Reviewer: Simon Topping
Richard Ayoade, known for his various award-winning comedy roles in Garth Marenghi, The IT Crowd and The Mighty Boosh as well as his presenting work on The Crystal Maze and Travel Man, is here to talk about movies with BBC and Guardian film critic, Mark Kermode.
Director of two very successful features, Submarine and The Double, Ayoade first talks about an unsung 1980’s action thriller close to the performer’s heart, Road House, starring Patrick Swayze. In the story, Swayze plays a bouncer and sorts his problems out with extreme violence. “In the small genre of doorman films this is probably the best”, Ayoade assures the crowd wryly. We are treated to a couple of clips, which obviously confirm the comedian’s point of view as we see the lead protagonist dispatch several bad guys applying brutal force in the three-minute trailer; the tagline reveals the hero is “The best friend a good time ever had!” This is 1980’s cheese at its finest and is received with howls of laughter from the gathering.
From this Kermode leads onto Ayoade’s latest book, The Grip of Film, written by a comedy creation called Gordy Lasure. The book is a guide to how the world of film works from the point of view of a deconstructed action-film loving fool; the sort of man that thinks gravitas can be achieved in any scene by the lead character squinting his eyes and whispering his lines (see Clint Eastwood or Bruce Willis).
Ayoade is the most self-effacing person you could ever wish to meet or witness in conversation; extremely quick-witted, constantly subversive and always a gentleman. When asked if he has regretted not taking a project that later went on to become a success he simply states, “I feel any project benefits from not having me in it”. Not so of the films he has directed: the audience is shown clips of both Submarine and The Double, both of which are wonderfully styled and compelling stories, albeit in very different ways. Ayoade reveals some of his inspirations which include Buster Keaton, Taxi Driver, Orson Wells and French New wave cinema, which he admits he only started watching to improve his schoolboy French.
Kermode is a perfect interviewer. Very knowledgeable and engaged in his subject, he nevertheless allows his interviewee to speak fully and run with his train of thought. They make a great double act to watch and the conversation is always funny, interesting and erudite.
The end quarter of the chat opens up to questions to the crowd. A question which raises particular laughter in the room is when a small boy in a jaunty hat asks whether there are any more films in the making. In true self-deprecating manner, Ayoade says “You’re right to accuse me of laziness.” The tent erupts in laughter once more. It turns out there is something in the pipeline but only 96 pages. The gathering is hoping this turns out to be his third offering.
As we come to a close Ayoade posits a three-film action series with Paddy Considine as the lead. Now that’s an intriguing prospect! We wait with baited breath to see what this talented comedian will do next but for now, at least, we have shared a couple of entertaining moments in his presence, which is an unqualified delight.