Sur­real messers

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

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - COVER STORY -

‘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

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