This article originally appeared on Noisey UK. Obviously.
Over time, the term “cheeky Nando’s” has overcome things like “More tea, Vicar?”, “Gordon Bennett!” and “Jolly good show, old bean” to become the most quintessential British phrase of modern times. It evolved from something playfully uttered after marketing lectures by young and overgroomed young males at plate-glass universities to being ironically adopted by almost everyone who goes to Nando’s [US ed. note: Nando's is a Peruvian-style chicken fast food chain in the UK], before collapsing back into its primal form, until recently—like a phoenix from the flames, like a dated Ricky Gervais character dancing relentlessly and making throat noises until the audience feels inclined to pity laugh one more time—it returned to prominence thanks to how much it confused Americans. Honestly, sometimes we just finish emails to the US Noisey office, "let's get this done and then we can knock off early for a cheeky Nando's" just to drive them insane [US ed. note: This is true.].
Now, “cheeky Nandos” has been given its own likeness in digital stone with an anthem written by a London parody rap crew called the Peri Boyz, and, because British people love the term so much it will probably soon be etched onto the Cenotaph at Whitehall in place of “the glorious dead,” the video has amassed over 6 million views in 5 days across Facebook and YouTube.Continues below
Whether you find “Cheeky Nando’s“ funny or it makes you want to write a quick letter to your loved ones and then start revving the engine in the garage, you have to admit that there is something very watchable about this video. Something that makes you laugh, but awkwardly and nervously, like when your Grandad cracks a vaguely problematic joke that would not be worth challenging him on, in these, his final years. “Walk up to the till, gimme some nuts,” they rap, “Don’t want a drink, but I’ll take a cup / She says that’s for water, yeah alright / I’m a cheeky lad, so I fill it with Sprite.” Now, that’s relatable rap music.
Obviously, the video is executed with a huge throbbing tongue jammed into its cheek. It rolls in like a lad culture satire, windows down, rigid stereotypes blazing. However, it was premiered by UniLad themselves. It seems to take pops at anyone who wears Air Maxes and skinny jeans, yet it does so around unmistakable moments of genuine sincerity about the joy of being at Nandos. In fact, the more you watch it, the more it becomes hard to tell whether these people are, in fact, a parody rap crew taking the piss out of people who neck medium hot, fiddle the drinks system, actually order stuff like PERinaise, and say “Cheeky Nando’s” or, in fact, are those lads themselves.
In this modern era of PC Music, swegways, drones, bindis, and irony that goes deeper than a Siberian diamond mind, it’s hard to tell whether stuff like this is Britain’s Got Talent regional round fodder, or Central Saint Martins degree show material. So, I decided to go and meet the creator, David 'SquatLAD' Vujanic, for a chat, and even after spending half an hour with him, I still don’t understand if he is the type of guy in the video, if he’s taking the piss out of them, or if it even matters anymore. He fucking loves chicken, though. I’ll give him that.
Noisey: Hi, David. So, how has the reaction to “Cheeky Nando’s” been?
David: Pretty massive. I know a lot of people have called it “the death of the internet,” but I’ll take that as a huge compliment.
Do you love a 'cheeky Nando’s'? Or are you satirizing the people who do? Or are you trapped somewhere in between these two points, having a very public identity crisis?
You know what it is, I think I’m having an identity crisis. I mean, right now, I’m wearing the same skinny jeans I take the piss out of in the video. Those Air Maxes I point at? They are ones I own; I IDed them at Nike myself. The jokes are definitely amplified versions of the lad culture that is everywhere these days, but, honestly, who doesn’t actually love a cheeky Nando's? Do you like a cheeky Nando's?
I have eaten Nando’s.
Listen, I was born in Croatia. I was a refugee and shit—big up the refugees, yeah—anyway, deep down, we all love a cheeky Nando's.
Are you trying to say that everyone has a bit of "lad" within them, that they all trying to desperately suppress?
No. I’m saying that we are all fans of a cheeky Nando's. Lad culture itself is not something I agree with. I went to university, I saw it first hand. I never really got it; it confused me quite highly at times. As much as this video is satirizing that culture, it’s also just bigging up Nando's. I wanted to give the term an anthem—on a grime beat.
One of the guys in my office called it “the epitome of everything there is to know about British culture right now.” How do you feel about that?
I feel like he is a very smart man. There is a moment that is happening right now. Lad culture is bigger than ever, and I don’t really know how it’s happened. I guess you can look at the lad culture Facebook pages. The uni culture, the lad culture, the quick superficial six second vines about shagging a bird—it’s so easy, so easy to consume. People come back after work, they don’t want to watch a documentary, they want to watch someone make a joke about a girl getting her tits out. We—a lot of males—are having a crisis right now. We have reverted back to very primitive modes, in our bodies and mental structures. I don’t think that is positive. But at least, videos like “Cheeky Nando's” allow us to talk about these things.
It's really breaking boundaries. I actually assumed Nando's had paid for it.
Imagine! Are you hearing this Nando’s? Are you hearing this lady with the blonde hair from the marketing department? I approached them, and they wanted absolutely nothing to do with it. The marketing team were like: NO. I now realize it’s like I’ve done a free advert for them, but I don’t regret it. Sometimes, at brands like that, you’re dealing with the wrong type of person—they don’t know what people relate to. The type of person with their own opinions about things, who come from Dorchester or some shit. They don’t know what they are talking about. But, me, I actually love Nando's, I love the chicken. So… maybe we’ll work together in the future.
There’s a couple of quite sexual scenes. In one cut you’re jerking a bottle of hot sauce at crotch height, and in another you’re posing semi-nude, pouring PERinaise on yourself. Maybe that put them off?
Yeah, I guess it does get sexual. I just thought, if you look at the dictionary definition of the word “cheeky”... Actually, I don’t know what that is, but I think that visually, the definition of “cheeky” should be a guy with his top off.
For a video that clearly prides itself on low brow stereotypical lad culture, I found the camp, suggestive moments quite refreshing.
You know what, in life, we need to just be free. Let’s take it to the moon. Too many things, we just take it to the park. And that gets boring after a while. What’s wrong with a bit of homo-eroticism? Eh? Why not?
The beat on the song is quite decent. Was it hard to convince a clearly talented producer to make you a beat for a joke song about chicken?
I have to big up Rude Kid. He made it. Initially, the beat was made for an idea I had for a song about Danny Welbeck. It was going to be called “That Guy Welbz.” However, Danny Welbeck started playing really shit, and now he’s out until Christmas. So that beat ended up being used for “Cheeky Nando's.”
Do you worry that whenever you go Nando's now, with your mates or on a date, someone is going to come up to you and tap you on the back and spit these joke bars in your face? Or in 20 years time, when you’re there with your children, and a group of lads stop you and start chanting “MEDIUM HOT! CHEEKY NANDOS!” And you need to explain it to your small daughter what is going on. Do you think, then, you might regret it?
Listen, I’ve done a lot of stuff in the past that I still get called out on. This one, I’ll just accept it. Take it on the chin. I have a long chin. Maybe someone will offer to buy me a Nando's one time. And then it will be worth it.
You’ve become a whistleblower on everyone who asks for a glass for water and then nabs free refills. You’ve brought down that house of cards. How do you feel?
Personally, I think Nando's are very smart. They know this happens. When I get up to get my chicken and chips, yeah—Sam’s do it, but Nando’s do it better, eight pound—you walk up there and you go “Can I have a water?” Back in the day, they used to give you a wine glass, they were at least trying to stamp down on it. However, I do believe someone has told them, from up top: “Just give people the glass, just let them do it. Let them get away with it. Let them feel excited.” It’s the people's way of getting their free drink with their expensive meal. I urge everyone to carry on getting their Sprite for free.
I feel like you’re chalking up some sort of weird political chicken joint manifesto here. Was this not all just a shameless bid to get a Nando's Black Card?
I’m not gonna lie, one of my end goals was definitely a Black Card. I wanted to do the video, with high production value, tongue-in-cheek and, hopefully, Nando's will give me a black card, but that didn’t happen. I don’t think it is going to happen.
You never know. Finally, what else you doing, David? What else you got going on?
I will carry on trying to take trends and make fun out of them. Going viral is fun. It’s a nice feeling. But my message to everyone out there, is do what you love doing, and the energy you put out into the universe will come back to you in different ways. This was just a bit of fun, but you will keep seeing me around the internet.