Hardy Bucks are making the move onto the big screen and into the big time, but head Mayo honcho Martin Maloney admits he never thought it would go this far. “I could end up being hounded by the press like Princess Diana,” he tells Tara Brady
‘I’M WAKING UP at night in a cold sweat,” says Martin Maloney, the cocreator and star of one-time YouTube sensation Hardy Bucks. “I never thought it would go this far to be honest. I could end up being hounded by the press like Princess Diana.”
Hardy Bucks is an unlikely Cinderella story for the internet age. Created in drunkenness and shot on location in Swinford, Co Mayo, the Bucks, explains Maloney, began life as “some messing” with fellow instigator Chris Tordoff back in 2007. A rough-hewn web series followed. A new cult was born.
It is, as Maloney notes, “an unbelievable case of humble beginnings”.
Later this month, The Hardy Bucks Movie will premiere at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival and go on release across the UK and Ireland. The film will be distributed by Universal Pictures and its images of the Bucks at last year’s Euro 2012 are already familiar on the back of a high-profile advertising campaign. This is a big deal for something that came out of “too many ales”.
“Me and Chris Tordoff used to send each other surreal text messages about country life,” says Maloney. “We’d name people after cars and that sort of stuff. Like ‘Look out! Lexus Higgins is after you!’ or ‘Watch out for Mahogany Suit’. It all went back to the kind of talk you’d hear from teenagers around the town. Or that you’d hear from us around the town. We didn’t need to make it funny. It was pretty surreal as it was.”
Surreal seems to be hardwired into Maloney. A madcap raconteur and relentless ideas man, I have to check the recording time is correct when I listen back to the interview. Can any one human being cover so many topics and take that many conversational tangents – Amy Winehouse, rates of marital fidelity among the Dutch, sunshine in Mexico, the price of wine and dinner for two in Poznan, Alan Partridge, the time he saw Irish Times writer Eoin Butler outside the Ireland-Italy game, a scheme for Bavaria can disposal and Last of the Summer Wine – in only an hour?
“Sorry,” he says at least once, “I’ve gone a bit stream of consciousness there.”
Unbridled banter is at the heart of the Hardy Bucks project. The Mayo-based comedy charts the idle chatter (“He’s mad as a bag of shpiders”) and misadventures of Eddie Durkin (Maloney) and assorted midlands ne’er-dowells, united by a penchant for fighting, drinking, roaming around and ‘schmoking’ hash.
The gang – notably Owen Colgan’s Buzz O’Donnell, Peter Cassidy’s Frenchtoast O’Toole and Tom Kilgallon’s The Boo, and Chris Tordoff’s The Viper – first assembled in September 2007 to shoot on equipment borrowed from Ballyfermot College where Tordoff was studying mixed media.
Three escapades were uploaded to You Tube within the year.
The Bucks viral success proved instrumental in its elevation to TV show proper. By the time Maloney and Tordoff’s creation was shortlisted as part of RTE’s Storyland competition in 2009, the webisodes had established a sizable following as a kind of Irish version of the hit Canadian mockumentary Trailer Park Boys.
“A lot of people thought we’d just ripped off the Trailer Park Boys when they first saw it,” recalls Maloney. “But we really liked the Trailer Park Boys. We loved the way they’d use small running gags. When we started in our minds we were making a kind of a tribute.”
The Hardy Bucks soon made the concept (“cruisin’ round te town doing laps”) their own, working distinctly local colour and phrasing – “He’s only a small fucker: he’s about two hands higher than a duck” – into comic set pieces.
Perhaps it helped that Maloney and Tordoff, who originally came from Leeds, brought an outsider’s view. Well, not outsider exactly. Maloney, a cheeky, red-haired chap with a soft Merseyside brogue, moved to Mayo – “17 years ago almost to the day” – but always felt Irish; at