ONE OF RTE’S BIGGEST COMEDY HITS IS COMING TO THE BIG SCREEN THIS MARCH. WRITER AND ACTOR ANDY QUIRKE WHO PLAYS NORTHSIDER DAMO, SOUTHSIDE DAMO & NEW-COMER JOHN JOE TELLS US WHAT TO EXPECT…
Q: Not only was Damo & Ivor a hit on TV, it also racked up 8 million views on YouTube, 4 top 10 singles and a top 10 album, what do you think is the secret of its success?
The secret of its success is:
1. It’s really down to the characters – people can relate to them. Everybody knows a Damo and everybody knows an Ivor. The characters have to be really likeable and make people laugh. They also have to connect with them on an emotional
level in the show. Everybody has a favourite whether it’s Damo or Ivor or Grano or Tracey or Spuddy. Characters are the most important thing.
2. What you create for YouTube/ RTE – the standard has to be very good. The internet is really important. Back in the day your show could only be a success if it went on television but now we have the Internet with You Tube/ Facebook and
platforms that give you the opportunity to have your own channel and build your fan base through that. The opportunities are there for success for anybody who wants it if you put the work in. So just go and do it!
Q: What do you think it is about the show that clicks with audiences?
There are loads of comedies out there that make people laugh but the difference with
Damo and Ivor is it makes you laugh, makes you cry and makes you laugh again. It clicks
with people on an emotional level and it can surprise audiences.
The audience can click with the show as it doesn’t matter where you come from everybody
knows the characters in real life – from Damo, Ivor, Grano, Spuddy, Tracey or Sarah Jane. A
character there for everybody.
Q: The show can trace its roots to a video on BEBO and evolved into this huge success, When did you realise you were on to something with it?
I uploaded ‘Skanger Me Banger’ to Bebo back in 2007 and within a couple of weeks it was at
just over 1 million views which was unheard of back then. ‘Skanger Me Banger’ was the first
ever Irish viral video. Everybody had it set as their flashbox on Bebo. After a couple of
weeks, I saw the views going up and people going crazy so I started to think about how to
make it bigger for people who wouldn’t be interested in just that one character so I created
Ivor the identical twin brother. Once I created him – I was suckin diesel.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about the journey of the show from a simple sketch to TV to the big screen?
When I was 13 I used to take my mum’s old video camera and record myself doing sketches.
I wasn’t doing it for anybody else. Really for my own entertainment. After a while I got
bored doing it so I decided to create Damo and make ‘Skanger Me Banger’. Then I created
Ivor as a polar opposite to Damo. I started to write a film first and went to Ruth Carter in
Parallel at the time and she was really interested in the potential of the project. We started
to develop it as a TV show that had a storyline instead of it being sketch based.
It can take a while for a TV show to come to fruition. I was writing lots but nothing had been
created yet so I decided to make a music video. I made ‘Everybody’s Drinkin’ which I sent
into Republic of Telly and they rang to say who are the two guys who are playing the
characters? They were shocked when they realised it was just me. They put it up on
Republic of Telly as a once off thing. They then asked for me to do another sketch. So, I did a
sketch on their hangovers which went viral. The next season – I did a year of sketches with
them. It kept me busy while trying to get the TV show up and running. By the time the TV
show had been released I had a gigantic fan base. Therefore things taking longer than I
hoped ended up being a blessing as I’d perfected the characters by the time it got to the TV
show and I was better at writing and acting them out. We did Series 1, then wrote series 2
both went really well and then the movie. Here we are now.
Q: How long has the movie been in development?
We started writing it about 3 years ago. It took a good amount of time to get the script right
and then get the money together from different sources to bring the budget up to a point
where we could make a really good movie.
Q: What can fans expect from the big screen adventure?
It will make you laugh, it will make you cry and it will make you laugh again. It is a little bit
more serious than the TV show with a lot more emotion in it. I think that’s really important
for the movie as with a TV show it’s only 30 minutes long and you can gag it up. For the film
it needs emotion in the story to engage an audience for 90 minutes. Some great laughs and
some really heart-warming scenes too.
Q: You famously play both leads, Damo the chav and his posher brother Ivor but this time you also play a third character, their long-lost brother John Joe. How did this new character come about?
When Damo and Ivor found each other the actual story of the search for another person
had stopped and it had been an exciting part of the show when a character is searching for
their brother or a treasure. That type of story had ended and I wanted to reignite it again
which is why I brought in a lost brother who needed to be very different to Damo and Ivor.
Therefore I created John Joe. It makes it more interesting for the fans and the audience and
more interesting and exciting and fun for me!
Q: How difficult is it to balance three different acting roles at the same time?
The amount of work before we start filming is immense. Every single sentence that Damo,
Ivor or John Joe says in the movie I would have acted it out at home in my room or in front
of the mirror at least 100 times, maybe even more so I know exactly where to stand, what
expressions to do by the time I get on set. ’ve prepared myself so much that by the time I’m
on set I find it easy to act out the scene. It does massively help once I step into the costume
I walk different, talk different, my expressions change as the practice has programmed me
to be that way. By the time I’m on set I find it easy to play the character as when I get into
their clothes, I feel like I am Damo, Ivor or John Joe and not Andy. When I’m acting out the
scene I find myself almost acting the scene identical from take 1 to take 2 as that’s the way
I’ve rehearsed it myself multiple times. It’s not difficult on set. It’s hard to get it to where it’s
right before we start to film.
Then the changes per day is really intense. Jumping from one character to the other.
Sometimes when I am in the Damo gear and I am really getting into it and loving the
character and then next thing you are running to costume to go get changed again into
another character. By 12/ 13 hours in a day will pass before I feel like Andy again.
Q: How does filming work with different roles? i.e. – Do you film Ivor one week and Damo another or could they both be on the same day?
Usually we start the day with Damo if we can because Damo takes the longest to prep –
costume wise due to the moustache. Due to restrictions on time as the film only took 20
days to shoot – we don’t have the luxury of being able to stick to one character a day. On
some days of filming there were 8 changes in one day from Damo to Ivor to John Joe, Damo,
Ivor to John Joe back to Damo, finally Ivor. So yes one role per day would be great although
having to play 3 of them in one day does make it more exciting. It can be really hard going as
it messes with your head as you are becoming three different people in one day and then
going home and being back to yourself. However, in saying that – I wouldn’t change it. I love
it. It makes it better.
Q: Which character is most fun to play?
I think when I really push it I enjoy the laughs I get out of people from Ivor. When you hear
people behind the camera laughing, you know you are doing a good job. Damo is the most
fun to play. I don’t know why that is but I just like the character Damo better as his morals
are much better as Ivor can be a bit selfish. His whole world revolves around him whereas
Damo is the daddy and he makes sure that everybody is okay but can still be funny as well.
And he is a little bit of a brat, a Dennis the Menace a little like myself. Damo is the most fun
to play but I do love Ivor as well and I wouldn’t just like to play Damo. I like to play all of
Q: Will the movie stand-alone from the TV show?
The TV show is written differently to the movie. TV show is 30 minutes long and without
adverts it is 24 minutes. You don’t have enough time to build emotion in one episode. You
can build it over a series but not just one episode. You are better off focusing your emotion
through a whole series for the TV show and get as many quick gags as you can in the TV
series (a laugh every 30 seconds). The film isn’t like that as it is 90 minutes long so the
audience need to engage with the story and emotion. Then after that the jokes come in. You
have to work backwards to what you’d normally do on a TV show. If the movie had just
laughs like the TV show, they’d laugh but the film would be forgotten as it wouldn’t engage
on another level.
Q: Did you look at other TV shows that successfully had big screen spin-offs?
I never watch TV. Maybe because I’m on the Internet all the time. I will watch something if I
hear people talking about it being really good but generally I don’t watch TV. If it is a show
on the same level as Damo & Ivor comedy wise, I purposely won’t watch them. People can
end up watching a show and unconsciously pick up gags from it and I try to avoid that. I
don’t focus on other people’s work. I only focus on mine. I am only trying to outdo myself
and not others. Sometimes what I would do is if I hear stories that other people talk about
in their lives – funny stories – I would listen and use those stories and exaggerate them to
make them funnier. However I don’t use other shows to make our show better.
Q: What things did you find work on TV that work differently on the big screen?
For comedy on TV you need to keep the people engaged with really fast, quick jokes one
after another. When you go to creating a film you can spread it out a bit more. What does
play a big difference is sound. Sound in a movie is very different to sound at home so it
needs to be epic in the film as you want the seats shaking in the cinema. Music and sound
effects makes a massive difference in the cinema as nobody has a cinema at home other
Q: Part of the TV shows success is the fantastic supporting cast, was it difficult to get everyone on board for the movie? What were their reactions?
It wasn’t hard to get them on board at all because all of the cast on the TV series couldn’t
wait for the movie. On set on Damo and Ivor is a really happy place as everybody gets on
really well. The cast and crew feel like a big happy family. There is no aggravation and
everybody is working for the one goal. They really love the show. It’s not like they are doing
it just for a job as they actually love it. They were as excited about the movie as I was. They
would have been upset if they weren’t on it.
Q: Is there much collaboration or improvisation with the cast on set?
No. The script is locked down and all the characters/ actors play their roles as scripted.
There’s no improvisation. Everybody sticks to their script. All the actors have all nailed their
characters and know them inside out themselves.
Q: The movie will screen to audiences worldwide, what do you think non-Irish audiences will make of it?
Irish audiences will be proud of it. When it goes to other countries it’s not just dependant on
their nationality of the audience as there are some Irish people who will love it and some
who won’t so that’s the case in every country I think. One thing that Damo and Ivor have is –
diverse backgrounds – people who grew up on different sides of town and everywhere in
the world has polar opposites like that so people can relate to it anyway. If they are able to
understand the accents I think it will do really well abroad. If the non-irish audiences give it
a chance and watch it, I’m pretty confident they will love the characters.
Q: What are your thoughts on Irish film at the moment?
I would say that people shouldn’t be talking negative about Irish film as it only breeds more
negativity. For such a small country we do extremely well. A tiny country with a tiny
population and we are known all over the world for making great movies. Something can
always be made better and that goes for Irish film. We should always be striving to be
better. Not just competing with other countries but compete with ourselves.
Q: How long did the movie take to film?
20 days of filming. A huge amount of costume changes and it was go, go, go for cast and
crew. No lulls in the movie when we were filming it. A huge amount of laughs. No boredom
in it. We all had to be on form to get it all completed in 20 days which is not an easy task as
it’s a huge amount of script to get through. There are a lot of characters and a lot of
locations to move around. It’s incredible that it was even done in 20 days. It’s good though
when you are kept to a tighter time scale as people have to be on the ball. Energy is kept up.
20 days of craziness but good craziness.
Q: In what ways was it different to making a series for TV?
For making the series for TV – 3 hours of TV is a huge amount of work and script to film and
we had the same amount of time to film series 1 as we had for the movie – 20 days for
series 1 and 24 days for series 2. So more intense again.
For series 1 – it was 1 or 2 takes for myself. Most of the time it was 1 take and we’d move
straight onto the next shot. For the film – there was slightly a bit more time as it was 90
minutes of footage for the film as opposed to 3 hours. Instead of only 1 take I could get 2/ 3.
The speed of things slowed down ever so slightly. Still we worked super fast still but it was
great to have the luxury of being able to have another take and the opportunity to do it
before moving to the next scene.
DAMO & IVOR – THE MOVIE hits Irish cinemas on March 16th