You’re about to star as one of seven brothers in Hollywood fantasy film Stardust. How come you ended up in such a big budget movie?
I came in at a late stage to fill Noel Fielding’s [The Mighty Boosh] gay shoes – the shoes, not him – when he pulled out due to illness. He was gutted, but he’d only have been in it for two seconds, as I was.
Didn’t your best line make the trailer but get cut from the film?
Yeah, which was really exciting as I’m obsessive about those things. My favourite is Bob Hoskins in the trailer for Who Framed Roger Rabbit? wearing a monkey suit and saying “Ooga booga”, which isn’t in the film.
Was it a laugh between takes?
All seven brothers would line up on seats and have a great time. I already knew Mark Heap and David Walliams, who are fucking funny, Rupert Everett’s a very entertaining raconteur and Jason Flemyng has amazing stories.
Was there any friction?
Me and Walliams tried some improvisation at one point, during which Rupert Everett was quite fucked off, understandably as he was under all this heavy prosthetic. He stood there going, “Come on, come on.” We said a couple of not-very-funny things and his reaction was, “Oh, ha, ha, ha. Is this what we’re waiting for? Brilliant.” He was a nice bloke really, though.
Your internet stuff’s caused quite a stir. How come you started the blog?
After The Adam And Joe Show, Joe Cornish and I tried to get commissioned doing similar stuff to what I’m doing now. But we were only offered presenting jobs. We’re always asked to do listings programmes too. They say, “Steven Spielberg’s doing it. It’s an important show.” ?So we did them, then realised they’d just taped one interview with Spielberg ages ago. We say “no” now and I make things to entertain myself instead.
Has your blog ever upset anyone?
Yeah, big people. One married TV producer got in touch and said I’d made it sound like he’d been going round fucking lots of people.
Do you get in trouble from your contemporaries?
People like Simon Pegg and David Walliams are too busy and it’d just never cross their minds. Recently I was on Never Mind The Buzzcocks and wrote that I’d been on before and Mark Lamarr had been a cock. Then I saw him at a gig and he came over to say hello. He was really nice, so I felt like a total two-faced twat.
Is it true there’s a gang of comedians that meets up for film screenings?
Edgar Wright [Hot Fuzz director] organises them and people like the Boosh, the League Of Gentlemen, Lucas and Walliams, and Chris Morris come along – he’s nice, but I wouldn’t want to ruin his mystique. Some are bitchier than others, but I can’t say who. Okay, Walliams, but he’s softened his edges these days.
Aren’t you putting your web stuff together for a TV show?
I’ve had a pilot commissioned for BBC3 called Meebox. It’s like a televised YouTube. I hardly watch TV any more so my frame of reference is the internet. There’ll be characters – played by comedians – video clips and music filmed as if through a bedroom webcam.
Isn’t it a bit back-to-front, doing web things on TV?
Maybe, but we’d also make a website with fake comments, pop-up ads, longer edits and extra clips. I’m still debating whether you will be able to interact as all that concept’s done is encourage rants and total bollocks.
So is your job just dicking around on the internet all day?
Sort of. It’s very difficult to stop being lazy. My wife’s got a proper job and has a hard time believing I do anything at all. When I say I can’t do something as I’m working she’ll say, “Work? You’re going to watch TV and listen to music.” But bollocking about is the only thing that yields anything of any value. Bands dry up after two albums because they don’t get time to be dicks any more.
Do you think Will Ferrell ripped off your child sketch for his website?
Someone described it to me, but it didn’t sound the same. I doubt he’s seen my stuff and I don’t think he’d rip it off. We did a quiz sketch on Adam And Joe a bit like Mitchell and Webb’s “Numberwang” sketch. It was the most similar thing I’ve seen to our stuff, but I know for a fact they’d never seen it. That’s what hurt. We weren’t even on their radar.
Do you ever write for other comedians?
I wrote some stuff for Barry Humphries’ last show. And we were asked once to write funny subtitles for a music video, which we did, but never heard back. I bumped into the band’s press officer – I can’t remember the band – and she said they didn’t use it “because it was crap”.
Is it frustrating doing your web stuff for free?
I do voiceovers to earn my living now and never expect to make money from things I enjoy. On The Adam And Joe Show we were getting paid, but not much, as it was a home-made show. The budget for the entire first series was only £50,000, but a half-hour pilot will cost £200,000 these days.
Do you turn any voiceovers down?
I turn a lot down, but if you’re doing commercial work and you’ve got moral qualms, you’re fucked, because every business has unsavoury connections if you look deep enough. My basic rule is no booze and no army ads.
Is there a TV idea you pitch that’s always knocked back?
Joe was always quite embarrassed when I pitched Adam And Joe’s Very Good Time. It’s like Holiday, where we go on an amazing trip, travel first class, and someone films it.
It seems a bit… indulgent?
That’s what they always said. Then they’d suggest the opposite, where we have a really bad time. I got close to hosting a guide to crap towns, but it fell apart at the last minute. About 70% of my time is spent on things that don’t materialise.
Why did The Adam And Joe Show finish?
We got tired as we did so much of it ourselves. And we got competitive, working in the middle of the night to do better stuff. He’d bring in something really good and I’d think, “Twat.”
Will you work together again?
Joe’s writing stuff with Edgar Wright and working on another couple of films, but we’ve always done stuff together. We’re going to do more podcasts and some stuff for the BBC.
Are you waiting for your Office?
The difference between Merchant/Gervais and us is our instinct for success is crap – well, Joe’s is okay. And they have the common touch. You’d drive yourself bananas trying to get that sort of success.
If you had to give up, what would you do?
I’d go back to being a bartender. All they do is steal money and talk about owning a bar. I’d have one in Austin, Texas, with loads of indie bands. I’d be a hairier, fatter Tom Cruise. But the same height.
Original interview by Andrew Hankinson in the October 2008 issue of FHM UK magazine