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by Matt Dornan / pictures by Paul Heartfield
(excerpt)Stand-up is a very solitary occupation whereas making movies and Television shows is much more collaborative. How do you juggle those two things?
They're both very gratifying in their own way and, probably because I'm working on both sides. It's great and fun to collaborate and, in fact, it's easier. It's thoughtless, it's mindless. If you trust everybody you're working with then you just go and create this thing and everyone else is really doing the hard work. There's a part of you that desires to just communicate your own ideas and that's what stand-up satisfies. But stand-up is one of the loneliest jobs out there. You're constantly travelling, you're with strangers, it's just you. I mean, it's lonely. When you're in the middle of that you're craving the easier stuff.The impression I got from the commentaries on the 'Mr. Show' DVDs is that everyone's on the same side. There's no discernable competition.
We were very particular about that. We had a very specific idea of how to do the show. Both Bob and I had worked in various groups. Bob had written at 'Saturday Night Live' which is quite possibly the exact opposite way [our] show is run. And he had a miserable time and recognised it for what it was, as did I, which was possibly the worst way to do good comedy. I think Bob was more actively responsible for creating these boundaries. And it was also very organic. That show developed from Bob and I hanging out as friends and fuckin' around at parties, to a stage show, to a TV pilot, to four episodes, to six, to ten. So it was a very natural progression and we were determined to be as equitable and fair as possible. There was a sense that people were jockeying to get their bits in, as was I. Bob and I both had several pieces that the group said, "Go rewrite it" or "dump it", y'know? It was very equitable that way.I guess the only time it went sour was with the movie, where the blame seems to lie with the director, Troy Miller.
Yeah, well Troy Miller ruined that movie. He is solely responsible for that. Our part was that we didn't write the greatest script. That was our fourth draft, but no studio was interested in it at all. So we kept tailoring the script and making it a little more formulaic each time, and that's where our involvement in the shittiness of the end result ends. We could have made that movie funnier. If we were allowed into editing, if we were shown the dailies, if we were given access to all that stuff and been more of the creative process then the movie would have been better. Bob and I are funnier than Troy Miller, we're funnier than New Line Studios. And then it comes down to ego, with Troy believing, truly believing in his heart, that he needs to save the movie from Bob and I. Because we're gonna come in and make it some crazy mishmash of comedy, whereas he knows how to tell a story.There's a segment among the extras on the 'Mr Show' DVD, that appears to have been edited by you and Bob; it's more in keeping with the overall 'Mr Show' aesthetic. And is thus funnier.
There you go. Yeah, please, you check out my body of work and you check out Troy Miller's body of work. Look at Bob's work, my work, and our work together and then look at 'Jack Frost', 'Dumber and Dumberer' and 'Run Ronnie Run' and you tell me who's funnier, who's smarter and who's more original.
CWAS #16 - Autumn 2004