Olde English Looks Back at ‘Michel Gondry’

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Splitsider is thrilled to offer our first digital download, The Exquisite Corpse Project, a fantastic film from the former members of legendary sketch group Olde English. I recently sat down with the guys to look through some of their classic Olde English sketches. Here, the group can’t quite agree on how a celebrity encounter played out.

Ben: Michel Gondry, that’s a good story.

Chioke: It’s like in the height of Michel Gondry being his most Michel Gondry-ish.

Adam: Yeah, The Science of Sleep had just come out.

Raphael: That’s another example of…

Ben: Cardboard abounds!

Raphael: …aiming for a niche audience. That’s the most mainstream we could be. Like, who’s big? Michel Gondry. People are gonna love that. I think it didn’t even occur to us that there were a large number of people who’d never heard of this man, because to us he was the biggest celebrity at that time.

Ben: Well, we were big DIY filmmakers. And Michel Gondry is the king of DIY filmmakers.

Adam: We were all obssessed with his music video collection.

Raphael: Yeah, all his movies. Like huge, huge fans.

Adam: Now we think he’s dogshit.

[They all laugh.]

Raphael: I don’t think that, Raphael said.

Caleb: Handsomely.

Raphael: But yeah, so basically the video is a parody and a tribute to Michel Gondry and his career, with all these little inside jokes and references to different things he worked on.

Caleb: And it’s shot in the style of Cribs.

Raphael: Yeah, so that’s…

Chioke: But the moment of serendipity is they did that at a live show…

Ben: Hold on, hold on.

Raphael: I’m getting to that. You think I’m gonna leave that part out?

Chioke: Yeah, I thought you were just gonna forget.

Raphael: No. So we made this video all about Michel Gondry, and we used to have this monthly show at the UCB where we’d premiere our new videos. And so were were gonna show this video at the midnight show on a Saturday night. And so we get there early and the last show is finishing up, and Ben comes backstage, and he goes, “Raphael,” and you know, I’m doing this impression…

Ben: Hold on, let me cut in for a second. So I’m walking into the theater, down the stairs as you enter, and coming up the stairs, leaving the show is Michel fucking Gondry. I’ve never seen him before, outside of the director’s DVDs and stuff, but that’s him. He’s there, he’s leaving. And I grab him, and I’m like, “Uh, this is weird, but like we made a video about you which we’re gonna premiere…”

Adam: This is not what happened.

Raphael: I did that.

Ben: Was this you?

Raphael: Yeah.

Adam: Yeah, wow. You interuppted, you’re like, “Let me take over, I’m gonna put myself in this story.” [They all laugh.] “It’s gonna happen to me in this version. I just want to change it so that it’s me who says the thing and gets the guy.”

Raphael: So what actually happened is Ben told me that Michel Gondry was in the audience.

Ben: [Points to his head] Not in here, I didn’t.

[They all laugh.]

Raphael: So then I found him as he was leaving the theater.

Adam: Raphael and I are back stage and Ben runs in and goes, “Raphael! Michel Gondry is leaving the theater.”

Ben: So I was there?

Adam: Yes. “You have to go talk to him!” And me and Raphael were like, “Bullshit. You’re kidding.” And Ben was like, “No! Raphael, you go do it! I am not brave enough to go talk to him.”

Raphael: “Although later, when I tell this story…”

Adam: “…I will say that it was me.” But you definitely told Raphael to go do it.

Raphael: It also made sense because I was the one who did the impression of him, and I directed it. It was like my baby, this sketch. So I went up, I was like, “Excuse me, are you Michel Gondry?” And he goes, [in French accent] “Em, yes.”

[They all laugh.]

Ben: Spot on! Good as ever!

Raphael: [In accent] “Yes I am Michel Gondry.” You know, I do the impression, so I’m pretty good. And I go, “Hey, I’m a really big fan of yours. This is really weird, but in the next show, we actually have a sketch that’s all about you. Like, just coincidentally we have this sketch that’s all about Michel Gondry.”

Ben: Never shown it to anybody yet.

Raphael: “We’ve never shown it to anybody. This is the premiere of this sketch. We did not know you were gonna be here. Maybe you want to stick around and watch our show?” And he goes, “Mmm. It’s right now?” I go, “Yeah, yeah yeah. It’s right now.” He goes, “Mmm, ok.”

Ben: Cut to an hour and a half later.

Raphael: Yeah, so then we do a whole show at midnight, this goes until one in the morning, and then in that show, there’s this video of Michel Gondry, and I’m like trying to peek through to see if he’s enjoying it. But I don’t know where he’s sitting, I can’t find him. And so then afterwards, I go to up to him, like, “Huuuuh?” And his response to the video was, “Eh, no hard feelings.” Which like, I thought he’d be like, “It’s funny! I liked it!” Instead his response was, “I was not offended by it.”

Ben: Well, really we had done such a crude job parodying him.

Raphael: Right. I’m sure he saw it and he’s like, “This is me? This is not me.” I’m sure if Michel Gondry made a Michel Gondry Cribs, he would do it so much better and more interestingly.

Ben: Yes.

Caleb: But we were making fun of it. There’s no doubt about that.

Adam: We were like, “Eh, his whole thing is string. It’s just a lot of string.”

Raphael: Just a lot of string.

Ben: We’ve got him crying about other directors.

Adam: And let’s be honest, it is just a lot of string.

The Exquisite Corpse Project is available for download for $5 from Splitsider Presents.