Joe, Adam and the Ant-man

In search of witty banter and inexhaustible innovation? Then you should check out the duo who brought ‘Song Wars’ to the world, says Rob Sharp

We are at the Summer Sundae festival in rainy Leicester, and two DJs are packed within the walls of a tiny mobile studio resembling a cross between a caravan and a space ship to talk their way through three hours of broadcast time. They sound remarkably similar, finish each others’s sentences, and are the most criminally-underrated talent on British radio.

Their names are Adam Buxton and Joe Cornish, whose cult appearances on Channel 4 in the 1990s won them a loyal, if select fan base. Now, thanks to an award-winning radio show on BBC 6 Music, live gigs on the festival circuit and a pervasive online presence, they are enjoying the attentions of a whole new audience who appreciate their witty banter and inexhaustible innovation.

One of the highlights of the pair’s show is an item called “Song Wars”, in which Adam and Joe each compose a spoof song based on a different topic – a new Bond theme, say, or a pastiche of Kate Nash – and the listeners vote on their favourite. One of these, Adam’s “The Festival Song” – in which some middle class friends discuss a trip to a festival – has enjoyed one of the highest profiles. “It’s a wonder Cornbury, the Big Chill and the rest haven’t cancelled out of sheer embarrassment,” wrote James Delingpole in The Sunday Times in June.

Adam performed a stand-up set at the Big Chill festival earlier this month. “I saw the Big Chill had put in their programme that the festival song was deadly accurate, but they took it in good spirit,” he says. “It was written about people like us and our friends who are over the idea of going to a festival and getting filthy. The idea of going in relative comfort to a nice boutique festival – where no one gets too dirty, and your tent doesn’t get stolen, and no one gets beaten up – gets more attractive the older you get.”

Adam and Joe met at Westminster School in the 1980s, united by a love of Eddie Murphy, Robin Williams, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. After brief periods at university, they answered an ad in the New Musical Express inviting members of the public to submit video sketches for a comedy talent show.



Dr Buckles performing 'Middle Class Festival Song' in the Hub Tent at the Summer Sundae Festival in Leicester

The result was Takeover TV, which led to The Adam and Joe Show on Channel 4, a mixture of jaunty sketches and talking-puppet-versions of Hollywood movies. They signed to 6 Music last August, and won this year’s Broadcasting Press Guild radio programme of the year.

Now, fans of the show include James Bond composer David Arnold – who recently telephoned Joe to compliment him on his “Song Wars” theme for the forthcoming Bond film, Quantum of Solace – the Pixies’ ex-frontman Frank Black, and the Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood. The latter said that one of Joe’s songs was so entrenched in his head that it made him lose his place during a gig.

As well as the show, they also pursue their own projects. Adam’s pilot for MeeBOX, a fast-paced series of skits loosely based around the look of YouTube, was sadly not commissioned by the BBC. “Apart from not actually getting commissioned, I was very happy about all of it,” Adam says. “I’d sort of been doing the contents of the show for a couple of years and putting them on the internet. So I was pretty happy that it all sort of worked. But from BBC 3’s point of view, it wasn’t the kind of show that they are making there anymore and it just didn’t feel right for them.”

Joe is splitting his time between London and Los Angeles, collaborating with Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright as co-writer on a feature film adaptation of the Marvel Comics character Ant-Man. “It’s fantastic, though I haven’t quite worked out what my position is to being over there,” he explains. “Ricky Gervais always goes on about how brilliant it is. I bumped into Russell Brand this week at Heathrow, and when he went to buy something the place was buzzing. Kids looked like they’d met Father Christmas. It was like he’d sprinkled celebrity dust in his wake.”

They feel more relaxed about things than they did when they were younger. “If you are like, ‘Jesus Christ, you know we’ve got a chance here; you can’t drop the ball. Don’t mess up, know what I mean? This is your big break now,’ it’s no good,” says Adam. “And we’ve had so many big breaks that have come and gone – now we’ve relaxed in a much more enjoyable way.

“You really see it with a stand-up comedian. I always remember watching Stewart Lee when he was young and very vain and he had his hair teased over his head. And I enjoyed it much less than I do now where he clearly doesn’t care less. If a stand-up comedian is nervous and uptight it infects the whole crowd immediately and you can hear that on the radio as well.”

Given that television’s commissioning editors seem unfairly lacking in interest in their talent, what now? “I’m not sure there’s much further we could go really than doing this,” Joe says. “Possibly go to a bigger radio station with a bigger audience. We’re never going to be like Jo Wiley and Zane Lowe. We’d just say something terrible. It’s hard enough doing it just once a week. It’s a full-time job to just do that one thing and really nail it.

“I think, to be a really successful presenter, you have to know how to lie well, or to do what your bosses tell you to do to promote the other shows on the station. It is dangerous not to do that, and stupid, and bad for your career. We go out of our way not to. So you try and be honest about stuff, and then you open up a huge yawning chasm of doom.”

T o see the lyrics of Adam Buxton’s “Festival Song” go to www.independent.co.uk/media

Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
Extras
indybestFake it with 10 best self-tanners
Sport
Peter Moores was criticised for failing to handle top players when he last led the England team
sportFive years after being sacked from the job, Peter Moores to be named a cricket coach
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Sport
Steven Gerrard had to be talked into adopting a deeper role by his manager, Brendan Rodgers
sportThe city’s fight for justice after Hillsborough is embodied in Steven Gerrard, who's poised to lead his club to a remarkable triumph
News
The energy drink MosKa was banned for containing a heavy dose of the popular erectile dysfunction Levitra
news
Environment
People are buying increasing numbers of plants such as lavender to aid the insects
environmentGardeners rally round the endangered bumblebee
News
Ida Beate Loken has been living at the foot of a mountain since May
newsNorwegian gives up home comforts for a cave
Extras
indybest10 best gardening gloves
Sport
Australia's Dylan Tombides competes for the ball with Adal Matar of Kuwait during the AFC U-22 Championship Group C match in January
sportDylan Tombides was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011
Arts & Entertainment
tvIt might all be getting a bit much, but this is still the some of the finest TV ever made, says Grace Dent
News
Posted at the end of March, this tweeted photo was a week off the end of their Broadway shows
people
News
peopleStar to remain in hospital for up to 27 days to get over allergic reaction
Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Online Advertising Account Executive , St Pauls , London

£26K-30k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...

Advertising Account Executive - Online, Central London

£25K-28k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...

NGO and Community Development in Cambodia

Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: There are many small development projects in ...

Business, Marketing and Tourism Volunteer Projects

Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: As part of an ongoing effort to support local...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit