Satirist Chris Morris, Writer-Director of Four Lions: Interview on The Sound of Young America

Chris Morris

Writer-director Chris Morris' new film, Four Lions, is a farce in an unexpected milieu: a terror cell. The film follows the lives of five British-born terrorists as they plan and attempt to execute a suicide bombing. Their efforts (and failures) were inspired by years of research by Morris, who tells us that he became fascinated by the real terrorism stories that struck him as funny. One group of bombers filled a boat with explosives, planning to blow it up alongside a US naval warship. The boat sank while they argued on the dock. Another terrorist was mocked by his compatriots for peeing too loud. He blamed the Jews who manufactured the too-thin bathroom door.

Four Lions was shortlisted for the World Cinema Narrative Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 2010. As a guest on our show, Sundance programmer Trevor Groth told us that while the film was uproariously funny, its greatest achievement was in humanizing the would-be murderers who are its subject. Four Lions enters staged release on November 5th, distributed under the new Drafthouse Films banner.

Morris made his name in the UK and among comedy fans with a series of incisive news satires in the 1990s. The Day Today parodied newscasts with absurd, buffoonish reporters and ridiculous headlines like "Where Now For Man Raised By Puffins?" Steering the ship with utter conviction was Morris behind the anchor desk. The news magazine satire Brass Eye went even further, at one point convincing a Minister of Parliament to introduce a resolution against "cake," a drug that the show had made up out of whole cloth. Morris himself went undercover, asking real street dealers for made-up drugs until they threatened him with violence. Most recently, Morris was a regular on The IT Crowd, created by past Sound of Young America guest Graham Linehan. Another past Sound guest has also been a frequent collaborator: Armando Iannucci, director of In The Loop.

Chris Morris was named #11 in a poll of "comedians' comedians" conducted by the BBC in 2005, finishing one slot behind Richard Pryor, and ahead of comedy legends like Bill Hicks, Peter Sellers and Steve Martin.


Great interview. It's so

Great interview. It's so wonderful and surreal to see Morris suddenly showing up in all these interviews stateside. And he'll be on Fallon Monday! How bizarre is that?

A few comments

Is that how "revered" is pronounced?

How is it that you give an exorbitantly long warning about the use of the word "retard," but when it comes up you laugh boisterously?

And why not just ask Morris how he responds to criticicism that he is humanizing undeserveing people instead of going on a lengthy, self-indulgent story?

Generally it's "reh-veered",

Generally it's "reh-veered", not "revvered". That's actually the first time I've heard that particular mangling. Perhaps it's a Brit thing and Jesse was just trying to honor his guest? ;)

Shall I take those one by one?

1) I think it can be pronounced either way, but I I could be wrong. If you can believe it, I sometimes mispronounce things - sometimes I even get other things wrong!

2) I wasn't offended by what he said - I thought it was funny. Some will be offended by it, and I thought it was reasonable to warn them. For some people it's an understandably touchy subject. That's what content warnings are for: to let people make their own decisions.

3) I felt the story was illustrative.

i concur

Hi Jesse,
Loved the interview; very insightful and very funny.
it may not be some people's cup of tea but this is the real world, not 1984. Everyone is allowed to have their own opinions and sense of humor.
I saw the movie; loved the movie. doesn't flinch from very real consequences despite the humor.