Features & News

Interview: Rufus Hound

March 30, 2010, Author: Neil Hughes

Rufus Hound has been a very busy chap over the last few years as a familiar face on the stand-up circuit, and gamers out there may remember him from the gaming show Playr.

A few of you may recall seeing him on the Glastonbury Festival coverage, Top of the Pops or Celebrity Juice but he is probably best known for being the Blue Team Captain on the TV series “Argumental” or for dressing up as Cheryl Cole and dancing to Fight For This Love for 2010’s “Let’s Dance” for Sport Relief.

Rufus is also a keen gamer and comic fan, so we hunted him down for an interview and luckily for us he obliged.

Q. What performance are you most proud of? Your interpretation of ‘Fight For This Love’ via the medium of dance for Sport Relief or your Gears of War 2 rap for Playr a few years ago?

“HA! I’m just glad someone saw it. I loved doing Playr, and the GoW rap was definitely the highlight of my time on that show, but I’d have to go for the Cole dance. I spent so long rehearsing it and got a chance to really get it right, whereas Playr had a budget of about a pound so I had about nine minutes to record the rap from a standing start. With a bit more rehearsal, I reckon I’d be hanging out with Snoop Dogg by now. Fo’shizz.”

Q. As a viewer I always got the impression that everyone on Playr including yourself were passionate about gaming, was that the case?

“Absolutely. Thing was, the budget was so tight there wasn’t an army of researchers, there were about three dudes who did everything, which meant they’d be gaming for about forty hours a week on top of their day job producing the show. Then I’d swan in and lay down the voiceover in about an hour. Then I’d go to Game and buy half of the titles I’d just been talking about because I wanted to see whether I agreed with the reviews. Most of the time I reckon the show got it right.”

Q. Any funny stories from your time on the show?

“Remember, I just sat in a booth reading the script so there wasn’t too much to go ‘hilariously awry’. That said, the recordings were always a good laugh, but more in a blokey banter-y way, than a “I’ll-never-forget-the-time-James-beheaded-himself-with-the-nunchuck-wire” way.”

Q. Where did your love affair with gaming begin?

“Mario. I know I’m not alone in that, but one Christmas, my Dad bought me and my brother a NES with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Super Mario Bros 2 on it, and that was it. I was in. I only weep that a new generation of gamers will never know the pleasure of cartridge based gaming. Unless they own a DS. Which most of them do. Okay… scratch that last bit.”

Q. What’s your console of choice?

“Before I had a kid it was 360 all the way, but since he turned up I don’t get those long stretches of time to sit an become immersed in a game, so it tends to be Wii: short bursts, complete a couple of levels of something and then off, before my missus kills herself out of boredom. That said, I still own all three consoles, and my camper van’s getting a PS3 Slim mounted in it so I can sit playing Guitar Hero in the car park at Glastonbury.”

Q. What kind of games do you enjoy most?

“I like a platformer, with Super Mario Galaxy as probably the greatest game I’ve ever played. It had everything, puzzles, secrets, replay value and a physics engine that was intuitive but mind-bending. Man, I love that fucking plumber.”

Q. What is your favourite game soundtrack?

“If I say Mario again, will you hate me? Come on, it’s one of the very few game soundtracks that even non-gamers could sing/whistle, maybe Tetris too. Though I do I remember the fist time I played Tomb Raider, and that sweeping orchestral score elevated the whole experience. Even with the blocky graphics of the PSOne, it felt epic.”

Q. What is your favourite gaming memory?

“For me, the notion social gaming is about having people engaged in a game in the same room, at the same time. I remember standing next to the Puzzle Bobble machine at college waiting for my chance to beat the college champ (I never did), being taught all Blanka’s combos by my best mate Steve (he plays Zangief better than anyone I know), and plenty of drunken nights with various winner stays on challenges on everything from Mario Kart to Boom Blox. The clincher had to be New Years Eve 2004 when five of us couldn’t be arsed to go out, so we set up a massive Dance Dance Revolution tournament in our flat. It was the most sober we’d ever been on New Years Eve; we were all sweating so much the alcohol couldn’t get a foothold on us.

Then there are the personal achievements. Anyone whose defeated an end boss on any game knows that, as the credits start to roll, you want to run out into the street, grab people by the lapels and scream your victory at them. You also know that that isn’t a good plan, if you want to stay out of prison and stuff, so you just sit there, bursting with pride at your own brilliance. When I completed Piccross, I actually considered throwing a party for myself.”

Q. What is your favourite game from last year?

“You know I want to say Super Mario Bros Wii, right? Apart from that I loved Beatles Rock band (I must have watched the intro video alone about 200 times and forced anyone whose come to my house in the last year to do likewise), World of Goo was excellent and Harbour Master for the iPhone is wicked.”

Q. Is there anything that you are excited about in the coming months?

“Okay. Fine. You’re going to make me sound like a know-nothing idiot, aren’t you? Fine... fine… Super Mario Galaxy 2.”

TIMJ: Tattoo advisor to the stars!

Q. What’s your opinion on the Infinity Ward/Activision split?

“The same as any other corporation that shears into its component parts; I don’t care. The way I figure it, creative types will always find a way of bring us their next great idea and the notion than any business cares about the end product over the bottom line is bullshit. So what does it mean really? That we’ll have to hand over cash to Firm B instead of Firm A. Whoop-de-doo.  The more exciting thing for me is the prospect of a real return to homebrew gaming. Marketplace, Wiiware; all that stuff means that the people who really understand games can mainline them directly to your console is wicked. Get the marketing people out of the way and let the artists make a few quid. For anyone who disagrees, I give you one word. Braid.”

Q. Activision recently announced that extra maps for Modern Warfare 2 will be 1200ms Points (£10.20) is this too much?

“Obviously, but will people still buy them? Of course. Basic economics 101: If people will pay a tenner, don’t sell it for a fiver.”

Q. Where did you find inspiration for your of tattoo of robots fighting monkeys?

“This is a long one, but in a nutshell, I have a theory that there’s a uniquely modern malaise caused by the fact that we are smart apes forced by business and government to organise our lives in a way that benefits computers, and by extension, themselves. That we are monkeys (evolved apes, really) fighting robots.”

Q. I recently saw this pic of Batman, with a lightsabre fighting a shark, maybe it could inspire you to have another tattoo?

“Hahaha! Aces! Actually, I was thinking my next tattoo might be a lion fighting a shark with a smoking hot lady holding the lion’s tale. It was an attempt to conjure up the most manly image I could think of :)”

Q. I hear you dabble with comics too, what’s the most you have ever paid for a comic?

“I paid £30 for an issue 1 of Preacher about ten years ago. If there’s any of your readers that haven’t read Ennis’ masterpiece, you can get the trade paperbacks out at the library now. It’s awesome, and for me, cuts to the quick of religion.”

Q. Who would win in a fight between Superman and the Hulk?

“Obviously Superman. Superman is the answer to any of these questions. He’s fucking Superman. That’s his whole point. He could toss The Hulk to the furthest reaches of space. That’s a win in my book.”

Q. It has been said that you should never meet your heroes, have you ever met someone you admired only to be disappointed or not actually like them?

“When I was a kid, my Dad recorded the Muppet show every week, and I watched it on a loop. My favourite episode stars Chris Langham, who was forced to step in at short notice after Richard Prior set himself on fire with his crack pipe. It ends with Langham locked in a wardrobe, sawing a hole in it, singing ‘I love you Hawaiian Cowboy’ as about of ton of peanuts fill the wardrobe. It’s absolutely insane, still one of my favourite pieces of television ever, and very possibly the reason that I grew up wanting to make people laugh. Cut to twenty-odd years later, and at a BBC party, I meet Chris Langham. I got to thank him for a moment that defined my childhood and he was very nice about it.

Literally 10 days later, he was being charged for child sex offences. Whilst he didn’t disappoint in the flesh (although neither did he dazzle, maybe he had other things on his mind), the thrill of having met him, crushed so soon afterward by his exposure for such deep unpleasantness, was really saddening. In that regard, I can genuinely say it’d have been better to have never met him.”

Q. Fellow celebrity gamer Dom Joly’s ‘people’ said he was too busy for an interview, can you lean on him for us?

“Maybe if there weren’t so many bloody questions, he’d be more into it. I’ve been doing this for ages.”

Q. Do you ever secretly find yourself wishing you could shoot at gas tanks?

“No, but I do wish I had a laser in my finger that could effortlessly slice through things.”

Q. If you are going to Glastonbury this year there will be a pint of Brothers Pear cider Festival Strength waiting for you by the Jazz World Stage from me with your name on it, see you there?

“I’ll be the one with the moustache. See you there :)”

We have taken far too much of the Hound’s time, so give him a huge thank you for the interview and hope I don’t get a restraining order thrown my way when I am next seen stalking him at Glastonbury. I am sure more than a few of you out there are more than tempted to flick to the DAVE channel now so until the next time it’s goodnight from me.