I was in London last week and I had two things on my to-do list. 1 - visit Pocahontas’ grave in Kent, and 2 - stalk my hero Chris Morris (at one point I sadly lost my grip on reality and imagined I would be able to convince Mr. Morris to accompany me to Kent). Well, the screwy trains kept me from making my pilgrimage and the closest my UK TV friends got me to Chris Morris was the DVD section at Fopp.
Chris Morris is the genius behind legendary British comedies like The Day Today and Brass Eye, (his Brass Eye special on Paedophilia is the most complained about TV program in UK history – watch the amazing 'Paedogeddon' 15 second advert (link).
Sacha Baron Cohen may be famous now for spoofing celebrities and politicians but Chris Morris was doing this sort of thing 12 years ago.
The best place to start watching is Brass Eye. Here are some of my favorite bits courtesy of YouTube
Expose on the drug CAKE (link)
A length of skin clad tube.. (link)
Crime problem (link)
And of course the legendary Paedogeddon special, which you can watch in its entirety (part1) (part2) (part3)
You might as well hunt down the DVD (link)
Brass Eye ran on Channel 4 in 1997, its precursor is the 1994 series The Day Today. This series is similar to Brass Eye, but the fake news thing is much more front and center - and again I must point out that he is doing this in 1994 - a full decade before John Stewart makes headlines). Here are a few great clips:
A compilation of all the “speak your brains” vox-pop segments from the series (link)
Young Alan Partridge (Steve Coogan is an early coconspirator of Chris Morris and a regular on The Day Today) (link)
In 2004 Chris Morris co-wrote and directed a six episode series called Nathan Barley. Nathan Barley is one of those obnoxious new media types – he refers to himself as a “self-facilitating media node” He is the guy with the obnoxious cell phone and the obnoxious mini trike and he has an obnoxious website www.trashbat.co.ck (the Cook islands!) The menu loop on the Nathan Barley DVD provides a great intro to the character (link) The series starts off with Nathan meeting Dan, a writer for a magazine called Sugarape. Dan has a piece decrying the idiots like Nathan Barley – of course all the idiots love the piece and Dan. Nathan thinks Dan is ultra-cool and will do whatever Dan does (link).
Here is my favorite scene from the series. Sugarape is now pimping Dan as their Preacher Man, he is even forced to wear a mock preacher outfit in public – Watch what happens when he has to take the stage and assist Nathan with his Trashbat Rap (link) In a way this scene reworks one of my favorite comedy bits of all time – the scene in The Life of Brian, when Brian tells the crowd to think for themselves to which they all shout back in unison "Yes, we are all individuals”. (of course this is on youtube as well) (link) The Nathan Barely DVD is a must have - it comes with an amazing booklet that is identical to the idiotic culture jamming booklets Banksys puts out - but of course this one is funny (link)
Like all great artists Chris Morris doesn’t really do interviews – which makes this “about Chris Morris” clip pretty interesting – (link) Chris began his career in radio, there is a great program called On the Hour (Steve Coogan and Armando Iannucci both work on this as well). Some of his more recent audio stuff is famous on the internets (link) but I have yet to find where the web is hiding all the Chris Morris mp3s (post a link in the comments if you know where they are). If you want to watch more Chris Morris, Youtube will keep you busy for hours (link) (the clips from his Jam show are fantastic) and he is also currently a cast member of the Channel 4 program The IT Crowd (link).