If you haven’t heard, comedic genius Matt Berry (Snuff Box, The IT Crowd, Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace) has an outrageously funny new comedy series on Channel4 called Toast of London. It’s one of the most adventuresome comedies to debut on British television in some time. (What up with that BBC comedy commissioners?)
Sharply written by Berry and Father Ted‘s Arthur Matthews, the show revolves around the career and sexual exploits of one Steven Toast, a sleazy, egotistical middle-aged thespian. It’s pretty much the perfect role for Matt Berry and must have been a lot of fun to write. Berry told Radio Times that the character was inspired by some of the unsuccessful actors he met doing voiceover work.
With Alan McGee it’s difficult not to be inspired to go out and do something great, something daring, like he did with Creation Records and Poptones and all the bands whose music defines the past 3 decades. His infectious energy glows and inspires, it fills you with his rich enthusiasms for life.
Just now McGee seems to be everywhere: he is making a film called Kubricks with the artist Dean Cavanagh; he’s writing his memoirs; he’s curating a music festival in Japan for 2013; he’s working on an art exhibition with musician Alex Lowe of Gun Club Cemetery; he’s thinking about returning to making records because most of today’s music is “awful”; and he’s also studying Aleister Crowley and Magick.
‘For the last 5 years, I have been studying Crowley / Osman Spare and the Chaos Magickians. I got into Crowley because everybody told me not to go there so, of course, I did and ended up at Chaos Magick.
‘I 100% love Aleister Crowley. The Book of the Law is my Bible. I love him. Anybody that is still demonised by the media seventy years later had to be on it and he was. He was the ultimate libertarian.
‘I believe in the power of will. If I want something to happen it does. It always has and that was before I read Pete J Carroll. I really wanted Creation Records to become massive and to get the biggest band in the world and I did.
‘I wanted to become rich and I did, which sounds crass but I come from Glasgow we had fuck all, so having money interested me and still does.
‘If I really want something it comes to me. That was before I learned you can do it with technique, we all can read the right books and be very accurate in what I want to achieve.
This might sound like arrogance, but it’s not. It’s just said in a matter-of-fact way, without any sense of ego.
‘I am almost a hermit in Wales, then I go and DJ or give a talk or work with Takashi, my Japanese friend on Tokyo Rocks and I become the old Alan/Rock ‘n’ Roll Alan, which I also enjoy.’
Most recently he bought a church.
‘I bought this chapel in Wales, as all the pubs and churches are for sale, so I bought it for 33K, has its own graveyard, it’s pretty posh, so that should be fun. I live on a ley line in Hay-on-Wye, everything that happens here is charged. The chapel is more for doing stuff that local people can interact with long term. I know Primal Scream want to do playbacks there etc. so, it’s going to be fun.’
Last month he was producing his first feature film Kubricks, written and directed by Dean Cavanagh, starring Joanna Pickering, Matt Berry, Gavin Bain, Anton Newcombe and, of course, McGee.
Dean and Alan became friends around 2008, after working on the hit on-line comedy series Svengali, which has now been made into a movie.
‘We formed Escalier 39 as a film company to shoot some DIY films. We talk a lot on the phone and have a lot of the same political and spiritual views on things so the film company seemed obvious to us. It’s an experiment really, to see if we can make films together.’
He pauses when asked what his role is in Kubricks.
‘Good question. Maybe as agent provacateur.’
Kubricks was shot over an ‘exhausting’ 5 days and is currently being edited. It’s tag-line is ‘Everything Is Synchronicity…Even Chaos!’ and is a new map to the world Kenneth Anger once filmed (‘I love Kenneth Anger…he’s an amazing dude’) of Magick and Art. Though McGee puts it more bluntly:
‘I could say meta-physics, but the truth is we don’t really know, which is why we did it.’
Kubricks will released next year, which brings us to McGee’s next project, his return to music after his “retirement” five years ago, which led him to believe he had given muisc up completely. But the cancer of mediocrity spread by Simon Cowell and the piss-poor quality of current chart music has led McGee to rethink things, especially after an offer to organize music festivals in Japan.
‘Recently I have been helping curate stadium festivals in Tokyo for 2013, and I am enjoying it. So maybe I am moving back towards music. I don’t know, to be honest.
‘I do like films and books more than working with music but I find music easy to do, I sort of understand the music process and always have done.
‘I think music is awful at this point and it’s deliberate. Music is such a strong thing, with the message and the vibration and they want it now to be shit so it loses its impact on people. They are great bands around but they just are basically marginalised till they give in.’
Next up, is an exhibition with Alex Lowe, and another film with Cavanagh set in the recently acquired church..
‘Dean is already writing a script about the chapel, but to be honest we both have too many ideas.’
Mustard Mag has delightful and downloadable PDFs of DIY papercraft dolls featuring all your favorite Britcom celebrities, including this week’s talkshow guests Matt Berry and Rich Fulcher from Snuff Box.
I love the Stewart Lee doll. Captures him well, I think. Not that he’s a blockhead or anything…
Matt Berry (The IT Crowd, Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace) and Rich Fulcher (The Mighty Boosh) discuss their dark BBC3 cult comedy series, Snuff Box, swearing, and how such an insane TV series ever got made in the first place. Snuff Box is now out on DVD in America from Severin Films with a bonus CD of Matt Berry’s excellent original soundtrack music.
This weekend, Matt Berry (The IT Crowd) and Rich Fulcher (The Mighty Boosh) will descend upon Los Angeles to promote the release of their BBC cult comedy series Snuff Box on DVD by Severin Films. The DVD (which includes a bonus CD of Matt Berry’s excellent soundtrack music) will be in stores by October 11th, but Los Angelenos will be able to pick it up early at Amoeba Records where there will be a DVD signing October 1st at 4:30pm (You might want to get there earlier to see Rich in action as auctioneer for Amoeba’s Monthly Charity Auction at 4pm, I’m sure that will be memorable…).
Berry and Fulcher will also be appearing that night at The Upright Citizens Brigade at 10pm for a screening of two Snuff Box episodes and a Q&A. (Earlier that day, I’ll be interviewing them for the Dangerous Minds talkshow).
On Sunday, October 2nd at 7pm Berry & Fulcher will be appearing at Cinefamily for a screening and panel discussion co-hosted by Steve Agee and Rob Schrab of The Sarah Silverman Program (which both Matt and Rich have appeared in). Some live musical numbers are promised as well.
Below, an awkward date… Her last line is a stone classic, isn’t it?
I’ve practically been an evangelist for Snuff Box for these past five years, so I’m happy to report that at long last one of the decade’s hidden comedic gems will finally be coming out on DVD stateside. Snuff Box will be released in the US by Severin Films on October 11th.
What is Snuff Box? It’s the legendary BBC series written by and starring Britain’s Matt Berry (The IT Crowd, Garth Marenghi’s Dark Place) and American Rich Fulcher (The Mighty Boosh, The Sarah Silverman Program) that only aired once yet instantly entered cult infamy. It’s a combination of depraved sitcom about a pair of jovial hangmen and twisted sketch comedy ala Monty Python, filled with bad first dates, time travel, sex, whiskey, awkward moments, random beatings, snappy musical numbers, one very long white hall, rampant swearing and other pleasures. It’s the show critics have called “one the best kept secrets in the history of British comedy,” now on DVD for the first time ever in America!
Featuring commentaries from Berry, Fulcher and director Michael Cumming, “testimonials” from well-known fans of the show, behind the scenes featurettes and outtakes. There’s even a separate CD of Matt Berry’s striking original Snuff Box soundtrack music, a treat in itself.
Have a look at the new trailer featuring Simon Pegg, Paul Rudd, Noel Fielding, Rob Coddry, Rob Schrab, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Paul Scheer and yours truly. What Paul Scheer says at the end is, of course, totally true…
It’s the middle of the new series and it’s even better than the last. This go ‘round, I have laughed myself senseless at Richard Ayoade’s Moss enthralling a bunch of idiotic businessmen with his D&D prowess and Moss’s ninja quiz show skills. And Matt Berry… what a comic genius! All I can say is this: I wish there was a drug I could take that would turn me into Douglas for just one day. One day. Is that too much to ask?
I also laughed heartily at the name of the rock group, Sweet Billy Pilgrim, a reference, of course, to the character in Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, right? I made a mental note to email series creator Graham Linehan and tell him what a good chuckle I had at this great literary name he’d come up with, but before I did, I decided to Google Sweet Billy Pilgrim just in case. I’m glad I did as it actually is a real group! That would have been really embarrassing.
(Tara, being both from Ohio and a big Guided By Voices fan, wanted me to show you this particular zoom in on some of the details, hence the above screen grab)
Snuff Box is the name of the greatest sketch comedy show you’ve never heard of. I’d venture so far as to say it’s a work of demented genius. Make that two demented geniuses, Matt Berry (IT Crowd, Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace) and Rich Fulcher (“Bob Fossil,” “Eleanor,” etc., on The Mighty Boosh). First broadcast at 11pm on BBC3 in 2006 and never broadcast again, Snuff Box sadly was missed by its target audience, who ended up discovering it anyway, via YouTube and Bit Torrent. (Snuff Box finally came out on DVD in 2008).
Each episode begins with Berry and Fulcher (playing “themselves”) walking down a white hallway, before choosing a door leading to a typically odd “situation.” The pair are employed as government hangmen. They also spend a lot of time in a gentleman’s club (where time travel occurs), nursing whiskeys and swearing. There is a LOT of swearing in Snuff Box, so much so that it gives Deadwood a run for the money. It’s one of the meanest spirited comedies I can think of (not that this is a bad thing, of course).
Here are some of my favorite Snuff Box moments. First, the awkward date:
The Empty Room
The Guitar Lesson
Isn’t it about time Adult Swim picked this sucker up for American audiences??? (Hint, hint).