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Matt Berry caricatureRich Fulcher caricature
Mustard
interview

Matt Berry
& Rich Fulcher

Matt Berry (Garth Marenghi's Darkplace, The IT Crowd) and Rich Fulcher (Mighty Boosh) discuss their sketch show Snuff Box.

So, you two met on the first series of The Mighty Boosh, is that right?

RICH: Yeah, we would do a scene together and then go back to the bar and hang out for a couple of hours.

MATT: Rich can really drink and I'm, you know, quite fond of it too. It was good to meet someone who had the same passion and we didn't ever at any point speak about comedy.

Rich, you were a founding member of Boosh weren't you?

RICH: Back in '98 me, Noel, Julian and Sean Cullen were in a show called Unnatural Acts on Paramount. We wanted to do a show together but Sean couldn't do it, so we did it without him. That's how it all started.

MATT: Oh God...

RICH: Fast forward, cause Matt's so bored of me telling this story!

MATT: We always get asked the same questions. But you can't be flippant: one guys asked me my favourite film and I, jokingly, said "Crocodile Dundee" and it got printed as fact. I was trying to be too funny and I basically said that over the phone and thought he wouldn't print it cos they wouldn't be interested but they did so the joke was on me.

Okay, let's rectify that. Matt, what's your favourite film?

MATT: Watership Down. Seriously. It's a work of genius in every way.

RICH: Mesmerising

MATT: I'm not taking the piss. I love the book and it's very rare that a book as well written as that is going to work in any other form. I can't think of any other example where it's as good if not better experience than the book.

RICH: I like the novelisation of Honey I Shrunk the Kids.

Was there a conscious decision on Snuff Box not to do catchphrase based comedy?

RICH: Yes.

MATT: Thing is, you can help it. Anybody saying something kind of ridiculous or preposterous is going to end up being a catchphrase. People just grab hold of bits and yell at you across the street.

RICH: It doesn't even matter if you're against catchphrases. They yell at you across the street – some obscure thing you've never even heard of.

MATT: I guess the closest thing in Snuff Box is 'Whisky'. But there was no intention. It was just a way of wrapping the sketch up because I couldn't think of what else to do.

There's a guy in my office who's always doing your line from The IT Crowd: "Faaaaatherrrrr!"

MATT: I usually get that on the tube, someone does that right in my ear. We did um... oh no, we can't talk about that. We can't talk about Pete on the DVD...

RICH: No.

MATT: All I'll say is this. Pete Serafinowicz does an impersonation of that. But it doesn't sound... I mean, I can't say too much before the DVD comes out.

RICH: It's good though.

I suppose another almost-catchphrase in Snuff Box is how you end all the 'I've got a boyfriend' sketches with "FUCK!".

RICH: It's "fuck you!".

MATT: You can't have that as a catchphrase. No one owns that. You can't have that on a t-shirt.

RICH: We could copyright that. That would be like 'happy birthday' or something.

MATT: I wouldn't want that as a catchphrase. I don't want to be saying that when I'm an old bloke. I don't want to be saying it as a young bloke, that often.

RICH: The brother character wore a t shirt that said 'fuck you'. Maybe we should sell that.

MATT: That wasn't intentional, not a running joke.

RICH: No, it just happened organically. This just happen, you know. Get off our ass.

Rich, you did an Edinburgh show called Mom I'm Not a Lawyer. Do your parents still think you're...

RICH: They still don't know I'm a performer. They think I'm a producer. Last job I told them I was an agent. They just don't understand British comedy. Well, To The Manor Born, they like that. My parents aren't silly. That's why I'm silly. I'm a reaction to my parents. My Dad was in the air force. We don't need to go into this, do we?

MATT: It really hurts him to talk about it.

RICH: It's a gradual process. I'm working on a project where I'm writing about this right now. It's a cathartic thing. Suffice to say, it's going to be revealed very soon...

Would this be on radio, or a visual thing..?

RICH: In visual format. And 3D.

Matt, where did that voice you do in Darkplace come from?

MATT: A dark place. I don't know, I've never really heard it because it comes out of my mouth. Even when I watch it I can't really hear myself.

So you didn't watch 80s horror programmes and do a pastiche...

MATT: No...

Your voice in that show and in your sketches is different to when you're being interviewed now...

MATT: It's just that thing where you want to... work's work and sitting here is sitting here.

RICH: My voice is the same all the time.

MATT: It was just supposed to be stupid – people who talk like that are stupid people.

Matt, you've also been singing and performing music on tour...

MATT: Yeah, there was an album I did a few years ago, it's just come out, called Opium. So it's some songs from that and some stuff from that and stuff from Snuff Box and Darkplace and Saxondale. So it's music I did for TV and other stuff.

Would you do a tour of Snuff Box?

RICH: Absolutely. It would totally work. We'd have this surreal element to it. The whole thing: music, sketches...

MATT: I'm slightly afraid what could happen, if we did that. In that, I might never work again. Don't get me wrong I think it's a good idea.

RICH: It could either be the best idea or the worst idea.

Do you miss the buzz of live performance when you're doing stuff on TV?

MATT: I don't mind. Live is really good fun. But... there's really great things about both platforms, if you like. "Platforms" – what a tosser! What a prick. You'll think I'm an idiot for saying that.

RICH: Live makes you feel alive. TV makes you feel dead inside. No, they're both good. I mean, you're cooped up in a TV studio the first thing I wanna do is to go on a stage.

Do you try out ideas for Snuff Box on the live stage first?

MATT: No, I don't have that same kind of urge. Musically, maybe.

RICH: The best thing about Snuff Box is that we wrote it for TV. A lot of TV sketch shows are by sketch groups who've been doing it live and then get a TV commission. Their first series is often the worst, because they're literally transcribing their sketches. And then for the second series they go "oh, we've got to write for TV".

MATT: And there's a kind of knowingness about it. They know what works because its been done so many times and everyone's laughed at a certain point. You can work on an act for 10 years on stage, whether it's a sketch show or stand up, and then it's lost a lot by the time you actually film it. Whereas if you do it for the first time, there's something about that. In the opposite way for an album, you know, if you tour your album before you put it on tape, nine times out of ten it's gonna be much, much better. But I think with what we're doing you can get a result first time.

RICH: Yeah.

MATT: Oh shit. That was serious.

RICH: That was really serious.

MATT: [flipping through the Graham Linehan interview in issue #01 of Mustard.] The thing with Graham that I really admire is that he will tell you exactly how he writes. I can't think any other comedy writer's that's ever been that candid.

RICH: A thing we did in Snuff Box was to brake a certain mould. A lot of shows will write ten sketches and then cut four of them, keeping the ones they like. But we wanted to write a show where everything was tied in and it was a complete script. Sitcoms do that. Why can't we do that for a sketch show?

MATT: In doing that, there's a massive risk. There'll be a thing that is quite important to the story in a sketch, so whatever happens it's gotta stay in.

RICH: So it takes a lot of gumption. Huge massive balls of steel.

Snuff Box clips are all over YouTube and it's gained a cult following, is it good to finally have it out on DVD?

MATT: Erm. Yeah.

RICH: June 16 2008!

MATT: It's partly our fault [that more people didn't see it on BBC3]; it was shown very late due to the content. And it's never been repeated.

RICH: 11pm. We went all the way to 11.

MATT: Fuck. So because it was so late on a Monday night or something, it's hardly been seen.

RICH: In a way that's good for DVD.

MATT: Yeah, like Darkplace it was on late and only shown once, so people want to see it on DVD.

RICH: People get excited and masturbate furiously about the possibility of it coming out on DVD. Furiously.

So have all the YouTube clips helped?

MATT: It's kind of frustrating but it does its job. It gets people interested. But I think there's a lot of people who think that we just made them for YouTube.

RICH: Yeah, because a lot of people say "I love the clip of you kicking the dog, I love the one of you raping the teddy bear" and they don't know it's an actual show. This DVD will be the great equaliser for us. We're kind of a YouTube phenomenon but that's all going to change.

A lot of comedians write in pairs. How does that work with you two?

MATT: There is no chemistry

RICH: It doesn't exist. It's like aluminium and silver.

MATT: Oil and water.

RICH: We just get in a room, you know.

MATT: It's an odd one, because I have never given this any thought whatsoever. We just kind of did it.

RICH: Our two sensibilities collided. I think that's what works. We didn't think about it we just wrote what we wanted and put it together. We had an overall theme. We tied them em all. It was just a process of yeah, let's do that, let's do that. Let's put that there. It's one of those shows where if you think too much it just confuses the process.

Individually or together you pop up in a lot of recent comedy shows. Are you part of a kind of loose network of like-minded comedians?

MATT: I don't think so. I don't see it that way. I just do stuff that I like with people I like. I think it's simpler than that. I just know them.

RICH: It is all about cliques

MATT: Although, I'm really against that, I hate that kind of shit.

RICH: But in general, the whole comedy scene and TV specifically is a small group, so you can't help but be working with the same people regularly.

MATT: It sounds kind of lame, but for instance with Rich, I like his company. I don't want to do six weeks work on show with someone who I don't like. But he hates me.

RICH: Yeah, it doesn't work both ways.

For people who haven't seen Snuff Box...

MATT: Fuck em.

Okay, so what's up next?

MATT: I'm doing The IT Crowd.

RICH: Boosh tour.

MATT: I just finished a film with Sam Rockwell called Moon.

RICH: I'm doing The Boat That Rocked, the Richard Curtis movie.

MATT: We're working on the next progression of Snuff Box which we hope won't be shown at midnight and will be watched by more than four people.

RICH: Five people.

Matt Berry /RichFulcher

~ all Mustard interviews ~

See also:
Matt Berry writes song for Mustard »
Matt Berry's 'Albums that changed my life' »
Rich Fulcher as Boosh's Eleanor »
The IT Crowd features Mustard magazine »
Graham Linehan interview »
 

Mustard #01: Graham LinehanMustard #02: Michael PalinMustard #03: Peep Show's Bain & ArmstrongMustard #04: Alan MooreMustard #05a: Stewart LeeMustard #05b: Richard HerringMustard #06: John LloydMustard #07: Robin InceMustard #08: Portlandia's Carrie Brownstein & Fred Armisen

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