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LAist Interview: Jon Link & Mick Bunnage of IFC's 'Modern Toss'

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Modern Toss
"Modern Toss" premieres on IFC tonight at 11pm

"Modern Toss" premieres on IFC tonight at 11pm
Starting tonight at 11pm, IFC will begin airing "Modern Toss", an animated series that is the creation of British journalists Mick Bunnage and Jon Link. "Modern Toss" was initially a print comic and website experiment that leaped to TV via UK Channel 4 and now the US finally gets to enjoy it.If you are a fan of British comedy then this is the series for you. If, in particular, you are a fan of the surreal and absurd material in Monty Python, then you'll very much enjoy "Modern Toss". My very conversation with Jon and Mick was surreal - they spoke to me from London on a scratchy long-distance line (you can listen below), and in about 30 seconds I had no idea which was which. In picking through the interview to piece together the below transcripted bits, I found it impossible to keep track of them. Nontheless, they're very funny as is their series. "Modern Toss" makes its US debut tonight on IFC @ 11pm.

Hear the complete interview here:

LAist: You were collaborators before getting into TV, but how did "Modern Toss" get started?

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Modern Toss: We released a comic in 2004 which we published ourselves and from that comic we were called by Channel 4, it's a really straightforward story for us - we must've been doing something right.

LAist: Your style of animation, by overlaying the animated bits on backgrounds looks DIY but it's very sophisticated when you really look like it.

Modern Toss: It's like sophisticated punk rock. We actually work quite hard to get that graphic look.

LAist: About one of your animated characters, Alan, who is quite irritable, was he inspired by anyone?

Modern Toss: We've got a lot of friends like Alan, they're quite disturbed. He's the crystalization of about 10 different mad people that we know. Their terrible behavior comes out at weddings, christenings, family meals, and the like.

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LAist: Alan's methods of destruction are quite creative. These are real objects that an animated character destroys with real actors having to react to him and his handiwork.

Modern Toss: We put a lot of work and pre-planning into these, technically they're a bit of a nightmare but we do it all for real, it's very important that they're done for real. He actually blows things up!

LAist: You have a segment called "Help Desk" that is not animated, it's all real actors with a kind of accentless monotone voiceover, characters that bombard the help-desk with ridiculous one-liners.

Modern Toss: They're like human cartoons, they have no personality, they are just a series of quirks with a line to deliver. When we first started out on TV, we did some castings to find this ensemble of misfits. The voiceover is deliberately a very BBC News Service type of flat English accent.

LAist: Your outdoor shots, whether with Alan or the "Drive-by-Abuser", or particularly the "Illegal Alphabet", are in these stunningly beautiful areas.

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Modern Toss: That's England for you, it's actually in East Sussex, now ruined by us, but we had to get permission from the National Trust in order to shoot there. You can't get permits now. We did wait until we had really sunny days, it made it more surreal. We're thinking of trying to sell the footage to the National Tourist Board. What did you make of the "Drive-by-Abuser"?

LAist: He does things that I think I've wanted to do in the past.

Modern Toss: That's the secret of the whole thing you see. You've gone straight into it you see. It's the dream of every man to drive around screaming at people from out the window. He's saved us a fortune in therapy. He likes to point out the bleeding obvious, it's kind of a Cockney thing, that sort of cheery aggressiveness.

LAist: We talked about the surrealism in your work before, this is personified in Mr. Tourette, the French signmaker, who translates his clients words into messages that are both offensive as well as surreal.

Modern Toss: When the Olympics come to London, we have a friend with a flat, with a large white wall overlooking one of the areas, and he wants us to do a Mr. Tourette sign, so we will be sending a message to the world there. We also have a plastic shopping bag that we've commissioned that we hope gets a message out there, it says "Buy More Shit or We're All Fucked"