Filling The Studio With Helium During A News Report
During Morris' brief time at BBC Radio Bristol, he decided it would be a fine wheeze to pump a little helium gas into the studio during the news bulletin that followed his show.
The story has since Chinese-Whispered its way around the internet (one source claims the newscaster had to struggle with a Smurfy voice during the reporting of a fatal train-crash).
The reality, as confirmed by the show's producer in the above video, is more prosaic: the helium-vocal effect didn't kick in until the end-of-news weather ("We seem to have some problems with a few balloons").
Schoolboy stuff, then. But he was just limbering up...
Prank Call To The Sun
Not for Morris the standard radio mainstay of a phoney phone-call to an easy target.
Ever keen to court discovery by pushing an idea to the limit of plausibility, he recorded Steve Coogan as then-Labour leader Neil Kinnock ranting and swearing at imaginary hotel bar-staff and whored the tape to drooling tabloid journos. ("How much could you offer for a saucy one like this?")
The hacks dived on the 'evidence', and Morris smoothly exposed Fleet Street's shabby backhander culture by playing it just the right side of straight ("I turned around to witness the shouting with my ear...")
He does it so well, he has to patiently deconstruct the joke in front of the Sun News Editor before he finally twigs.
Next in line for a Morrising: pious religious types...
Wayne Carr Investigates Backward Messages In Music
While other comedians were peddling lazy parodies of unparodyable US shock-jocks, Morris was busy reinventing the whole concept of character comedy.
'Wayne Carr' was a phonetically unfortunate hybrid of the sort of unctuous DJ who thinks that being paid to talk over records gives him a platform to spout off about wider issues.
Carr is pretty much Character Zero for the Sacha Baron-Cohen method of drawing out interviewee stupidity by hiding behind a strange but plausible persona.
Here, in a non-celebrity foreshadow of the techniques he'd go on to use in Brass Eye, Morris/Carr seduces rent-a-comment Christian zealots into railing against non-existent backward messages in harmless pop songs ("Oh, more, cheap savage! Rush now, you savage!")
On The Hour Award Acceptance Speech
In a fabulously arrogant moment of pomposity-pricking, the 26-year-old zoology graduate Morris uses his stage-time to blankly inform the audience about the life-cycle of the parasitic Warble Fly.
On The Hour producer Armando Iannucci swiftly steps in like an embarrassed dad to offer a more conventional message of gratitude.
The show's radio-news parody format helped Morris hone his editing and presenting skills, and the Comedy Award fuelled On The Hour's leap to TV...
"That's it! Yes! IT'S WAR!"
The most stinging swipe of satire from Morris and Ianucci's indelible savaging of TV news conventions (overcooked graphics, self-important roving reporters, nerdy sports presenters...).
Morris' waspish anchorman badgers two leaders into declaring war on each other, because - well - war is bad and wrong but it's also a great excuse for TV hacks to throw on their flak-jackets and retch up a few tortured metaphors ("The stretched twig of peace is at melting point!")
After this, on the verge of becoming a TV comedy fixture, Morris ducked out of the limelight and slid back behind the mike...
Dead Johnny Walker
Morris' '94 Radio 1 evening outing was a thrilling hour of spoof interviews, fake tannoy announcements, cruel phone pranks and terrific music (bit too much Stereolab, maybe).
The show also featured regular contributions from Day Today/I'm Alan Partridge writer Peter Baynham. Here, the pair discover the fly-riddled corpse of fellow Radio 1 DJ Johnny Walker and attempt to give it a posthumous voice by blowing through holes punched in Dead Johnny's throat.
Morris was eventually suspended for two weeks following a notorious item which implied the death of Tory MP Michael Heseltine.
He responded by scaling back and enjoying an initimate aside with one of his comedy heroes...
The Fossilised Remains Of Christ
A five-part series of 10-minute semi-improvised conversations between Morris' brusque interviewer and Peter Cook's addled aristocrat Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling.
Criminally buried away on Radio 3, the pair's boundary-tickling chemistry lends the shows an inspired air of comic absurdism, with this exchange on Streeb-Greebling's discovery of Christ's fossilised corpse a heretic highlight.
"The On The Hour and Day Today things were all about trying to establish a character within a situation", says Morris. "Peter Cook was really doing knight's move and double knight's move thinking to construct jokes or ridiculous scenes flipping back on themselves. It was amazing."
'Are British Men Lousy Lovers?'
During a debate on overlit daytime TV talk-show The Time The Place, Morris infiltrated the audience - in light disguise - as academic Thurston Lowe, offering clearly nonsensical conjecture to smarmy host John Stapleton.
"Athene was the goddess of wisdom", he blethers to audience titters. "She was so wise, she had a second brain in her breast."
With the help of an eagle-eyed earpiece producer, Stapleton exposes the ruse, but Morris deftly turns the rumbling into an embarrassment for the slippery anchor ("You've changed the colour of your hair. Why is it not white any more?")
Now tired of pawing at self-important media conventions, Morris turned his attention to shredding the very fabric of celebrity culture.
Anyone for Cake?
A pummelling patchwork of acid satire, hyperreal skits and Day Today-like fake reportage, Brass Eye was Morris' bridge-burning, bird-flipping sign-off to television.
The show was a touchstone for sanctimonious tabloid outrage. Then-Channel 4 controller Michael Grade tried to bury it by insisting on re-edits and schedule changes (see Morris' celebrated response to Grade's tampering
A mock campaign against 'Cake' - a "made-up drug" - was the celebrity-slaying high point, with Morris' 'FUKD & BOMBD' lobby exposing the tendency of publicity-hungry B-listers to climb aboard any old issue bandwagon. (Buy the T-shirt
Next up - back to radio for a twisted trip to the edge of darkness...
Seeped out in the nether-hours on Radio 1, Blue Jam remains Morris' deadliest, darkest hour - an 'ambient' sketch show woven with woozy music, deranged monologues and unsettling consultations with a range of dysfunctional doctors ("I'll just give that a bit of a kiss... There you go. It should clear up in no time.")
Morris' 1999 Observer column 'Second Class Male' (written by 'Richard Geefe') emerged from this tawdry story of a newspaper writer documenting his impending suicide in a typically self-obsessed confessional.
More Jam. For the eyes...
Blue Jam's relative radio obscurity pushed ahead this brief port-over to TV.
Despite the terrible power of the ideas (woman calls in a plumber to 'fix' her dead baby, men suffer a lethal epidemic of unstoppable ejaculation) the original's mystique and malevolence feels a little muted in the radio-to-TV translation.
Here, a feckless couple treat the disappearance of their six-year-old son as a casual irritation.
There were complaints. But the fuss was nothing compared to...
For this one-off Brass Eye revisit, Morris targeted the hysterical media demonisation of paedophilia ("They don't deserve punishment. They deserve gunishment!")
Eminem-esque rapper JLb-8 performed a
controversial, pro-paedo number
("Leave the kids alone... with me!"). Devious new paedo grooming techniques were exposed (above)...
And, in a FUKD & BOMBD-style campaign, Morris pimped a parade of media-whores into pretend-outrage ("Genetically, paedophiles have more in common with crabs than they do with you and me!")
Hilariously, the outrage mirrored the show's point - exposing ill-informed grandstanding and ugly, us-and-them reasoning.
One tabloid printed Morris' home phone number, but he simply recorded a counterattacking message on his answering machine welcoming callers to the paper's news desk.
"He seemed to find it like an annoying change in the weather," says Morris collaborator Charlie Brooker. "He didn't seem like somebody who was stressed or under house arrest."
Still - time to change tack? Maybe soften a little and steer clear of potentially offensive areas? Well...
September 11th DVD Easter Egg
An inspired reprise of the relationship between Morris' Paxman-ish Day Today news anchor and Patrick Marber's ineffectual reporter Brian O'Hanrahanrahan in which the intrepid hack presses on with a piece on a Twin Towers trade delegation unaware that the buildings have been destroyed.
"One of the towers has collapsed - fortunately not the one I'm in! Hang on... The one I'm in is collapsing! I'm out, I'm out!... I'm not there."
Early in 2002, Morris and Armando Ianucci wrote an
'Absolute Atrocity Special'
for the Observer, spoofing the media coverage of the 'War On Terror' and planting the seed that would eventually sprout into...
"You've got a beard!"
In the decade between the Brass Eye Paedophilia Special and this daring - and moving - farce on fundamentalism, Morris released a short film starring Paddy Considine (
My Wrongs #8245-8249 & 117
), appeared in patchy sitcom
The IT Crowd
and - with Charlie Brooker - co-wrote the Hoxton hipster-trashing
But Four Lions (read our review
) feels like the film Morris has been revving up for since The Day Today
the '90s media convention of dubbing Sinn Fein politicians with actor voiceovers in a ludicrous attempt to ridicule terrorist ideology.
The media fluster has been predictably ill-informed and misguided. It's not a sensationalist trade on 7/7 or a cheap snigger at the expense of those affected by terrorism.
It's the mark of a merry prankster maturing into a fearless commentator on the absurdities of our age.
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