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."

News

literature

News
Dermot O'Leary attends the X Factor Wembley Arena auditions at Wembley on August 1, 2014 in London, England.

television

News
news
Arts and Entertainment
At this year's SXSW festival in Austin, Texas

Music Why this music festival is still the place to spot the next big thing

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished
tvReview: The latest episode was a smidgen less depressing... but it’s hardly a bonza beach party
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfall

Mexican government reportedly paying Bond producers for positive portrayal in new filmfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Disney’s flying baby elephant is set to return in live-action format
filmWith sequels, prequels and spin-offs, Disney plays it safe... and makes a pachyderm
Arts and Entertainment
Nazrin with Syf, Camden
photography
News
The QI Elves photographed at the Soho Theatre. They are part of a team of researchers who find facts for the television programme 'QI'.
people
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv0-star review: Sean O'Grady gives it his best shot anyway
  • Get to the point
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.

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss