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Motherbanger: the music of Chris Morris


 
I think we can all agree that Chris Morris is a comedic genius, right?

His work, from BBC Radio’s On The Hour and The Chris Morris Music Show in the early 90s, through The Day Today, Brass Eye and Nathan Barley on TV, and all the way up to his most recent work, Four Lions, is both howlingly funny and the pinnacle of biting satire.

One of the reasons his work is so powerful is the attention to detail, from the small linguistic tics to the perfectly-framed, over-the-top computer graphics. But in particular, for me, it’s his use music that is most impressive. Morris can simultaneously rip the piss out of a tune or a band while lodging a brand new melody in the style of that act permanently into your brain. That’s no mean feat.

While Chris Morris’ musical works are never really foregrounded in his films and shows, they are definitely worthy of attention in their own right. (Heads up WARP - why not put out a compilation of Morris’ musical satires?) So, after a discussion with a friend that was sparked by the discovery of an American band non-ironically named “Blouse”, I decided to compile the best of Morris’ musical parodies for DM.

A major tip of the hat is due to the YouTube uploader FourJamLions, who has uploaded quite a bit of Morris’ music, though some of it is not embeddable on other sites. Here is FourJamLions’ compiled clip of the best musical moments from the classic series Brass Eye. This clip includes the priceless Pulp parody “Blouse” (with Morris playing the lead singer “Purves”) singing an ode to serial child killer Myra Hindley. After the jump there’s more of Morris’ musical monstrosities, but if you need some bizarre-but-familiar aural refreshment this Friday, here’s a great introduction:

BRASS EYE Music (inc Pulp parody BLOUSE “Me Oh Myra”)
 

 
After the jump, music from The Day Today, Brass Eye, Nathan Barley, and The Chris Morris Music Show…
 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle: genius or garbage?


 
British stand up comedian Stewart Lee has returned to the BBC with a second series of his opinion dividing show Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle. A ratings flop on its first run, it seems like a small miracle that it has made it back to our screens at all. Not least because a lot of hardcore comedy heads just don’t like it - and that includes some of our own writers here at DM, who have turned off episodes of the show in the past.

Lee was one half of the hip 90s alt comedy duo Lee and Herring, who starred in the cultish TV shows Fist of Fun and This Morning with Richard Not Judy. Since parting with Herring some years ago, Lee has followed a more polemical route without resorting to agitprop or being in-yer-face. He also took a very long hiatus from TV before returning in 2009, and seems to have ironed out some of the flaws from the first series of Comedy Vehicle. The involvement of Chris Morris, Arnold Brown and Armando Iannucci has perhaps helped too (worth particular mention are the interview cut aways featuring a very spiteful Iannucci and a deflated Lee).

In comedy terms this is very much an acquired taste. If you are happy to be a passive consumer of lowest common denominator observational humor, then this is not the show for you. If you are a fan of slapstick or rapid fire gags, Lee does neither. Even if you consider yourself a comedic connoisseur and you get what is is that he does, you still might not like it. And I’m not going to lie, Lee can be very hit or miss. But when he hits he hits hard - to answer the question in the headline I think he might actually be a comedy genius.

Watching the first episode of series two, which is ostensibly about “Charity” but is actually about Lee’s fictional grandad’s love for crisps, I felt like I had never seen anyone perform comedy that was this self-reflexive yet this funny before. Maybe I was in the right place at the right time, and in the right frame of mind but Lee manages that incredibly rare, almost magical feat of signposting a joke from miles away yet making the journey to the punchline, and the payoff itself, very funny indeed. See his grandad’s “crisps”/“crips” confusion (and even the repetition of the word “crisps” itself). This had me in stitches - contrary to the suggestion by some critics that his style will inspire a smirk rather than a belly laugh.

Stewart Lee manages to deliver comedy about comedy that keeps an audience engaged and laughing, without resorting to crudity or obviousness. He walks the thin line of being very knowing, and also knowing that we know he knows, without (completely) disappearing up his own arse. The viewer definitely has to be in the right frame of mind to appreciate Lee’s tangental, mumbly approach but if you’re willing to invest a bit more attention to a stand up comic than normal, it is richly rewarded.

Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle - Series Two, Episode One “Charity” - Part One
 

 
Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle - Series Two, Episode One “Charity” - Part Two
 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Chris Morris and Alan Partridge discuss Princess Di & JFK’s deaths

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Finally!  This audio sketch originally appeared as a hidden bonus on the DVD release of The Day Today in 2004, and I have been waiting ever since for someone to upload it to the internet. Now you can hear two titans of British comedy riffing on conspiracy theories, assassinations, Russian spies and trade unions in their own particular love/hate (mostly hate) style. This sounds totally unscripted, which makes it even better. And this Partridge guy really knows his stuff, Alex Jones should get him on as a guest.
 
Chris Morris & Alan Partridge talk conspiracies:
 

 
Bonus!
 
This is the other Easter egg from The Day Today DVD - Chris Morris speaking to Peter O’Hanrahanrahan live from the World Trade Center on September 11th 2001.
 
The Day Today - 9/11
 

 
You can buy the complete The Day Today on DVD here.
 
Previously on DM: Nupticution: death row lovers to be married while strapped in electric chair and then exececuted

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Chris Morris retrospective at Cinefamily
03.03.2011
07:23 pm

Topics:
Movies
Pop Culture
Television

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Cinefamily
Chris Morris

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Beginning tonight in Los Angeles, the might Cinefamily is presenting a three-day encore run of Chris Morris’s Four Lions, and a full retrospective of his classic British television shows:

The word “genius” is thrown around rather casually these days when describing talented folks who do a very good job of what they do—but Chris Morris is one of those rare people to whom the term genuinely applies, and we absolutely mean it when we say Chris Morris is a comedic genius. For twenty years, he’s been the foremost boundary-pushing satirist in British comedy, giving us savagely funny fare like the proto-Daily Show news parodies The Day Today and Brass Eye, the Lynch-meets-SNL absurdity of Jam, and the acidic hipster/Vice Magazine critique of Nathan Barley—and now, his riotous feature directorial debut, which skewers the modern-day jihadist movement! Chris’s unshakeable wit is often aimed at topics deemed controversial, but it always provides a social criticism underneath the sensationalism, lampooning hysteria and groupthink with heroic levity. We here at the Cinefamily have been Morris fans since before we can remember, and we’re thrilled to present not only an encore three-day run of Four Lions, but a full retrospective of Morris’s creations in British television!

My fellow Los Angelenos, don’t miss this rare chance to see Four Lions in a cinema setting, but gosh, which TV series to catch? The Day Today? Brass Eye? Jam? Nathan Barley? That’s hard because I’m such a big Chris Morris fan. I’ve shoved DVDs of all these shows into the paws of many a friend for about a decade now, but I still think I’d give Nathan Barley the (slight) edge when it comes to picking which of his series to watch in a room full of people. A communal experience of Jam would be great, too, but Nathan Barley’s vicious hipster satire would go down quite well with the Cinefamily audience, I think. No matter how you slice it, it’s an embarrassment of riches. The man can do no wrong in my eyes.
 

 
Below, my December 2010 interview with Chris Morris:
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
David Bowie pissing into a toaster

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A fine example of the Banksy-esque artwork of fictional artist 15Peter20 from the Nathan Barley TV series created by Chris Morris and Charlie Brooker, who described the character like so, in a February 12, 2005 article from The Guardian:

Either a genius or a dazzling genius, depending on which way you look at it, 15Peter20 (real name Ian Phillips) has made his mark in the world of contemporary photography thanks to a series of shocking, gimmick-heavy exhibitions in which the gimmick quickly becomes attached to the underside of the art, then scuttles up its back, hops on its shoulders and screams which direction it should go in, while simultaneously flashing its bum at passers-by. His new collection, Piss Bliss, consists entirely of photographs of celebrities urinating, thereby expertly capturing their animal vulnerability while exquisitely forcing jocular postmodernity to commit taboobicide. These pictures are at once the most revealing portrait photographs ever taken and an absolutely bloody flabbergasting waste of the world’s time.

This piece appears in the book Fucking With Your Head Yeah? that came with the original Nathan Barley DVD release.

Via Kraftfuttermischwerk

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Chris Morris on ‘Four Lions’
11.08.2010
08:02 am

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Movies

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Chris Morris
Four Lions

Director Chris Morris talks about his controversial new “jihadi satire,” Four Lions, a bleak, black comedy that explores the undeniably farcical side of terrorism! Four Lions—which has been justifiably compared to This is Spinal Tap and Dr. Strangelove—in the words of the director, “understands how terrorism relates to testosterone. It understands jihadis as human beings. And it understands human beings as innately ridiculous.” Now in theaters, released by Drafthouse FIlms.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Xeni Jardin interviews Chris Morris about jihadi comedy ‘Four Lions’
11.04.2010
09:35 am

Topics:
Movies

Tags:
Chris Morris
Xeni Jardin
Four Lions

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Last week an email blast went out about a special LA screening at Cinefamily of British satirist Chris Morris’s new, uh, “terrorist comedy”—for what else could you call it?—Four Lions. The director would be present, a rare appearance indeed, by Morris on these shores. I’d already seen the film, but getting to hear Morris talk about his work in person was not an event I was going to miss.

I attended the packed and enthusiastic screening with my good friend, Xeni Jardin, who conducted a terrific interview with Chris Morris that she posted today on Boing Boing:

Xeni Jardin: When I first heard about this film I thought: Chris Morris has spun a comedy from of a sad and serious subject. After seeing the film, and now hearing you talk, it seems that the comedy was all there—it’s just not politically correct to bring it to light.

Chris Morris: I suppose, in a way. Look, the cartridges that were bombs, that were intercepted in the FedEx parcel bombing attempt last week—the guy who made those bombs turned his brother into a bottle rocket last year. That whole group are basically displaced Saudis in Yemen. They don’t like the Saudis. This guy wanted to blow up a Saudi prince. And he persuaded his brother to use a suppository bomb. The suppository bomber turns up at the Saudi prince’s place, says hello to the Saudi prince, pulls out a trigger, fires off the bomb, then blasts himself vertically, straight through the ceiling. The Saudi prince picks himself up and says, “Right, now then, where was I?” And that’s the end of that. It’s a perfect sight gag. For everyone other than the guy’s mother, it’s a funny story.

Four Lions opens tomorrow in selected American cities.

Four Lions: Finding the Lulz in Jihad(Boing Boing)
 

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Four Lions Trailer Out!
04.24.2010
12:29 pm

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Movies

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Four Lions


The trailer for Chris Morris’s Jihadi comedy “Four Lions” went up today (the film has already shown at Sundance). Guardian review also attached below.

Chris Morris is still the most incendiary figure working in the British entertainment industry. Even if you have not read reports of Four Lions’ premiere at Sundance, it should come as no surprise that Morris – the man behind surreal short film My Wrongs 8245-8249 and 117, and the TV series Nathan Barley, has taken on arguably the most bad-taste subject imaginable: a cell of homegrown jihadi bombers, feverishly plotting martyrdom from terrace houses in Doncaster.

The title is offered up with sledgehammer irony: our crew of wannabe killers are as fervent as football fans, and at one point — in a parody of the 7/7 tube bombers’ group hug caught on a station surveillance camera — cuddle up and chant motivational phrases.

But of course it’s as contrary an idea as everything else Morris sets up: these are anti-patriots of the most unmistakable kind. Added to which, there are actually five of them. Omar (Riz Ahmed) is the intense, coiled-spring leader, Fessel (Adeel Akhtar) his clueless, dozy lieutenant; Waj (Kayvan Novak), an easily confused bruiser; harmless-looking Hassan (Arsher Ali), a late sub when one of the others enters heaven a little earlier than planned; and Barry (Nigel Lindsay), — the most bizarre of all the “lions” — a Caucasian convert to Islam with a streak of ferocious invective and penchant for little hats.

(Via Ectoplasmosis)

(Guardian review)

(Chris Morris: Blue Jam)

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New Clip From Chris Morris’ “Four Lions”
01.22.2010
01:01 pm

Topics:
Movies

Tags:
Chris Morris
Four Lions

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New clip just went online for infamous satirist Chris Morris’ eagerly-awaited jihadist comedy film “Four Lions.” The film promises to be a “light-hearted look” at English domestic terrorism. Morris’ past track record includes the faux-news shows “The Day Today” and “Brass Eye” (largely the inspiration for “Ali G” and “The Daily Show”) as well as the insomnia-fever-dream comedy “Jam.” Can’t wait for this one.

(Chris Morris: Four Lions)

(Chris Morris: Blue Jam)


Posted by Jason Louv | Leave a comment