The true Greats in comedy are those who come up with something totally unexpected. Something that seems to have no obvious influence. Chris Morris first came to our attention with The Day Today. It was an exaggeration of the TV news programs of the day. Monty Python (there I’ve said it) did mini take-offs of TV game shows/continuity indents/presenters but The Day Today was not one of a million Python echoes. What made Python different was that the creators were in the right place at the right time – the end of the anarchic surrealist 60s (and were all immensly talented) . What made Chris Morris different was the same – his luck was to be there when a load of cheap new visual techniques became available. What made D2D different from anything that came before was, among other things, the visual pyrotechnics – allowing completely over the top versions of the form over content style of modern News programs.
There were also some great charicatures. All the different types of newscaster are there – Ted Maul, the ‘this really is the end of the world as we know it’ drama king, Morris as the Hard Man Interviewer (who once started shooting up over the credits), the sexy female presenter, flirting with Morris, the clichéd clod on the sports desk – ‘And that was Liquid Football ‘– ‘Alan Partridge’ – who went on to his own mainstream infinity and beyond – as did many of those from Morris shows – always a good sign.
Brass Eye followed. This got loads of pompous ‘celebrities’ to pontificate on drugs/sex with hilarious results. How they let themselves be duped like that just goes to show how desperate ‘celebs’ are for publicity.
Then there was Jam. Nowdays – at least in the UK – there are few pure comedy series being made, it’s all ‘comedy/drama’.Everybody thinks it began with The Office. In fact it began with Jam. Which is more comic,dramatic – and disturbing – than anything since.
Since Jam, Morris has done a 6 part sitcom satire on young media hipsters –Nathan Barley – which was good and at times brilliant – especially on the meaningless jargon and styles which that tiny self-important gang came up with to set themselves apart from everyone else. But it wasn’t in the same class as what went before.
Chris Morris has influenced just about every comedian that came after him. Our current greatest comedian – Russell Brand – would not have existed in his present form if CM hadn’t existed.
(The background links are for diehards. If browsing – best clips are Cake, Paedogeddon, Chopped up Man, First Intro)
Chris Morris (born June 15, 1962, Bristol, England) is an English comedy writer, satirist and radio DJ.
Morris grew up in Cambridgeshire; both his parents were doctors. He was educated at Stonyhurst College, a Jesuit boys’ boarding school in Lancashire, and studied zoology at Bristol University
CM Top 10 Rebels
The Day Today is a surreal British parody of television current affairs programmes. It is an adaptation of the radio programme On The Hour.
Day Today — Rok TV
Day Today – Manimatronics
Day Today — Gay Desk
Brass Eye is a series of satirical spoof documentaries which aired on Channel 4 in 1997 and was re-run in 2001.The series was created by Chris Morris as a sequel to Morris’s earlier spoof news programmes On The Hour and The Day Today.
Brass Eye Cake – Made Up Drug
Brass Eye Crime
Brass Eye 2001 paedophilia special Paedogedoon
In 2001, the series was repeated, along with a new and entirely original extra show, which tackled the tricky subject of paedophilia and the associated moral panic prevalent in parts of the British media at the time following the death of Sarah Payne focused on the controversial ‘name and shame’ campaign of the News of the World. This included an incident in 2000, in which a paediatrician in Newport had the word ‘PAEDO’ daubed in yellow paint on her home.
Celebrities including Gary Lineker and Phil Collins appeared in videotaped interviews, in which they endorsed a spoof charity “Nonce Sense” (“nonce” is a common British slang term for paedophile). Tomorrow’s World presenter Philippa Forrester and ITN reporter Nicholas Owen amongst others were tricked into explaining the details of “HOECS” (pronounced “hoax”) computer games, which online paedophiles were supposed to be using to abuse children via the Internet. These fairly simple plays on words were opaque enough that none of the guest celebrities understood that they were being lampooned until the show was aired, in spite of what often seems to the viewer like plainly absurd subject matter. The Capital Radio DJ “Doctor” Neil Fox, for example, informed viewers that “paedophiles have more genes in common with crabs than they do with you and me”, before qualifying his remarks with “Now that is scientific fact – there’s no real evidence for it – but it is scientific fact”. Viewers were also told by MP Syd Rapson that paedophiles were using “an area of Internet the size of Ireland”, and by Richard Blackwood that internet paedophiles can make computer keyboards emit noxious fumes in order to subdue children (Blackwood even sniffed a keyboard and claimed to be able to smell the fumes, which he said made him feel “suggestible”).
Around 2000 complaints (and approximately 3000 calls of support) were received.There was also a vociferous tabloid campaign against Morris, who refused to discuss the issue. The episode went on to win a Broadcast magazine award .
The show caused a furor among sections of the British tabloid press. The Daily Star printed an article decrying Morris and the show next to a piece about the then 15-year-old singer Charlotte Church’s breasts under the headline “She’s a big girl now”. The Daily Mail featured pictures of Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, who were 13 and 11 at the time respectively, in their bikinis next to a headline describing Brass Eye as “Unspeakably Sick”. Defenders of the show argued that the media reaction to the show reinforced its satire of the media’s articifial hysteria and hypocrisy on the subject of paedophilia.
Blue Jam was an ambient radio comedy programme produced by Chris Morris. It aired on BBC Radio 1 in the early hours of the morning from 1997 to 1999.
The programme gained cult status due to its unique mix of surreal monologue, music, synthesised voices, heavily edited broadcasts and recurring sketches.
Blue Jam — More Conceptual Art
Jam was based on the earlier BBC Radio 1 show, Blue Jam, and consisted of a series of unsettling sketches unfolding over an ambient soundtrack.
Many of the sketches re-used the original radio soundtracks with the actors lip-synching their lines, an unusual technique which added to the programme’s unsettling atmosphere.
Jam is a sketch show like no other and the satirist’s darkest hour. Combining video, full wide screen film, distorted digital video images and even security camera footage Morris creates a twisted reality in which to tackle thought provoking issues, courting controversy and flying in the face of formulaic bland television output as he does so. Not as immediate as The Day Today or Brass Eye but ultimately more entrancing, in Morris’s own words, “It’s loneliness in the modern world, dreams of the ill in a vacuum: welcome in Jam”.
Jam — Suicide with an Escape Clause
Jam — Phone Sex Doctor
Jam — Sex for Houses
Jam — Living Outside
Jam — Spot Remover
Jam — School Competition
p.s. Hey. ** h (now j), Hi. Thank you, and you’re most welcome. ** Ferdinand, Hi. I did a post on a Leduc book. Let me find it, should it be of interest. Here. ** Thomas Moronic, Hi. It makes sense somehow that you would love the Schuyler novel too. Cool. Great news, obviously, on the start of a new novel. Such a great feeling, no? I need to start one. Rennes was good, very productive, made very good progress on Gisele’s new piece. Take care, sir. ** David Ehrenstein, Indeed. I am among the many millions who never read Chester Kallman despite his name popping ups in interesting contexts forever, and there’s obviously some kind of reason there. Exciting about your and Bill’s upcoming new photo book! Wait, it’s already out? Those were a speedy couple of weeks. Well, if you want to send me a ‘welcome’ post for it, do, and I’ll do my part. My email is: email@example.com. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hope you dig the Diarmuid tome, B. I need one of those USB turntables. Huh. Have fun doing the translating. ** Adam Martin, Hi, Adam! Thank you so much for coming in, and I’m happy to meet you. Oh, yes, your exhibition was fantastic. I remember it well. Hm, I don’t remember how I found out about the show. Likely through artist friends, perhaps even a friend or two we both know personally? That’s a guess ‘cos I’m spacing on the means of my discovery. Thank you a whole lot for the video/link. I’ll watch it greedily as soon as I’ve finished this involving p.s. thing. Well, yeah, if you want to share more or ask a question that would be a boon for me. Have a really solid weekend. ** Misanthrope, It’s hard to imagine anyone not enjoying ‘What’s for Dinner?’ but I suppose there must be people who don’t. Any development on the David thing, externally or internally? ** Max B, Hi, Max! Yes, I loved the song, and I’m excited for more, and I can be patient and wait for the official release, no problem. Thank you again for clueing us/me in. Have an excellent one. ** Bill, Hi, B! Surges I know. I really like that new Eyvind Kang. Rennes was good. Not too many stories, as we spent the time in the theater rehearsing. The new piece is Gisele’s adaptation of a Robert Walser play that he wrote as a teen, and it’s very verbose and kind of didactic, so mostly I was there to do a pretty heavy edit on the text, which I did do, and which seemed to make a big difference, and to do my dramaturg thing on the piece as a whole. It was good, it needs a bunch of work, but it’s getting there. ** cal, Hi, Cal. The house is in this ultra-pretty valley/town called Sils St. Marie, mostly where people go to ski these days. They shot that old movie ‘Heidi’ there. Impressive location to be absolutely sure. ** JM, Hi, Josiah. I miss my turntable a lot. And I have a big stack of unplayed vinyl-only releases here. And yet I can’t seem to must up the whatever to buy one. Sorry you’re a little ill, but, yes, aren’t we all a little. Excellent about your new chapbook! Obviously hit us up when that’s gettable. And I’m honored/curious to see what part ‘Frisk’ plays, very naturally. I’ve always been too wary of teaching to go there. It def. does cut into and hamper some artists’ work who go that route, for sure. I do have friends for whom it has no effect on their ambition and output, but, yeah, I’m a ‘better not to take the chance’ type, so … understood Great, healthier weekend to you, sir. ** Daniel, Hi, Daniel! Always joyous to see you. Ooh, that Ashbery thing, Wow, I had no idea that existed! Jesus, it must cost beyond a fortune now. Hopelessly want! Thank you, kind sir. You good, I really hope? ** Steve Erickson, He’s somewhat less off the radar in Europe. There was retrospective here in Paris, oh, three years ago, I think? Trip was a good, productive, which was all it needed to be. Yes, travelling here is pretty non-stressful thanks to virtually everyone following the protocols. But we all know that could turn any day or week now, so we’ll see. Traveling in the US to the South … that does not seem like a great idea whatsoever, nope. ** Okay. This weekend I restore a post from ages ago made by onetime blog d.l. JoeM about the irrepressible British artist of the comedic Chris Morris. Enjoy the show, I hope. See you on Monday.