Interview with the Harris

Here’s an interview I did with Aimee and John Louis from late, lamented, really late zine Making It Look Accidental. It’s an old interview, but then I’m quite old too so it’s still relevant.



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Jack Handey

I am currently very much enjoying Jack Handey. He may sound like a euphemism for male masturbation, but he is funnier than that.

The plan isn’t foolproof. For it to work, certain things must happen:
—The door to the vault must have accidentally been left open by the cleaning woman.
—The guard must bend over to tie his shoes and somehow he gets all the shoelaces tied together. He can’t get them apart, so he takes out his gun and shoots all his bullets at the knot. But he misses. Then he just lies down on the floor and goes to sleep.
—Most of the customers in the bank must happen to be wearing Nixon masks, so when we come in wearing our Nixon masks it doesn’t alarm anyone.

From The Plan by Jack Handey

Jack Handey’s Deep Thoughts

Jesting About

Hoorah! I got selected to develop some ideas for online comedy with the BBC. I could play it cool, like, “sure, that’s nice” but I have to say I am beyond chuffed about this.

There’s a press release on the BBC website*.

The basic gist is: the BBC hands over some money and I work up the three pitches I submitted (one live action dingus – Doorsteppers – and two animated thingummies – The Answer Yam and The World of the World with Ben Klimmek) and hopefully come up with a few more. From what I can gather, I have to produce three minutes of something by the end of April. Wonder what it’ll be? Can’t wait to find out. Hope it’s good…

It was interesting when I got the call to say I’d been accepted ‘cos I couldn’t exactly remember what I’d pitched. I’d got the deadline so totally wrong that all three pitch documents had to be written and submitted in around three hours. Which meant Ben had to generate the art super-quick. Bet he was pleased. He looked pleased. Welcome to the world of working with Harris, Klimmek. It’s all part of my charm. Unreliability is charming, right?

Here’s a Klimmek pic from The Answer Yam pitch. Grand!

*this got me a mention on Chortle – which I didn’t realise was a bit of a dream come true until it happened.

James Harris says…

Oh God. Teesside art, culture and budgerigars zine Making It Look Accidental issue 2 launches tonight and there’s an interview with me in it. Criminy! Way to alienate your key demographic. I really was in a tetchy mood that day.

The rest of the zine, incidentally, is brilliant. Funny, rude, life-affirming stuff. Buy it! Read it! Just remember that when I talk about the human race, I’m probably not referring to you.

Get both issues of Making It Look Accidental here.

I’m James

Illustration hurriedly scrawled for issue 2 of Making It Look Accidental, Middlesbrough’s latest zine, which launches at 7pm on Friday 22nd October at Writers’ Block on Albert Road. I’m interviewed in it. I seem to remember I was in a bit of a grump that day, so if I happened to, say, wish death on the whole of the human race during the course of the interview, and I’m not saying I did, but if I did, I take it back. A lot of you I wouldn’t even want to see maimed.

I’ll be doing a “turn” at the launch, maybe a reading or some jokes, or… dunno what exactly, but maybe see you there? Unless my wish comes true, of course. Apologies in advance if it does.

“52 Takes” Harris

So here’s me in a recording studio in Wootton Bassett doing ADR for the short film Pleasure Droid 3000 and earning the nickname James “52 Takes” Harris. (I also got James “Cock” Harris, but I’m not sure why.)

ADR stands for Automatic Dialogue Replacement – basically redubbing the lines you said while shooting the film. Often you’ll only be doing one or two lines, maybe ‘cos the sound went funny on set, maybe cos you didn’t say them properly, but for Pleasure Droid the whole lot had to be redone because we shot in an Infinity Room, a big, white room with no corners, which looked great but meant all the sound was really, really echoey.

It took 3 hours of standing in that booth to record the, oh, 11 or so lines I have in the film. Over, and over, and over again. Cos first you have to get the rhythm right, make sure you’re saying the words in time with the flapping lips of your past self. And then you have to try and do it like you’re acting, giving a performance, even though you’re stuck in a soundproof booth while the writer and director are saying things like: “more wistful, but with higher energy, like you’re talking to yourself, but could you project more?” or “yes, just like that but less shit”.

I had to say “Ah, the Pleasure Droid 3000. Excellent choice. So much more than a sex toy,” fifty two times, which apparently was some kind of record for the studio.

Stephen Scott-Hayward (writer, pest): Do it again, but could you be more bright on the “yeah”?
James: More bright on the “yeah”. Right.
Stephen: And less gay. Could you try not thinking about cock when you’re saying it?
James: (to the sound recordist): Alex, do you have a cunt filter on the mixing desk? I’m getting a lot of cunt in my cans.
Alex: …no-one’s ever said that in here before…