They aren’t going to arouse my intellect. They won’t be enriching my mind with poignant reflections on the human condition.
These are thoughts going through my head as I think about what to ask Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, the amiable stars of Shaun of the Dead (2004), Hot Fuzz (2007) and now The World’s End (read my review of the film here and watch my 4D interview with director Edgar Wright here).
The British man-boys are known for their wacky comedies, buddy buddy camaraderie and death-by-cricket-bat zombie fatalities. Rather than discuss nuances of the acting profession they were, or so I thought, much more likely to “av a laf” and regale me with jokes about lads back home partial to a cheeky pint or two.
After all, their screen CVs are doused with alcohol. The Winchester Hotel is the beloved watering hole in Shaun of the Dead, where they ward off swarms of undead Brits. There are numerous pub scenes in Hot Fuzz. And continuous drinking isn’t just an element of the zany The World’s End — it is written into the script as an integral part of the story. The characters must keep drinking as they make jokes and beat up bad guys. In turn Wright cuts the ribbon on a new genre: the apocalyptic pub crawl movie.
Comedians like reacting to shtick, so I decided to provide them with some. You can imagine my surprise when — after asking a joke question about whether Australians can drink English people under the table — instead of sharing a story about, say, a mate who got so drunk he mistook a divvy van for a taco truck, the actors, seriously unimpressed, took the moral high ground. Pegg scoffs “if you like” and Frost responds with:
“I think you’re very, very wrong…Drinking has gone completely out of hand at home and you know, it’s a terribly dark culture that should’t be hoisted upon the shoulders of society and applauded.”
Their unexpectedly sober response to a gag question about drinking, made on the PR circuit to promote a comedy about a pub crawl, makes me laugh, but they’re not joking, and the interview never really recovers. My self-consciously delivered follow up remarks about the “humorous mixed messages” Pegg sent by giving up booze three years ago then starring in a movie predicated on continuous drinking don’t go down well either.
I had enough time on the shot clock to make up some ground with a question about Cake Flushing, a 2008 viral video in which Frost flushes chocolate cakes down hotel toilets. I’m grateful they don’t take me seriously when I describe it as “an esoteric cult film” that generated “a very under-appreciated response.”
Watch the video embedded above.