> Interview: Tom Lenk and Tommy Hobson (30 Minute Musicals: Top Gun) why Topgun is so ripe for parody and playing that volleyball scene so very, very hard - SNACK: Music, film, arts and culture magazine for Scotland

Interview: Tom Lenk and Tommy Hobson (30 Minute Musicals: Top Gun) why Topgun is so ripe for parody and playing that volleyball scene so very, very hard

Critically acclaimed comedy troupe 30 Minute Musicals has been entertaining Hollywood audiences since 2011. After a successful debut in 2019, 30MM returns to Edinburgh Fringe Festival with a limited run of fan favourite, Top Gun.

Relive the joy of this unintentionally camp classic in 30 minutes – parodied and musicalized. These fighter pilots fly high and burn slow in the sky, the steamy locker room, and on a hot, sweaty beach with a sexy game of beach volleyball. The team bringing Top Gun to life includes a talented mix of Los Angeles based actors, including Nickelodeon star Thomas (aka Tommy) Hobson and Fringe darling Tom Lenk.

Last August, Lenk starred in the hilarious Lottie Patchett Took a Hatchet, inspired by axe-murderer Lizzie Borden. However, you may also recognise him from a little show called Buffy the Vampire Slayer, his turn in the wonderfully surreal play Tilda Swinton Answers an Ad on Craigslist, or the cult status he enjoys recreating DIY red carpet LEWKS for his legion of online followers. He makes his triumphant return to Edinburgh alongside Hobson to parody the quintessential homoerotic 80s classic.


Photo Credit: Matthew Denman

The title may be a giveaway, but for those unfamiliar with the 30 Minute Musicals setup, what is the premise of your new show?

Tommy Hobson: We give you all of the best plot points of your favourite movies, in 30 minutes (a little more with the laughter), and we really try to stay as close to the original movie as possible. We truly mine the original screenplays and onscreen performances for maximum accuracy and comedy!

This may feel like a redundant question, but why do you feel Top Gun is so ripe for parody?

Tommy: Top Gun is a movie that takes itself so seriously, but is actually comedic and light-hearted in wonderful ways. It’s oddly a buddy comedy with some war and chaos sprinkled in. Plus, it might, accidentally, be one of the gayest movies ever made. The homoerotic tension between these men is palpable.

Tom Lenk: Tom Cruise gets into his underwear SO MANY TIMES in this movie! And the shower scenes! Also, the famous non-chemistry between Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis really adds to the gay over/undertones, and we really lean into that (speaking of leaning in, Kelly McGillis is leaning up against things throughout most of the movie, in order to hide the fact that she is taller than Tom Cruise, it is WILD!)

Were you drawn to work together because you share the same name or were there more concrete factors that led to your collaboration?

Tommy: Sharing a name makes things super fun because I always have some kind of reaction when someone says ‘Tom,’ but honestly, I just love Tom Lenk. Genuinely one of the most hilarious human beings on the planet and the characters he creates always blow my mind. I’ve definitely hoped to become better just by osmosis.

Tom: In this circle of friends, he’s Tommy and I am Tom which weirdly seem like completely different names? T.H. is so funny and I love creating THE WORST onstage chemistry with him. It is very hard not to fall apart into fits of laughter every night while I’m staring at him with my half-asleep Kelly McGillis eyes. Side note, I would like to propose a TH x TL comedy vehicle called ‘Too Much Tom on my Hands.’


Photo Credit: Matthew Denman

Has Tom Cruise personally reached out to either of you yet for either a seal of approval or to express interest in becoming an active part of the production?

Tommy: Ha! Not yet, but last year we had an audience member who worked closely on Top Gun: Maverick and she said that the cast, Tom included, would love what we’ve done with it. She tried to get the new cast members to come to the show, but they were on the press junket still.

Tom: WHAT?! I had no idea! Kelly McGillis played my friend’s mom on iZombie so we are so close to almost getting to them. I hope Tom Cruise shows up in aviators, sitting quietly in the back row and laughs loudly once, then mysteriously exits before the curtain call, and we run out looking for him and all we find are the aviator sunglasses on the pavement and a note that says, ‘No points for second place, and you came in first.’

How has the development of Top Gun compared to your experience of Lottie Patchett last year?

Tom: It is so much easier to get people interested in this show, as Lottie was referencing Lizzie Borden, which turns out is not in the public consciousness of the UK, whereas everyone has heard of Top Gun.

Tom, how was the process of saying goodbye to Lottie? Does she still haunt you?

Tom: She doesn’t haunt me, but her little brother’s puppet body is draped in my closet and startles me every time I open the door!

What are the challenges of recreating such an iconic movie in 30 minutes, not to mention making it a musical?

Tommy: Our writer, director, and choreographer, Brooke Seguin’s mind is a magical place. The hardest part is just watching these movies repeatedly and figuring out where the comedy is… what is important for plot, etc… and then where the songs go!

How can we expect the volleyball scene to be adapted for the stage?

Tommy: Oh, the infamous volleyball scene… Without giving too much away, we volleyball pretty damn hard! It’s one of my favourite things in the show… and yes, we’re all shirtless.

Tom: It’s volleyball but through song and dance… Think West Side Story meets Muppet Treasure Island. Additionally, a tho-tho-tho-tho-thong does make a brief appearance.

What titles are you dying to musicalise next?

Tommy: We’ve done so many of my favourite movies already, but I think it’s time for the Top Gun/ Top Gun: Maverick double feature. 60 minutes of Top Gun goodness!

Tom: Call Me By Your Name or the 2015 Cate Blanchett vehicle Carol? AM I OKAY?!


30 Minute Musicals: Top Gun is at Assembly Checkpoint, 2nd till 14th August. Tickets here.

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