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Nice Quirk If You Can Get It
He’s starred in The IT Crowd, been in The Mighty Boosh, won awards for his music videos, counts Noel Fielding and Alex Turner among his close friends and has directed one of the most brilliant indie films of recent memory, the hilarious and quirky Submarine. And yet, Richard Ayoade assures Roe McDermott that he’s not cool. Eh, we may have to agree to disagree on that one…
Roe McDermott, 14 Mar 2011
Though sporting thick glasses and his trademark hip-Grampa garb of skinny jeans, a shirt and blazer, Richard Ayoade looks much younger than his 33 years. And as he curls into the corner of a couch and hesitantly, though ever so politely, answers all my questions with self-effacing deflections, I begin to feel like the aunt of a very well-behaved, soft-spoken teenager who knows he must suffer through the inevitable “and what are you going to do for your summer holidays?” questions before quietly excusing himself to the back room to watch TV.
Over to promote his first feature film Submarine, a gorgeous and quirky adaptation of Joe Dunthorne’s novel, Ayoade has officially made the seamless transition from comedy actor to acclaimed director. Had he harboured these career aspirations for a while?
“I probably would have wanted to be in a band really, more than anything. Everyone wants to be in band, don’t they?”
Does he sing?
Does he play anything?
Is he good?
“Well,” he concedes, “I’m better than Noel Gallagher… but then, everyone is better than Noel Gallagher.”
But though he may never have played lead guitar in a successful band, he got to boss one around, which might just be even cooler. “Through happenstance” Ayoade was asked to direct the music video for Arctic Monkeys’ ‘Fluorescent Adolescent,’ and his debut foray into directing was nominated for the inaugural UK Music Video Awards. But of course, Richard is sure that that wasn’t due to any talent on his part.
“The song was just so good, it made it easy to connect to whatever visuals I put on it, it could have been finger-painting,” he muses.
He’s similarly dismissive of being elected president of the famous Footlights theatre club during his college years, whose alumni include stars such as John Cleese, Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Emma Thompson, David Mitchell and Robert Webb.
“Yeah, it used to be very good,” he admits when faced with this list of comic geniuses, before immediately retreating into his self-effacing default setting. “But see, there was a dip in our year, which then got better again. After I left. It just so happened that there weren’t very many people who were doing it in my year, statistically that’s the case. I think the only other person who did comedy in my year was John Oliver who does The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and so I got to take over, and we got to do some generally sub-standard Chris Morris-style stuff, but in a theatre context, which was ill-advised.”