A couple of Tossers | nterview with Modern Toss creators Mick Bunnage and Jon Link

A couple of Tossers

nterview with Modern Toss creators Mick Bunnage and Jon Link

Channel 4 launches its deliberately offensive mix of animation and live-action sketches, Modern Toss, on July 11. Based on the foul-mouthed cult comic and website of the same name, Modern Toss was part of 2005’s Comedy Lab season, and has now been picked up for a six-part series Here, in a Q&A rife with strong language, its creators Mick Bunnage and Jon Link explain how the show came to air.

How did you guys meet?

We worked in the same room on a magazine.

Where did the idea for Modern Toss come from?

We used the idea of being fed up with working for other people and turned it into a comic.

How did it develop?

We put some Mr Tourette cartoons on our own website Shitflap.com in 2003, and just kept adding a few every month - "Peter's Bollocks" was the first one. About a year later we put it all in a comic and called it "Modern Toss". Then we took it to the ICA in a big box and a bloke there bought a load of them. After that we made another one and Waterstones rung us up and said do you want to make a book of it? They said give Macmillans a ring. We did that and they put a flat edge on the side of it (known as a "spine" in the book trade). After that [street artist] Banksy's poster company rang up and said do you want to make some posters of it, and will Mr Tourette do a sign for their exhibition shop window? Once again we said yes, and the words "STINKING ART PISS" were removed by Westminster council two hours later. After that came out some TV bloke rang us up and said "Do you want to make a TV version of it," we said "Alright", so that's where we are. The critics liked it because it didn’t look like it came from TV Land

What's your inspiration for the characters?

We watch people arguing then we boil it down to about three words. A lot of it's about people doing jobs reluctantly. Fuck knows what the rest of it’s about.

Why did you decide to make it a mixture of live action and animation?

It’s something to do with the pleasure of seeing a shitty little scribble invading a sitcom. We really like Sesame Street, where they use live stuff and animation separately. We thought it’d be good to join the two together to maximise the stupidity. We do something like it on the back cover of our comics. If everyone had a massive pink round head shaped like boxing glove we wouldn’t have to bother.

Can either of you actually draw?

It’s not important. Our cartoons are more like diagrams than drawings.

Do you work hard, or is it moments of creative genius interspersed among days of sitting around?

No, it's piss easy.

How did you round up the cast?

Our producer Jane Harrison rang up some fat people we saw in a book. Paul ‘Lettuce Man’ Rose was a real find. He sent us a letter afterwards saying he’d had a really nice day out. Mackenzie Crook has been into the comics for a while. We thought we’d team him up with Paul Kaye for the Flytalk voices. They also did the stroppy astronauts in ‘Space Argument’. Simon Greenall is the best in the business at making animal noises sound like a real language, so we got him in for Mr Tourette. Some people think the result sounds a bit French, but ask a Frenchman and he’ll tell you its drivel. We wanted a voice of authority- so we got Doon Mackichan to say “Modern Toss: The Stink of Excellence in A World Gone Tits Up”. She seemed quite happy with that. We just managed to catch Ralph Brown for the voice of ‘Alan’ before he went off to be filmed hitting Wesley Snipes with a stick in Bulgaria.

What was it like working with Mackenzie Crook?

Good for us but probably not good for him. We stuck him in a booth with Paul Kaye who had bird flu or something at the time. He was in a right old state. You can hear the results in one of the Flytalk sketches where he coughs in his face. Naturally they were both thoroughly professional about it all. During his two day recording commitment to Modern Toss Kaye not only got flu but also snapped a rib and bust his nose.

Do you ever worry you might have gone too far with something?

The further we go the better it seems to get.

How do your older relatives cope with the offensive nature of your work?

A lot of old people really like it, especially the swearing. One old lady we met at a posh publishing party claimed to have invented swearing in the sixties. She called us a pair of cunts.

Did you enjoy directing the series?

We directed the animation. We’ve never done anything like that before so we read a book about it and got in the superbly gifted Ben Wheatley to direct the live action. Ben has a lot of experience in blowing things up and filming it from a distance. He didn’t seem bothered either that we didn’t have a script.

You were voted the fourth funniest people in Britain by Esquire magazine – was that a surprise?

Yeah we thought it was a mistake.

Does your stuff sell much overseas, or is it a specifically British sense of humour?

The Modern Toss book is coming out in America at the moment so we’ll find out in a couple of weeks. They’ve already asked us to take the word WHORE off the cover. There’s also a Dutch language version coming out later this year.

First published:June 30, 2006

Published: 22 Mar 2009

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