Interview Adam & Joe: Pop Vultures

In their homegrown TV show, which returns in April, Adam and Joe ransack celebrities' record collections, Adam's septuagenarian father reviews youth culture, and soft toys star in films such as the new seven- minute epic, Toytanic.

IT IS LUNCHTIME, and Adam Buxton and Joe Cornish, who keep late hours, have just finished breakfast. They are bouncing enthusiastically for the camera on the rumpled divan which will be familiar to those who have made a regular fixture of the late Friday night Adam & Joe Show (returning to Channel 4 for a third series on April 16). Between reels of film, they collapse, red-faced and shiny, and submit to more face powder. "My idea of celebrity was always to be asked to jump for a picture," says Joe contentedly. They are consistently required to goof about for publicity photographs - or perhaps they do it unbidden. Adam, 29, says, "We sometimes hope someone's going to reinvent us, but it's always, `I want you to be wrapped up in toilet paper and Joe should pretend to crap on your head.'" He and Joe, who is 30, have been close friends since meeting at Westminster school when they were 13.

One of the conceits of the entirely brilliant Adam & Joe Show, which sets out to highlight the absurdity of many aspects of popular culture, is that it is broadcast entirely from within the walls of a bedsit. This is festooned with pictures and paraphernalia reflecting some of their formative influences. Above the bed hangs a pop art interpretation of Jeremy Paxman's face; it jostles for attention with posters of David Bowie, Syd Barrett, Cleopatra, Ronan from Boyzone, a boy member of Steps - nothing and no one is deemed too frivolous or irrelevant to escape the attention of Adam and Joe, who are on constant critical standby.

Adam puts it differently. "We sap other people's creativity," he says airily. But beneath the programme's slap-dash DIY appearance (they conceived, write and film it on their own, as well as designing and creating the sets), and the puerile-yet-sophisticated humour, serious points are being made. Take for example the spoof recreations of successful films or television programmes, for which they employ their Star Wars figurines or stuffed animals as the actors (Toytanic, Ally McSqueal and Saving Private Lion being three of their latest ventures). These parodies, although very funny, have a purpose, as Joe points out: "All these modern movies like Titanic, Saving Private Ryan, Shakespeare in Love, they're fictionalised history, they're fucking with, um, fact and it makes me quite uncomfortable while I watch it. One minute you're going, Woah, look at those effects, while the guy's bouncing off the propeller, and the next you're thinking, Well, perhaps that actually happened. And were the people in the water going [he puts on a fruity English accent and claps heartily] `Well done Geoffrey! That was marvellous!'?" Adam chimes in: "`Well fallen!'"

In their rip-off of Saving Private Ryan, hordes of tiny soft toys are slaughtered mercilessly in scenes of carnage involving Heinz spaghetti as guts. At one poignant moment, a teddy bear soldier holds up a small furry limb and asks, "Has anyone lost a right leg?" His own is missing. Joe pre-empts any namby-pamby accusations of tastelessness: "We're not talking about the war but about the movie, and it's kind of sick and stupid for it to pretend it's anything to do with the real event. Look at the book of the film - it's really weird, this big glossy coffee-table book full of reconstructions of people dying. If it was a piece of art, people would call it sick, but because it's a movie that's sold as being fantastically morally upright, they don't. Anything that puts itself in the pop culture arena is up for grabs."

Behind Joe is a yellowing foam pyramid which was the iceberg used in Toytanic, "the seven-minute epic". Joe: "Filming Toytanic took ages. It was kind of topical when we made it last summer, but now everyone's fuckin' done it." Adam says, "Nopical. But it's transcended topicality really, hasn't it? It's become this..." Joe: "...tedious..." Adam: "...huge..." Joe: "...lump of crap". They often speak like this, in tandem, effing and blinding with ease.

In person, Adam and Joe are as quick, entertaining and high-density (their description: it comes at the start of the programme with an advisory to start videoing) as their show. Their exchanges move along at lightning speed, and their knowledge of Eighties and Nineties pop culture, including the most obscure details, is exhaustive. The names of treasured Eighties musical outfits (the Thompson Twins, Thomas Dolby, XTC, Prefab Sprout) are bandied about, along with those of Seventies children's TV presenters (the fate of Rod Hull, who fell off his roof and died on the day of the interview, weighs heavily on their minds. Joe observes sadly, "Emu didn't run out to catch him," to which Adam ripostes, "Emu probably pushed him off, because he was mischievous like that"). Brat Pack films (The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, St Elmo's Fire), weird Eighties comedy sci-fi (Short Circuit), big action blockbusters (Starship Troopers); all bob to the surface of Adam and Joe's cultural minestrone during the hour-long interview.

Do they ever find it depressing that there must be so much "crap" - to appropriate one of their key words - lodged in their psyches? Adam: "Not really. There's always going to be more, isn't there?" Joe: "It just piles up. I don't know that we want to get rid of it really - the memories. People say that pop music is really powerful at bringing back memories, and I think a lot of ephemeral pop culture's like that, even if it's just the smell of an action figure."

Adam and Joe have a love-hate relationship with much of their subject matter ("Sometimes you want to kick the TV in, but you still watch it," as Joe puts it succinctly), and not only because it provides them with material. Joe says, for instance, "This Morning is such a fat student cliche, but it's so compelling. I wake up at 11 and the first thing I do is put it on. It acclimatises us to the world every morning. You've got to watch it, although it can be absolute shit, because you just know Richard's going to say something idiotic at some stage. He comes out with the most fantastic stuff: `What are babies's dreams like? Imagine being able to see your baby's dreams - wouldn't that be magical?'" They have recently yielded to temptation and created "This Morning with Han and Chewy", which has the Star Wars Han Solo figurine as a vain, preening Richard, who, in a thought-bubble, imagines himself seated on one side of a fireplace, interviewing a small plastic statesman on the other: "So President Calrissian, which is your favourite Spice Girl?" Another of their parodies will be "Chew Wants To Be A Millionaire" - "Hosted by the Emperor, Chris Tyrant, Chewbacca being the contestant," Joe elucidates.

The ultimate stroke of genius when they were creating the show was to persuade Adam's septuagenarian father, Nigel Buxton, dubbed BaaadDad, to be their critic for youth culture. In the new series, he goes to LA for a rap lesson from Coolio ("Coolio, I'm not in the market for buffoonery," he says crisply, as a woolly hat from the rapper's own brand of clothing is arranged on his head); and is taken to Ibiza to assess club culture. "So much is encapsulated there - every social strata - that we spent a week and shot 20 hours of film," says Joe. BaaadDad was also required to spend time with the Chapman brothers, denizens of the Brit Art scene. What was that about? Joe: "He really hates contemporary art - he thinks it's debased and stupid - and was scandalised by the Sensation exhibition. So he spent a day with the Chapman brothers and they taught him to paint. He did a still-life of their sculpture `Two-faced C**t', and then went away and did six quite interesting paintings from his own imagination, and held a private view in the Chapmans' gallery, inviting lots of critics and artists. He got quite smashed and was very nervous - because although it's kind of a joke, he knows he's got to take it seriously for it to work." (An insight which more or less sums up the philosophy behind The Adam & Joe Show.) Adam nods. "The thing he was most impressed by was their brazen opportunism and their good humour about it, because the Chapmans especially are well aware of the ludicrous aspects of the modern art scene and a lot of their work is about that directly. But it didn't give him any more respect for the art scene."

We are in Borough in south London, in the room where Adam and Joe's television life is conducted. This is an actual bedsit converted into a studio, although in reality both live north of the river, in Clerkenwell - Adam alone, Joe with his girlfriend. Filming the series has taken nine months, so they have spent so much time here that they all but moved in ("We need a break, because we're going a bit mad," says Adam). Joe explains the clutter: "Our bedrooms were like this until ... basically until three or four years ago, when we started having girlfriends." Adam: "Now we have minimalist houses that we go back to and meditate in. So we've constructed our bedroom of, like, when we were 16." The Star Wars duvet cover on the bed is noteworthy: George Lucas's work underpins much of Adam and Joe's, partly because he is one film maker whose attention to detail meets their own exacting standards.

Asked whether they have any intention of ceasing to "sap other people's creativity" (this third series, they have said, will be the last), Adam answers, "Probably not - it would be bad to suddenly come up with original ideas so late in the day. Probably a lot of what we would do anyway would be referring to pop culture, because that's what we're interested in. There's so much stuff, it just seems a waste of time to come up with something new." He pauses and glances towards the window. "You know, there's such a lot of crap out there that you might as well react to before you start adding yet more."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Summer nights: ‘Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp’
TVBut what do we Brits really know about them?
Arts and Entertainment
Dr Michael Mosley is a game presenter

TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

    A nap a day could save your life

    A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
    If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

    If men are so obsessed by sex...

    ...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

    Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
    The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

    Rolling in the deep

    The bathing machine is back but with a difference
    Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

    Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

    Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory