Let’s get real. Hardly anyone is funny. Most people blather on in conversation with their dull opinions and ‘me-monster’ attitudes, and hey, it is boring us all to death. The rest of humanity, and I, don’t care about that Arkansas fishing trip you took twelve years ago, or your daft opinion on the benefits of flax seed oil on joint health.
If you are like me, and the rest of America, you probably have no idea who Iain Morris is. But Americans do not know a lot of things we should, like basic math. All that matters is that you know that Morris and his handsome creative partner Damon Beesley have created the cult-hit The Inbetweeners and that they have Ricky Gervais’ stamp of approval as some of the most talented people in comedy.
Why do I like Iain Morris? He is witty. He understands the majority of the population grew up thrilled, stunned with pleasure at the edge of their sofa, enraptured by the genius momentum of Law & Order, Battlestar Galactica and 90210. In conversation he tries to keep pace with the engaging beat of such legendary entertainment, and it makes you want to actually stay tuned-in to his channel.
Morris and I chatted a few weeks ago about his hit T.V. show the Inbetweeners which was recently made into a wickedly humorous movie for the U.S. masses that is hitting theaters like now. He was phoning in from a luxury cabana in Hollywood, and I was trapped behind a precariously high stack of manila folders.
VIDEO: Ricky Gervais Talks About Iain Morris and Damon Beesley
Exec Digital: Firstly, I must say that The Inbetweeners was funny as sh*t. I watched the movie after watching a slew of terrible, horrible movies (ParaNorman and Future) and I questioned if I would ever see a movie again, and if I had the will to live in a world teething with such terrible cinema. The Inbetweeners restored my faith in popular art. Which is shocking, almost violating, given all the vagina/penis bang-bang jokes. How did you pull such a quality movie off?
Iain Morris: Genius.That is really the only word you can use to describe what we accomplished with this film. We really are quite rare and genius.
Okay, no, but we are both unsophisticated film lovers. We hate going into a movie and saying, “My life is a bit worse after watching that.” We hope that The Inbetweeners will make the viewer say, “You know that was a great experience, I laughed amongst a crowd of other laughing people - that was an experience I don’t normally get to have.” Delivering that quality comes from being aware during the entire film’s production and trying not to overstep our welcome. We are conscious of keeping the story as grounded and realistic as we can.
ED: How do you make your characters so lovable when they have huge personality flaws, aren’t mind-blowingly good looking and they make terrible character judgments often? How did you give these four guys such heart?
IM: I think part of that is the actors. They really are four lovable idiots in real life as well. I give them a huge amount of credit for making us sympathize with these characters. You never feel like they are alpha males in charge, like Jay says the worst things to women, but there is no power behind those words. Since these characters have no ‘power’ the audience enjoys what they say, no matter how awful and vulgar it is.
ED:How did you maintain the vitality of the TV show when stretching it to film? Were there challenges in bringing the show to life on the big screen? Are there differences between ‘TV funny’ and ‘Film funny’?
IM: It is about scale. The cameras are bigger, and we used some helicopter shots. Also, it cost more money.
No, the emotional scale was bigger. For sitcoms we try and make quick jokes, quick comedic sequences, and for films the audience expects a bit more. They want to have an experience, and engage in a different way. When you go to a movie you are making an active decision. You have to pay for the babysitter, purchase tickets, and the filmmaker needs to return that investment if he doesn’t want to ruin their lives.
ED: Why is comedy more important than ever?
IM: Comedies are famously recession proof. In economic depressions they do really well. Audiences think if they have to go make that decision, and invest in a movie, do they want to go to something that will make them think, or one that will probably make them laugh for 90 minutes? Comedies are a less risky decision, because most people prefer laughter.
ED:You have worked with some comedy greats: Sasha Baron Cohen, Ricky Gervais, Jimmy Carr with two RRs. Has it changed your writing style to know you are in an elite class of funny people succeeding today?
IM: It makes me nervous, their success. I hate going outside, I have grown increasingly bitter by the success of my friends. I would love to say I support them whole-heartedly, but I die slightly inside every time I see them on the front of a magazine, or their name on a marquee. No, look, it has been wonderful to create and collaborate among such great talents. I am truly grateful.
ED:Closing question. If the movie goes fantastically, and it will, are there any outlandish purchases you will make? For example, an exotic menagerie, a gold gilded robot version of Burt Reynolds who does your laundry and makes your crumpets? A diamond encrusted mouth plate?
IM:You know I haven’t thought of a menagerie, but I would love a menagerie. That is the main thing I would like. As I am getting older it is getting harder for me to spot birds, and I would like the idea of having the whole animal kingdom at my intimate beck and call.
You know I haven’t got into cars for over fourteen years, and I just moved to Los Angeles – my wife is American - so I quite fancy the idea of buying a really middle-aged man, breakdown sports car, just for a couple of weeks. Just two weeks of driving around L.A. in a proper, ‘I’m having a breakdown’ sports car.
In conclusion, I would like to thank Iain Morris’ mum, wherever you are. Thank you for not bringing another painstakingly timid and tedious jerk into the world. You, like Mother Theresa, have made the world a more livable place.
VIDEO: The Inbetweeners Movie Trailer: