I find Peter sitting at a table in a Notting Hill cafe, and proceed to interrupt his lunch for the following half an hour with inane questions. I greet him with a polite “hebbo” (the greeting of his and Robert Popper’s religion, Tarvuism) and jump right in.
HeyUGuys: You’re co-creator of a religion – what does the future hold for Tarvuism?
Peter: Robert Popper and I would really like to do a film or a TV show about it, it’s a tricky one to do because people don’t really want to touch things that are critical of religion. The things online are very Scientology based, but we wanted it to be a spoof of all religions. I was brought up Catholic and Robert’s Jewish – they both have their very silly aspects.
When me and Robert do stuff, we try and make it… you know, we’re not super hard-hitting, we don’t like to be cruel, we like to rejoice in the silliness of things.
Would you direct it?
I think we’d both like to direct it, I’d really like to direct a feature film.
Can finding funding be a problem?
It’s extremely hard, it’s like 100 times harder than getting a television show going, which is HARD, even if you have a certain degree of experience and success. And it’s hard to write stuff, no matter where you are in you career… life is HARD.
You were involved with Funny or Die UK, do you think there’s any scope for its return, or something similar?
It’s down to money again – to even make those sketches, and make them look as good as possible, everything needs money. There just isn’t a way to monetize a website like that at the moment. It’s interesting what Fosters are doing, sponsoring Alan Partridge and Vic and Bob, and that’s something that I’d like to get involved with – it seems like a good model. People might think that having the whole thing sponsored by a big company is selling out, but that’s how things get made, unfortunately!
Off the top of your head, how many Butterfield diet foods can you remember?
Mystery meat, hoisin crispy owl, twenty cheese omelette, quiches Lorraine…
Bonbonbonbons, of course…
How long did it take to think them up?
I think it was me and James who wrote that one – I think about 5 minutes? One thing we’d really like to do is a Brian Butterfield film – there are two things we want to do with him; a film where he’s a detective, and him doing a chat show.
One sketch has Brian Butterfield rapping along to Biggie Smalls, any more of that?
We want, at some point in the film, for Brian to go undercover as a Notorious B.I.G. impersonator.
You’re a big music fan, what are you listening to at the moment?
I’m listening to a lot of hip hop, this one guy called French Montana who was recommended to me by this amazing guy called Chilly Gonzalez who’s a rapper, but also one of the world’s greatest pianists. He’s in residence at the Soho Theatre for two weeks, and I really urge you to go and see him. I also love the theme from Paint Along With Nancy.
I don’t know that, could you hum it?
It’s a weird un-hummable tune! It’s brilliant. I do love 70’s library music too, I’m a bit of a connoisseur.
And you did the music for Look Around You?
Yeah Robert and I did the music. I mainly did the synthesizer-y stuff and Robert is an incredibly talented classical guitarist, so he did all the guitar. He’s a bit of a musical genius really.
Other than the Orange’s Film Night Live, what are you working on at the moment?
The Butterfield film, and I’ve got a book coming out of the jokes I put out on twitter that I’ve been quietly stockpiling…
Talking of Twitter, you’re chums with Rob Delaney and Megan Amram, any chance of a collaboration?
They’re both amazing. Megan is brilliant – there are some great young female funny people on twitter, and Megan is just hysterical. I’m hoping to do a show with them at some point. I’m also a big fan of Reggie Watts, he’s hilarious.
How did you break into the industry?
I sent a cassette of me doing lots of different voices to a producer at Radio 4. Nowadays, it’s so much easier for somebody like me or someone who’s interested in comedy, because if you’re funny, you’ve got an audience of millions right there [the internet]. I remember when Robert and I did the calcium pilot for Look Around You in 1999, we had to copy it onto VHS and send them out to people and it cost a fortune, we had tapes all over the place. Now, you can just email someone a link. It’s nuts man, it’s nuts. It’s an exciting time. Go on, ask me another question!
(I get a bit flustered.) You were in a show called Running Wilde, do you like to run wild?
I used to run wild, back in my thirties. Wait, I’m in my thirties! In my twenties I mean, I was a lunatic. But I run tame now. Walk tame.
(I ask a similar question about Look Around You, and clearly looking for more intelligent questions, Peter reads off my bit of paper.)
Do I still get starstruck? I’m starstruck right now. I do, totally. There’s so many people I get to work with who are total heroes.
Anything planned with Will Arnett in the future?
I hope so. He’s doing a sitcom at the moment in the States, and I’d love to do something again with him, y’know. He’s one of the funniest human beings on the planet, and he’s married to one of the other funniest human beings.
And with a swoosh, he’s off – to see Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
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Guest post by Cal King