Garth Marenghi is the author, actor, director, producer and musician for two successful stage shows and a six-episode BBC series. He also doesn’t exist.
Marenghi is a creation of comedians Matthew Holness and Richard Ayoade, and played by Holness. Ayoade, when around “Marenghi”, plays his publisher and promoter Dean Learner. And, while they are both very funny in their roles, they are notable for something that was a hallmark of Kaufman. They don’t break character.
Whether for the performances themselves, meeting fans before and afterward, or giving interviews to the press, Marenghi and Learner are front and center, not Holness and Ayoade. One could easily be forgiven for believing that Marenghi is the author of multiple horror novels… although one would probably suspect something wasn’t right when he claimed to have had over 400 best-sellers and that he’d written far, far more books than he’d ever read.
Until, that is, you see them perform; then the situation becomes obvious. Whether in the stage shows “Fright Knight” and “Netherhead” or in the show “Darkplace”, Marenghi is an egotistical incompetent who skewers the horror field not simply with self-aware parody but by playing it so broadly that the viewers always know they’re in on the jokes. It’s every bad special effect, horrible piece of writing, stiff acting portrayal, touchless fight scene and flawed editing sequence thrown into one… and all the while, Marenghi and Learner seem genuinely convinced they’re producing the highest-quality viewing available.
The television series can be found online, including on Youtube. Simple quotes don’t do the humor justice, but I’ll provide some anyway:
Garth Marenghi: Salutations friend. I’m Garth Marenghi, horror writer, although I prefer the term ‘dreamweaver’. When I wrote, directed and starred in Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace for television back in the 1980s, I drew deep draughts of inspiration from the dyke of my dreams… Other times I just copied the plots from dead authors on whose work the copyright had lapsed.
Garth Marenghi: I have never exploded. But I know what it would be like. Don’t ask me how. I just know. I’ve always just known.
Dean Learner: Now I don’t know whether someone close to Garth had exploded – whether it was a colleague or a pet – but you could tell that scene meant a lot to him. There were tears on set. Not from Garth. He was strong for the crew. But I wept. I’m not ashamed of that.”
Garth Marenghi: As a writer, I make my own rules up okay. If I wanna start a sentence with a full-stop I will. If I want to highlight social prejudice, I will, but I’ll do it my way. And sometimes you actually have to be a bigot, in order to bring down bigger bigots.
Garth Marenghi: “The doors of Darkplace were opened. Not the literal doors to the building, most of which were closed, but evil doors, dark doors, doors to the beyond. Doors that were hard to shut because they were abstract and didn’t have handles. They were more like portals, really. From this day on, I’d have to fight these forces of darkness . . . and deal with the burden of day-to-day admin.”
The series has scenes which reference sexuality and violence, so it’s not child-safe… but it is certainly a bit of odd humor for Night Owls.
The question of the night: Who are your favorite comedians?