Mark Sykes’s Sixth Sense Of Humour


From Issue 12 (August 2011)

Jim: Hi folks, this is Jim Dandy and Chris Mascake welcoming you to the End-of-the-World Supreme Devil Face-Off, here at the Arena of Doom, just a few minutes drive out of Bloemfontein. It’s the End Times, and the day has come to decide which actor best portrayed the Devil in cinema and TV in the last hundred years. These are the final few, who have all come through the initials heats to battle it out in their respective teams today. We’ve a great assortment of Lucifers and Satans, and a handful of portrayals that are somewhat open to interpretation.

Chris: Let’s face it, Jim, most actors would jump at the chance to play a prince of hell, and so if a part comes along that gives them that opportunity, they’d be mad not to take it, even if the part is simply the chance to wear some horns and brandish a trident.

Jim: Speaking of princes of hell, Chris, there’s a distinct absence of Beelzebubs here today – I guess we can put that down to Hollywood depicting mostly Satan and Lucifer, and wrongly lumping them both together as simply “The Devil”.

Chris: But so we don’t get too bogged down in the finer details of demonology, Jim, let’s remind ourselves that, in the spirit of all the films and TV shows represented today that like a bit of devilish fun, we’re here to simply enjoy some good-natured competition – and hopefully to see at least see one contender get their brains sucked out through their eye sockets before the day is out.

Jim: I can see our teams getting ready to rumble, Chris, so I think it’s time for a quick recap of the rules. We have four teams of devils today: three teams of three, and one team of four. The ref will decide the first two contenders of the day; after that battle, it’s open house to anyone who wishes to make a challenge. After that, it’s anyone’s guess. But to win the day, the last team standing must have at least two of its members still in the game – in other words, if at any stage during the Face-Off a team only has one member left, they’re out.

Chris: And by ‘out’ we mean vaporized by lightning! I can see the ref coming out now, Jim. Yes – Morgan Freeman himself, winner of last month’s ‘Supreme God Face-Off’, has come out to start the battle.

Jim: I can’t imagine anyone forgetting the day he won, Chris. Has there ever been a more satisfying moment in all of history than watching him rip out Alanis Morissette’s larynx?

Chris: Nope.

Jim: But look – the Face-Off is actually under way now, as the ref has raised his hand, and is calling… ooh, this should be good! Peter Stormare’s Satan, from Constantine, versus – oh, Peter’s in trouble, Chris – Jack Nicholson’s Daryl van Horne from The Witches of Eastwick! What’s your quick prediction, Chris?

Chris: Well Jim, Stormare’s team, the Solid Actors Who Can Do Evil Pretty Well, have some serious muscle in their corner, including Gabriel Byrne, who pretty much had to play Satan in End of Days by virtue of his name alone. They had most of the others shaking in their boots, but not the Big Boys. I think it’s going to be quick and nasty. Nicholson’s coming out right now, full of confidence in his pink dressing gown, and inviting Stormare to take the first hit! It’s as if the son-of-a-bitch already knows what’s going to happen!

Jim: And instead of biting, Chris, Stormare is just trying to give Jack his patent hundred yard stare… it was certainly effective in most of his films, but right now it’s just getting Jack mad.

Chris: Not good! Not good!

Jim: Jack’s taking a run-up… and somehow he was concealing a fireman’s axe underneath that dressing gown, Chris! And he’s buried it in Stormare’s thick skull! Not only has he borrowed from one of his other films, but he’s also turned the tables on Stormare, who bestowed a similar fate on poor Steve Buscemi in Fargo! Is that fair?

Chris: The ref seems to be taking a moment to decide, Jim… and he’s allowed it! The sheer irony of Stormare’s fate has swayed Morgan Freeman, and has sent Nicholson back to his team’s corner of the arena to await the next challenger.

Jim: Ooh, looky here, Chris – everyone’s appetite for victory has been whetted, and now the ‘I Didn’t Know They’d Played the Devil’ team is sending out Jeff Goldblum! And he’s squaring off with Tim Curry’s Darkness, from the ‘Classic Interpretation’ team, and Christ, don’t those horns look impressive! Curry is swinging them back and forth in an attempt to impale Goldblum’s Mr Frost on them – but instead he’s fallen over! Oh, what a disappointment! We always wondered if it would happen when we were watching Legend, and finally, it has. Ridley Scott’s film has now lost the only reason for watching it. But for some reason, Goldblum isn’t finishing him off – he’s sauntering amiably back to his corner and is tagging Gary Oldman to do the job! Out he comes, giggling and capering away, complete with lipstick and tights – and it’s a shotgun to the head for Curry! Messy!

Chris: Poetic justice, if you ask me, Jim – Tony Scott’s short film, Beat the Devil, killing off his brother’s most forgettable film – although we will miss that fabulous performance Tim gave us.

Jim: Sorry, Chris, I’m gonna have to interrupt you there – De Niro, from the Big Boys team, has jumped in and has dealt Oldman a deadly blow from behind with his pretentious cane! I’m assuming that was for stealing his ‘eating a boiled egg as a symbol for the soul’ routine from Angel Heart.

Chris: Of course, Oldman was probably just making homage to De Niro’s Lucifer, but I guess it’s too late now! And what’s this? Viggo Mortensen, leader of the Solid Actors team is coming in, and calling out not one, but two members of the Classic Interpretation team – Ned Flanders and Trey Parker, from The Simpsons and South Park respectively. I guess he thinks that cartoon characters don’t hold much weight when it comes to the Prince of Darkness.

Jim: Look Chris – right now Flanders, who made an appearance as the Devil in season five of The Simpsons, is circling round the back of Viggo Mortensen’s Lucifer from The Prophecy, trying to catch him unawares with that pitchfork, no doubt… and he may even succeed, as Mortensen is being distracted by Trey Parkers’s gay Satan! Is Parker trying to get his phone number?

Chris: I guess that’s what happens when you come up against a hottie like Viggo, Jim.

Jim: And the ref is stepping in – oh, and it’s a double disqualification for the attempted seduction of a fellow competitor! Flanders has disappeared in a puff of smoke, and Parker’s Satan is being told to leave the arena! With Tim Curry’s Darkness already out of the picture, that only leaves Dave Grohl’s Shiny Demon on the team – and so according to the rules, he’s out! The ref has raised his hand… and pow! There goes poor Dave! I’m sure we’ll see him again, though.

Chris: I don’t doubt it, Jim – he’ll probably just form another band. I always wondered whether he really was the Devil in the Tenacious D Tribute video at all, though. Horns, red skin and a forked tongue don’t necessarily a Devil make.

Jim: Um… they sort of do, Chris. And you’re forgetting – it’s Dave Grohl. Do not question the Grohl.

Chris: Point taken, Jim.

Jim: Oh my God, Chris – look what’s happening – the remaining members of the Solid Actors team are making an all-out assault on the Big Boys, and De Niro, Pacino and Nicholson have been caught unawares! Jesus, that’s nasty.

Chris: Can someone actually do that with a thigh bone, Jim? How does it fit in there?

Jim: Hard to say, Chris. But I see that the ref is wisely staying out of the melee until the dust settles. Whoa, there goes Nicholson, as Gabriel Byrne uses a concealed voodoo doll to tear him to bits. But Byrne has left himself open to attack, and De Niro has used his dying breath to – rather fittingly for today’s event – claw his face off with Louis Cyphre’s sexy long nails.

Chris: It’s all coming to an end, Jim. There are two men left standing – Pacino’s John Milton, and Viggo Mortensen! Pacino has started to recite his ‘Rip God a New Asshole’ speech from The Devil’s Advocate, and he’s so loud that – yes – Mortensen’s head has exploded from the sheer volume of Pacino’s voice! What a great way to go!

Jim: But Pacino has to go too, Chris – both Nicholson and De Niro are history. Wham! Out he goes in a crack of divine lightning and a puff of brimstone!

Chris: Leaving only two members of the ‘I Didn’t Know They Played the Devil’ team to duke it out – Jeff Goldblum’s Mr Frost, and the only woman to make the finals, the Italian actress, Rosalinda Celentano.

Jim: I didn’t know she played the Devil, Chris!

Chris: You’re a funny man, Jim. During the whole Face-Off today, she’s been skulking around in the background without anyone realising, much like she did in The Passion of the Christ, and now, instead of attacking Goldblum, she’s simply whispering in his ear… what could she be saying?

Jim: Whatever it is, it’s caused Goldblum to nod reflectively… and he’s walking over to the ref… and he’s given up! Somehow, Celentano’s understated but entirely convincing Satan has used the power of suggestion to win the day! Does that mean that she’s responsible for the best portrayal of the Devil, Chris?

Chris: I know that many people would like to think so, Jim. I also know that she won fair and square today, and now Morgan Freeman is raising her hand and proclaiming her the overall winner. Folks, thanks for joining us today – we’ve had a great time bringing you this Armageddon-level event, and now we can all look forward to the next phase of the earth’s existence.

Jim: Absolutely, Chris. But wait, what’s happening now? The Devil is whispering into Morgan Freeman’s ear!

Chris: This should be interesting… it’s not over yet, folks…

 

Image of Jack Nicholson from Witches of Eastwick ©  Warner Bros

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Mark Sykes

What can be said about Mark Sykes?

Film actor, world traveller, model, novel writer, piano and violin player, ballroom dancer, deep-sea diver – he is none of these things.

Actual achievements include the odd play or musical, avoiding death by starvation through singing to people around London, and completing all three Halo games on ‘legendary’ level.

Literary influences include Philip Pullman, Carl Hiaasen and Iain M. Banks.  Favourite activities include vacuuming, buying stationery, applying sun lotion to total strangers, catoptromancy, going to Paris to see his brother, getting lost in Derbyshire, and trying hard to tell the truth at all.

After being Something Wicked’s “Man In London” he now lives in Cape Town and is enjoying the sun.

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