedy in 2018-19, we're starting to use costumes and props and things that are visually really interesting and really fun to look at; but in some ways I have much less consideration for body issues when I’m doing clown stuff, because it’s much more costume-based. You’re essentially hiding in a costume and you’re choosing your own costume, so you’re choosing the way you want to be dressing and choosing what you want to feel comfortable in.

Playface Founders, Charlie and Viki Jackson, posing naked in the sea with Brighton Palace Pier and the Brighton i360 in the distance
Charlie says that shocking people, even if it’s not necessarily for laughs, generally makes for pleasing reactions

BU: Can ‘becoming a character’ like this transform you and take you away from who you are in real life, almost? Is there an escapism element to all of this as well, and if so, is that an element of the job you enjoy?


Charlie: This was one of the things I was most interested in bringing up today. Growing up, and looking back through our pictures, it’s clear that we love dressing up and pulling strange faces, and doing the thing that’s the opposite of trying to look beautiful or perfect. I was wondering how much of it is hiding through this character of being a silly person, which is a version of us. But I was curious if this is hiding who the real ‘us’ are? Or are the characters, the stupid faces and the costumes we put on enhancing a part of ourselves we already are?


When we’re teaching character comedy for the first time during workshops and improvising characters, we talk to people about how you play characters in life all the time: there’s the person you are at work, the person you are with your family and friends; the person you were 15 years ago; and the person you are today. All of these are slightly different. For some people they’re very similar characters, but for other people they’re wildly different. I think a good way for a lot of people to relate to this is to maybe think of those friends with whom you have very specific in-jokes, or how you might act in a certain way that is really not how you act in other parts of life – but you can still enjoy that and it doesn’t necessarily feel like it’s not you.


So I’m not necessarily sure there’s just one version of me, and that there’s one version of me playing all these other characters. I think each of these are just different aspects of me which are heightened depending on what I’m feeling at the time. Sometimes when I’m feeling more playful or stupid I’m that kind of Charlie, and sometimes when I’m feeling more intellectual or thoughtful, I get into ‘teacher mode’ Charlie.


To me it doesn’t feel like hiding through characters; it feels like these characters are all just enhancing different parts of ourselves that we’re feeling like in the moment. And there’s a lot of freedom that can come from that. There’s so much freedom in putting on this character or this persona and thinking, “I feel like being this version of myself today.” For me it gives me more license to play and to enjoy myself.

Comedian and performer, Viki Jackson, posing for World Naked Gardening Day 2024
Viki posing for World Naked Gardening Day 2024

BU: At the start of May Viki, you posted an image of yourself participating in World Naked Gardening Day – an online, international social media event that was started back in 2005. Having taken part in this initiative several times over the years, what was it that first appealed or prompted you to get involved, and what message is the event trying to send, in your opinion? Did you enjoy your mini-photoshoot for the creation of this year’s images?


Viki: I genuinely don’t know how I found it! But I think it was more the shock of just saying, “Let’s take our kit off and take some stupid photos.” Comedy always has a surprising aspect to it, and I really like pressing the buttons of how can we shock people.


We did the first World Naked Gardening Day photoshoot in Charlie’s Dad’s garden. He’d just bought a house with this prized allotment, and we were like, “Oh, we’ve got to go and do these photos.” And we pulled up and I think he had a workman there or something! We said to him, “Just don’t look around! We’re going to be over there, but just don’t look outside for a bit. I mean, you can if you want, but you probably don’t want to.” And I was stood there naked wearing my Dr. Martens, holding a spade and taking these photos.


And I think it just feels fun to do these things in different places, and to just see where we end up. It just feels fun to plan, and to work out how you’re going to get the shots in whatever location you’re in.


Charlie: There was also one of you on the sit-on lawnmower, where you were naked and just driving the lawnmower past!


Viki: And then our London garden, which is massively overlooked, which was hilarious. And Charlie’s Mum’s place was used for the recent shoot.

Comedian and performer, Charlie Jackson, posing for World Naked Gardening Day 2022
Charlie posing for the Gardening Day back in 2022

Charlie: I think what you touched on with the whole ‘being shocking’ kind of thing is one of the things that drew us to that event and many other things. I feel like throughout most of our lives, things that have shocked people – for me, anyway – have been really interesting, and I really like doing things where people say, “I can’t believe you just did that. I can’t believe you just got naked and screamed and ran out of a Chinese restaurant in Berlin.”

Which did happen when I was 18. That was random. That wasn’t a drunk story or anything, I was just feeling really silly, and we were touring around Europe and I just did it because it was a weird and funny thing to do.


And I think it does connect in with the comedy. It makes a lot of sense now that we’ve found comedy, because comedy has to be surprising. It has to be surprising to be funny, and that’s why we laugh sometimes when we’re scared, or when there’s something shocking. And you have this laugh release, because they’re very similar emotions. I think shocking and surprising people, even if it’s not necessarily for laughs – but because people might react like, “Woah, I can’t believe this person’s like that” – is a reaction that Viki and I have always found really pleasing.


BU: Is there an element of pushing boundaries within yourselves as well? Although acts like these would shock others, are you also challenging yourselves and pushing outside of your comfort zones to see if these are things you can do maybe? Or did you know that this was something you’d be comfortable with?


Viki: I think that was maybe more so the case years ago, but now I’m just like, “Yeah, fuck it’s, let’s do this thing.” And I do wonder where that change in mindset came from. This is probably not it, but I got hypnotised against my fear of spiders, and I feel like that 100% changed my life, my heart rate, everything. Because I would know if there was one in the room and I’d be watching it. And my theory is something changed in me where I just now think, “Oh if you can do that you’re fine, you can crack on and do whatever, or just give it a go and see what happens and fail. If you’re going to fail, then fail.”


But I think that the seed was maybe planted there, and that’s then developed over the years.

Playface Founders, Charlie and Viki Jackson, naked in the sea during a sunrise photoshoot on Brighton beach
In part two, Charlie and Viki reflect on their naked dip and share further perspectives on social nudity experiences

* * *


– Our conversation with Charlie and Viki took place over breakfast and coffee at the Brighton Marina on May 11, 2024 – just several hours before the duo’s ensemble performance of Kerfuffle at Presuming Ed’s in the city centre.


The images sprinkled across this two-part feature were captured shortly after sunrise at Black Rock Beach, Britain’s first official nudist beach which opened back in 1980. Serving as our website’s fifth annual beach shoot, the images seek to normalise nudity and to portray the body in a natural, joyful and desexualised light. A big heartfelt thanks to Charlie and Viki for their participation throughout the morning, and for their willingness to help further the body positivity movement. We're sure you'll agree that it's resulted in one of Britain Uncovered's finest collabs to date.

The official logo of Playface, a community created by Charlie and Viki Jackson in 2023

For more about Playface, London’s most playful comedy company which provides a unique blend of alternative comedy, clowning classes, mindfulness workshops and shows, please visit or visit their Instagram, Facebook or X channels.


You can also learn more about Charlie and Viki’s other creative endeavours by heading over to their respective Linktree profiles – click here for Charlie’s, and here for Viki’s. And lastly, stay tuned for part two of our interview, which will be coming up on the site in the very near future!



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