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."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmWith comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Off set: Bab El Hara
tvTV series are being filmed outside the country, but the influence of the regime is still being felt
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rhino Doodle by Jim Carter (Downton Abbey)

TV
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film

film
Arts and Entertainment
Comedian 'Weird Al' Yankovic

Is the comedy album making a comeback?

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in the first-look Fifty Shades of Grey movie still

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, centre, are up for Best Female TV Comic for their presenting quips on The Great British Bake Off

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

film
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

film
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

film
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

books
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

    A new Russian revolution

    Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
    Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
    Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

    Standing my ground

    If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
    Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

    Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

    The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
    The man who dared to go on holiday

    The man who dared to go on holiday

    New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

    For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
    The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

    The Guest List 2014

    Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
    Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

    Jokes on Hollywood

    With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
    It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

    It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

    Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
    Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

    Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

    Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
    Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

    Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

    Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
    Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

    Edinburgh Fringe 2014

    The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
    Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

    Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

    The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried