THEY say never meet your heroes, and I didn’t. I spoke to him on the phone. We can all relate to Armando Iannucci’s catalog of satirical content, because all anyone has experienced lately is political absurdity.
A two-year pandemic, several Downing Street scandals and now a crisis in Ukraine at the hands of the very country that banned his 2017 film The Death of Stalin. Iannucci had a lot to discuss.
The writer, director, producer and, let’s be honest, Glasgow-born, is set to make a triumphant return to a Scottish crowd this week. It’s been over ten years since spin-off and Iannucci’s first film, The Thick of It, In the Loop, had its European premiere at the Glasgow Film Festival in 2009, and after years of conflicting schedules, he returns to the place he describes as his “old home”. ‘.
“I wanted to come back sooner,” he told me. “But it’s always conflicted with my schedule because I’m usually away filming something. Coming out of a pandemic, it’s such a good time to get out and talk about film and cinema, and being in front of people and a big screen. I’m so aware of the joy of cinema and having people come to see it, so coming back to Glasgow and the film festival, it’s a good time to reappear.
Unfortunately, there will be no screening of new or old material at GFF22 by the director but something equally valuable. On Sunday March 6, a lucky group of film and TV enthusiasts will have the chance to dive deep into the mastermind behind Malcolm Tucker and Alan Partridge in a sold-out live chat event, where the Scottish satirist will discuss of her career. in depth.
So what better time to catch up with the master of satire after a somewhat turbulent start to 2022.
As many people took time to breathe at the start of the pandemic in May 2020, Armando Iannucci did the same. It turned out to help him with his latest creative project as he began to write his thoughts on how the political powers that be reacted to a virus that changed the world as we know it.
“I took it [the pandemic in 2020] at a slow pace, and I went into light hibernation mode, thinking it would definitely be a marathon rather than a sprint. However, I didn’t decide to start learning French or German from day one.
No, he didn’t learn another language but rather did what he does best: write. This turned out to be his poetry book Pandemonium: Some Verses on the Current Predicament. Contrary to the way he sometimes portrays political figures as clowns and goofy idiots, he chose to compare Downing Street workers to gods and superheroes.
It was a different style than he was used to when writing, as he insists the one thing he really craved during the pandemic was the ability to thrive in a room with other writers, which that sparks a creative mindset. “I even missed the creative sparks you get when you’re not working, taking a break, and just having a cup of tea,” he said.
“I started writing for my own therapy, and the good thing about poetry is that you can say 2-3 different things at once or you can be completely ambiguous. It reflects my thinking about the pandemic and I I don’t necessarily have an exact view of the past two years. There were some great things about it, but there were some horrible things about it.
“People can get what they want out of it,” he says of his poems. May it crystallize an experience for them or help them focus their anger and frustration. “It’s an instant emotional response to the pandemic and there’s no agenda.”
It may have been written for himself, but anyone can forgive the writer for being among the outraged public who were the butt of a joke that Boris Johnson ‘considered a business event’ .
Iannucci was among many who had to suffer loss with little chance of a proper goodbye, as his mother died at the start of the pandemic in 2020. No Covid, but while Boris partied he attended a reduced burial.
But what did one of the world’s finest satirists think of the events that have plagued Boris Johnson’s government for months now?
He seemed calm in the face of the scandal, surprising perhaps, but nonetheless aware of the absurdity of it all.
“It’s a punch in the gut and it’s had such a profound effect on how we see it [Boris Johnson] and the government.
“Even though the police say no rules were broken, it’s not about that. It’s about the way he behaved. If you tell people to stay indoors and not congregate, you shouldn’t allow that to happen in the rooms next to you.
“If people in power should be different from us, it should be because they are a little better than us, not worse. If Johnson is worse than us, then that’s a scary situation. »
As for what’s next for the Scottish satirist, you might wonder if even a veteran can create satire in such a time of political absurdity. His hit TV show The Thick of It ended because he felt the material was becoming too much of a reality, and the politics seem to be making a parody of itself today without any help from comedic writing.
Despite this, after wrapping up filming the second season of Avenue 5 with Hugh Laurie, Armando is now in the process of putting his next feature into motion. He kept his cards close to his chest, but said it was happening in the world of social media and was in talks with which actor he wanted to play the lead role.
To give a hint, he simply asked – where is the power? According to Armando Iannucci, it belongs to autocrats like Putin, as we are unfortunately seeing right now, or the heads of social media companies.
He echoes his contempt for corrupt power the day we speak by repeatedly and consistently tweeting “Putin fuck you”.
It might not be the funniest insult he’s ever written, but it cuts to the chase.