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The Literature Issue

Lie Back and Think of England

Though America is already bored with gonzo digicam antics à la Tom Green and Jackass, Britain has yet to witness a full-scale assault on reality.
Κείμενο Chris Hatherill

Though America is already bored with gonzo digicam antics à la Tom Green and Jackass, Britain has yet to witness a full-scale assault on reality. Thanks to cheeky media graduate Mat Kirkby, England is finally going “what the fuck?” as balls-out pranksterism meets the UK’s top two exports: music and humor. It isn’t just a weaker imitation, mind; Kirkby is taking it way more serious – too serious, in fact. “I like to fuck with everyone,” he explains. “Especially the people who are in on the prank. It gives the stunt an added dimension.” In his video for Jon Carter’s “Women Beat Their Men,” he blew most of the video’s budget on a full-page ad in an actor’s trade magazine, asking for undiscovered female leads to star alongside a big-name Hollywood star, which they later hinted was Brad Pitt. As the hundreds of eager hopefuls lined up for an audition, even the poor bloke hired to act as the male part had no idea he was about to get the shit kicked out of him by a bunch of psycho wannabes intent on proving their acting skills. By the sixth or seventh beating he gathered something was up, and then, in another twist orchestrated by Kirkby, a champion female wrestler stepped onto the set… “I think we gave the guy twenty pounds or something,” laughs Kirkby. “But I’ve seen him in a few commercials, playing the Cockney gangster or whatever, so he can’t complain that we had him battered to within an inch of his life.” Ninja Tune’s Roots Manuva had the tables turned on him too, during one of Kirby’s most audacious pranks to date. “It was meant as a bit of a piss-take on all the bling-bling gangsters who ‘go back to their roots’ and ‘give something back,’ and meanwhile they’re all in limos,” says Kirkby. The idea for the “Witness” video was simple: Call a local primary school, pretend Roots had been a pupil, and organize a sports day to tie in with the track’s chorus, “witness the fitness.” On the day of the shoot, Kirkby decked out the very down-to-earth Roots in the prerequisite gold chains and hired a Ferrari (Manuva can’t even drive). To fuck things up even more, he gave the teachers childhood photos of the star and asked them to show them to a very surprised Roots, who suddenly found himself asking what was going on. Despite the mental headfuck, he went on to destroy all the other children in the three-legged race, the egg and spoon relay, and the obstacle course. By the end of the day, he had a classic unstaged video sequence as children rushed the fence next to Roots complaining bitterly about cheating and “it not being fair!” Parents complain to the faculty in the background. Though the pranks are what Kirkby enjoys most, you’ll probably hear about him first in the Guinness Book of World Records under “Most Consecutive Bikini Waxes.” “As soon as I heard the title ‘Bushes,’ I faxed off the concept. We called in the official Guinness nurse and got about 400 girls in to get it done. It was so perfect because Markus Nicolai’s original track and Fatboy Slim’s remix had that typical house thing going where it builds to a climax, so I designed the video around that. You get all the tension of the girls lying down, and most of them had never been waxed. Then as the track breaks, all hell tears loose.” Kirkby’s videos are only shown late at night on British TV.