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Interview : Anthony Mir and Akmal Saleh

Ever loathed Disco music so much, you’d go so far as to murder the icons of it all, The Village People? While Australian comedians Anthony Mir, Gary Eck and Akmal Saleh would never wish that on the beloved Cop, Indian, Biker, Sailor, Construction Worker and Cowboy, they did think the idea would spark some great laughs. CLINT MORRIS talks to Mir and Saleh about their new Aussie comedy, "You Can’t Stop the Murders".

“Initially it was the idea of killing them”, laughs Anthony Mir, star and director of “You Can’t Stop the Murders”. “I quite liked them growing up, but it just takes the edge of Homicide having the Village People involved.”

Co-star Akmal Saleh says they even had a brush with the infamous disco singers. “We actually met them {The Village People] by coincidence on the Kerri Anne show. We were just walking to the make up room and they walked past us in the full get up. And then they talked to us in the green room. They found out that we’d done the movie and asked, “Hey, you guys killed the Village People. Why?” [Laughs}. “Are we evil or…. what’s the story?”

“You Can’t Stop the Murders” originated as a two-minute sketch for television. But in all the old tradition of “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” the boys dream to make a film version of it came to a fruition with the assistance of a friend.

“My next door neighbour, Anastasia Sideris, is a film producer. She did “Love and Other Catastrophes”. She’d known us from our comedy days, came and saw us perform and helped us work it out”, says Anthony.

“The thing is people have to see you on stage, making people laugh before they’re convinced, so she came to see a couple of our shows. You always have to prove yourself with comedy”, adds Akmal.

Once the troupe started writing their film they soon realised the more reverberating humour was in the susceptibility of the two nervous police officers, not the murders themselves.

Says Anthony, “Once we started writing the film we realise there was a lot more humour not only in the slash and murder element of the movie, but also the story of the Cops, and their internal story. We didn’t want to go down the road of say “Police Academy” and “Super Troopers” which were probably more overt”.

“I always think that if you make it look like you’re not trying to be funny it’s funnier and it has a much longer life. As opposed to take say a “Flying High” style comedy where there’s great gags, but a shorter life.”, says Akaml.

Akmal says having done sketch comedy for years; it only seemed natural to make film the next step. “We had done a 6 hour half hour sketch comedy and we’d been writing sketches together, so to me this was the next logical progression. Sketches, to me, are just film ideas. We already had a good working relationship, so it wasn’t that leap from the pub to movies”, says Akmal.

“The traditional difference is that films are like a 100 metre sketch. You run a marathon so you’ve got to set yourself for that pace”, adds Anthony.

Anthony, who says he assumed director responsibilities early on, decided it would best if they all used their real first names in the film. “We wanted to play ourselves. We just wanted to be ourselves. I think most comedians work best [in films] when they’re just themselves. It’s kind of more honest and easier for us to call each other by our names. Gary [Eck] he is like that, Akmal he is like that. And I’m like that”.

His favourite scenes in the movie are “the one where Gary and Akmal have their argument, where they kept telling the truth to each other and I really liked the ‘Sperm’ scene. And I really liked Gary doing his Flashdance scene”.

For the film, the guys also called in a few favours, roping in a few fellow comedians for supporting roles. “They’re all there. I guess we got to work with our favourites. The Umby’s [The Umbilical Brothers], The Sandman.” says Anthony. “I kept telling the Sandman ‘Less’. He kept saying [in flat “Sandman” voice] “I don’t have any less”. [Laughs]

Next up, besides working on another film (which Anthony won’t be involved in] the trio will be taking their movie to the world, via distributors Miramax.

“They’re distributing it. They come on after the film was cut. It certainly adds a bit of kudos [to the film] having Miramax distribute”, says Anthony “We go to Cannes in May and we’ll see how it goes. We’ve had a couple of screenings in New York, London and L.A. It actually played really well in London. I don’t know how it’ll play with the Americans because they seem to like the overt, but definitely London like their comedy like this”.

And how did the Village People react to hearing that they’ve been knocked off on celluloid?
“The Biker died for real and we didn’t know this, and they [The Village People] asked, “Who dies first?” and we said “the Biker. The Biker dies first”. And there was this really horrible awkward silence. We didn’t know!” says Akmal.

YOU CAN’T STOP THE MURDERS is now showing across Australia

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