Guest critic and part time miniaturist head-based hedge grower Richard Ayoade weighs in with a sometimes scathing, often snarky, but ultimately totally and unavoidably biased and self-congratulatory ‘think’ piece on his own introspective surrealist (semi)fictional autobiography, Ayoade On Ayoade: A Cinematic Odyssey. What follows is an overbearingly analytical self-reflective (much abridged) review of an interview with the man himself, conducted by the man himself. As the title has forewarned, this is Richard Ayoade on Ayoade On Ayoade – a review of a book about Richard Ayoade which was written by Richard Ayoade, by Richard Ayoade. TB, signing off. Enter, Ayoade.
“Life’s a beach!” – Ayoade, Date Unknown
Having both read and written the farcical film based genre-transcending book Ayoade On Ayoade: A Cinematic Odyssey, I count myself among the leading authorities on the book’s subject, he being me, and the book’s subject’s work, that labor being the films and television episodes which I have myself written, written myself into, subsequently appeared in, appeared on the cover of the DVD of, directed or – failing to secure a coveted directorial or assistant directorial position for a low grade but inexplicably popular sitcom with few memorable lines compared to a situational based comedy such as say, Seinfeld (seminal not only for its consistent hilarity but also its touching everyday ‘relatableness’)– appealed in numerous mediums – including brail and avant garde puppeteering – to the show’s producers to at least let me sit in on during editing sessions. Oh yes, and completed press tours for.
So, now without further to do (see footnote #1), here is my take on Ayoade on Ayoade: A Cinematic Odyssey as I perceive it through my own high-brow esoteric point of view, straight from the horse’s Dictaphone and written by his secretary. A note on the asides within brackets: these were not added in post. Ayoade has a special motion tracking device inside his hair which alerts the tape recorder each time his head is tilted back quizzically and slightly to the left. The signal alters the pitch of Ayoade’s voice, indicating to the transcriber which words are to be bracketed.
Any honest review of a book about the films made by a certain filmmaker must first address those very films. Those nuggets of celluloid or digital that bring us such joy, and which without we would surely perish. Personally I have seen all two of my films at least once (just once). Hold on, I’ve uttered an untruth there. I’ve actually seen one of my films twice, back to back, in a double-bill. Or a quadruple-bill, if you will, as it was of my second film, The Double. I liked it better the first time round.
Considine is… The Replicator (The Double, Ayoade: 2013)
Submarine was an acceptable debut, but the desperately meager budget did not provide for full sized military submersibles – a bitter blow, which haunts me in periscopic nightmares several times a day. Nevertheless, sometime between now and Sean Connery’s death I intend to write and shoot the much anticipated sequel to The Hunt for Red October (starring Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin), which has been unofficially christened with the name “Open Autumnal Season: Hunter becomes Hunted – The Red October Strikes Back”.
If that sounds brilliantly original to you, that’s because it quite frankly is. If you don’t think it does sound like that, then you’re listening at too low a volume and should crank this right the way up. Oh right, but you’re reading it , aren’t you? Unless you’re my second favourite assistant, in which case you are hearing it as you’re doing the transcribing job. If you can hear me, Maldiva, excise the last three sentences, including this one, from the final copy.
Of all the wonderful elements in my movie Submarine, probably the best was the acting performance given by stalwart Shane Meadows collaborator Paddy Considine. This infuriates me no end, as I hadn’t written him into the film at all. As my family friend, best man, adopted-brother, and legal advisor he tends to accompany me absolutely everywhere, often serving as Script Supervisor on my busier sets such as when I co-directed one scene of Nannageddon from series (or season, for you traitorous yanks) two (or 2, for you mathematically illiterate Native American murderers) of The Mighty Boosh.
BTS: Paddy Considine pre-psychotic breakdown on Submarine (Ayoade: 2010)
On this occasion, however, well regarded English actor Paddy Considine – a key member of the ‘Wagon Wheel Multi-Pack’, Britain’s answer to the Rat, Brat, Frat, and Snack packs of the United States– had a full blown major scale meltdown. Once he’d been mopped up from the floor and rematerialsed into physical from, he proceeded to loon about the Submarine set like a deranged Mystic Meg (or Mystic Greg!) type. As a convicted arsonist, his threatening to relapse posed a genuine risk to the safety of the younger actors, and I had no choice but to let him be in the film while also assuming the role of chief pyrotechnics overseer (the pyrotechnics: another part of my movie that I didn’t write). But the performance is what counts, and it’s there on screen now for future generations to enjoy, laugh at, but eventually and inevitably recoil in horror from.
That was, in a short few words, a concise summary of film (Pana)visionary Ayoade’s works so far. Finding his/my achievements in the business of make-pretend not satisfactory, Ayoade decided to write a book. A gift, from he to the fans. An invitation of intimacy. Opening up the Ayoade to the Ayoadeanites, like the grand unveiling of a ‘Pristine Preserved Corpses’ exhibition in the town cave of a community of outcast necrophiliacs. All well and good in principle, but remember that the opinions of the unwashed masses count for nought if Ayoade does not approve. Does he? Do I? Do we? Do who? Just what does Ayoade think… about Ayoade On Ayoade: A Cinematic Odyssey?
Happily, Ayoade On Ayoade is a self-critical success on all accounts. The work is 307 pages long but, for practical purposes, the publishers have elected to print it in the form of a bound book. Those 307 pages do not account for the prologue, pre-prologue, epilogue, or logging almanacs, nor the cover bookending it, nor indeed the cover bookbeginning it. Numberless they may be, but on these unlisted ‘mystery’ pages readers can relish in a melange of witty remarks, cutting – nay, gouging – insights into the film industry, humorous recollections, and priceless anecdotes about the golden era (the third one) of British sit-coms.
Of course, they do have a price tag (of £9.99), but the expression has been used here to impress upon the reader the sheer cultural value of the book and the stories, reviews, email exchanges, notations, and ‘spaces for notes’ contained therein. Within Ayoade On Ayoade, Ayoade not only deconstructs the form – he then reconstructs it, without the emergency stairwells. World heritage material, I think you’ll agree. I know I did, and I hardly ever see eye to eye with myself unless I’ve got a mirror to hand.
And that’s exactly how I conducted these interviews, incidentally. How can one interview oneself but in the eerily lag-free reflection of one’s bathroom looking glass? Well I looked, let me tell you. I looked, I spoke, I recorded, and I cried. I queried, I responded, I questioned, I answered, I quarrelled, I agreed to disagree, and I edited out the bits of me crying. Was it me though? Or was it Ayoade, that not-quite extant figure whose witticisms and wisdoms are to the public like so many precious geological jewels? And if it was him, then who the hell is he, this so called God of the Geeks? Deep down I suspect that Ayoade is but another figment of my blisteringly lucid imagination, and it was with that fear in mind that I set out to produce this deeply personal exploration of a life’s work – a working life, yes, but not ‘work’ in the restrictive codification assigned to it by the Oxford dictionary; for my work is my life, and I could not be more grateful for that gift.
My (Ayoade’s) face when they don’t know RAM is memory
In essence, this book is my: “I write a book about myself interviewing myself, therefore I am”, the perfect gracenote to end the first quarter of my filmmaking career. And I can tell you right now, Quibble readers, that it’s worth a damn sight more than a measly £9.99. I had promised Tom Bruce complimentary copies of Ayoade On Ayoade for the first three people to leave a 2,500 word comment in response to the cue: “Name your favourite episode of the IT Crowd, and explain why in explicit detail (do not mention the name of the show’s creator/writer, we’ve had a falling out)”, but when I discovered that Mr Bruce hadn’t even bought two copies so that he could pen his notes in one and keep the other on display , I instantly rescinded my admittedly overzealous gesture of charity. Please do leave your IT Crowd analyses anyway, as they’re always appreciated. I love being reminded that I earned my fortune and only BAFTA by portraying a computer technician in a canned laughter sitcom that ran (intermittently) from 2006-2013.
– Yours continually unfaithfully, Richard Ayoade (One time BAFTA Winner)(One time BAFTA Loser)
“Always lie to yourself. It’s the only way to get through!” – Ayoade, 1996
P(ost) S(cript): I was paid £90 plus a BLT (Bread, Lettuce & Tomato-ketchup sandwich) to write this piece about me and it only took me twenty minutes! Lady Fame is a giving lover.
Directed, written, and edited by Richard Ayoade (& Co).
Executive producer Ben Stiller (The Watch, 2012).
A Film 4 and British National Lotto production.
All picture credits go to the relevant rights holders – you know who you are.
(1)Richard Ayoade has achieved all of his life’s primary, secondary, and tertiary goals, set by himself at the age of fourteen after surviving a prolonged walk in some sparse woods in York when he forgot his knapsack of Sunny D(for Delight) and babybels and thought he might die from exposure after spending several hours outdoors without juice and then realising – upon collapsing at a BP oil(2) vehicular refuelling station – the terrifying and pathetic fragility of human life. Having checked off every item on his ‘Things Richard Ayoade must do as soon as possible lest he accidentally stumble or be shunted from off the ledge of this mortal coil prior to reaching his ideal life-span of 135 (which would, he predicts, be long enough to see Mars colonised and shoot a film there)’(3) , Richard Ayoade has literally nothing else to do with his time. A raging workaholic, he is now panicking (4) and has taken to accepting any and all comers for paid assignments, which includes this special editorial on the WordPress blog Movie Quibble, requested by Tom Bruce over the social networking website Twitter. Ayoade accepted on the third, grovelling appeal (5).
Ayoade accepting a BAFTA, before he was banned from the BAFTAs (consult footnote #3)
(2) Following the BP oil frack-as, Ayoade refutes this detail of the factual story even though nobody would retrospectively condemn him for his historical visit to a petrol pump house established and profited from by a greedy and environmentally destructive corporation, when he was in fact on the point of death and had to be resuscitated with an ice cold Solero on his for’ed. Nevertheless, the elusive director and self-critical critic claims ignorance w/r/t this encounter with the ostensibly morally ambivalent natural resources giant.
Ayoade catching some rays with Noel, his bladder.
(3) Ayoade’s Sci-Fi denial is one of his most bizarre and widely publicised film-related affectations. He simply refuses to acknowledge any motion pictures that are set any distance further away from planet Earth than human beings have thus far traveled. This seriously limits the figurative library of his filmic mind, cutting him off from an entire genre of movies enjoyed by the entire rest of the world’s population. Not having seen The Martian (2015) directed by Ridley Scott, for example, and his persistence in aggressively asserting that it is not a film which exists, has seen him barred from all major events of the 2015/2016 movie awards season.
Ayoade’s aversion to aliens also means that he has never seen – nor, he claims, heard of – the Star Wars saga, despite the fact that the film series’ operatically fictional bent would place it more in Fantasy territory, an area of film on which Ayoade could be considered master cartographer. Interestingly, the magnanimous subtitle for Ayoade’s Ayoade On Ayoade book, ‘A Cinematic Odyssey’, seems to draw directly from the same wording well as Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. As with those pictures aforementioned, Ayoade denies its very material reality and pretends not to notice any questions posed to him about said film or the striking similarity that the secondary title of his literary self-portrait bears to its name. “Everyone has read the Odyssey”, says Ayoade. “I read it when I was three. And I was deaf, dumb, and blind until the age of five”.
Ayoade leaves Krishnan Guru-Murthy’s television presenting career in ruins.
Ayoade watches on.
(4) Ayoade is an admirer of Woody Allen (he is more fond of him than any other student, but he likes to give all his pupils hearty encouragement and tries his damndest to instill them with self-loathing and drug dependency, two things which will be essential to their survival when they flap out from ‘neath the protective wing of The Ayoade School for Budding Paul Thomas Andersons and Reg’lar Werzer Herzogs, Over Here! and off into the treacherous Wood of Holly).
One of Allen’s most famous quotes goes:
“I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve immortality by not dying”.
This characterises the writer/director’s sense of humour nicely, giving you a look in at the contents of the fuel tank of his creative chassis – the man is petrified of the eternal abyss that awaits us all and, rather than loll about in the languor of his permanent existential funk, he works.
Ayoade has a different approach:
“I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I’d rather not work at all, and in fact wish I’d never been born. Eternity doesn’t last forever, anyway… does it? Can it?” – Richard Ayoade, Norway 2014, excerpt from lecture three of his two-semester series on metaphysicality in Toy Story, Toy Story 2, and Toy Story 3, called “Can Art Surpass Infinity & If Not How in Heck Can a Toy?”
Another picture of Ayoade, this time on Countdown which he won.
(5) Proof of the tweets leading up to Richard Ayoade’s accepting of the opportunity to write this blog on this blog:
This aggressive tack didn’t do the trick, so I went back to asking politely…
… and it worked! However, the answer was a no, and further communications were made impossible when Ayoade had an embarrassing public breakdown on Radio 4’s live general knowledge based quiz show, IQholics, whereafter his Twitter account went into lockdown. Weeks later he bounced back into the online sphere under his original Twitter account name, and I was quick to latch onto him once again:
After ten minutes of Ayoade coming back online, my Ayoaradar-e pinged me to his presence. I ‘followed’ him without hesitation, like a bearded Jerusalemite being offered a new and exciting way of life – and hallucinogenics – by a strange fortune teller whilst out pulling netfulls of kippers onto the beach head.
Ayoade was pleased. Below, you can read the full exchange.
Sole of Footnotes
Here you can read Ayoade* engaging in a series of non-real time intellectual dogfights with the formidable (Well)Re(a)d Baron himself, Richard Ayoade. These scribblings** were made in response to Ayoade’s demand that readers answer his questions about himself. Whether by ‘readers’ he also meant to include himself is unknown, but who knows?
*Ignore the uncharacteristically light pigmentation of Ayoade’s digits in the pictures below. The were taken at a funny angle.
**These scribblings will make no sense to non-Ayoadean scholars. You are advised to scroll no further until you have gone to Waterston’s (or some such), purchased two copies of Ayoade On Ayoade: A Cinematic Odyssey, consumed one and written out the other.
A.R & T.B, over, out, off, and away.