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Series / Snuff Box

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I can't be in love if it's plastic
To live on my own just seems tragic
But we'll raise our swords high when our day comes
We thought it was gold but it was bronze.

Snuff Box is a bawdy and truly bizarre Sketch Comedy/Brit Com, starring Englishman Matt Berry and American Rich Fulcher, who work as hangmen and spend time at a gentleman's club. (Evidently, the series takes place in a world in which hanging still survives as an institution). Each episode has a main plot and other one plot and other sketches of tangential relevance. Adding to the confusion, almost every character has the same name as their actor, so it's difficult to tell which Matt/Rich it is you're watching, but the show is funny enough that you don't care.

The show was reliant on Running Gags that, though hilarious, probably would have gotten old eventually were it not for British Brevity. The series was commissioned as a replacement for another show, Popetown, which was axed because of backlash from Catholics; the BBC gave Berry and Fulcher complete creative freedom on the condition that it would (most likely) not be brought back after its original run of six episodes. It was not recommissioned.

Also see Garth Marenghis Darkplace, most of whose cast have appeared on this show at one time or another, and The Mighty Boosh, which also features Messrs. Berry and Fulcher as a comic duo with a similar dynamic.

Tropes used include:

  • The Ace: Matt is better than Rich at everything. When he's not around Rich, though, he can be just as much a Chew Toy as anyone.
  • The Alcoholic: Quite aside from the regular "Whiskyyyyyyy!" orders, Matt does spend a lot of time on the show getting absolutely plastered.
    Rich Fulcher: Do you remember when we had that amazing night at Belushi's?
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: A core tenet of Rich's personality, especially when Wormwood brings in the regular harem.
  • Bedroom Adultery Scene: Happens as part of a fake commercial for "Awkward Moments" coffee.
  • Beleaguered Assistant: Wormwood doesn't seem so enthusiastic about having to play Russian Roulette.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Jimi Hendrix is very patient with an obliviously abusive Rich, until he snaps and basically turns into Samuel L. Jackson.
    Show me some respect, motherfucker!
  • British Brevity: Only one season of six episodes was ever made.
  • Broken Record: "Henry! Person of the year... Henry! Person of the year... Henry! Person of the year..."
  • Brother–Sister Incest: After hundreds of failed phone calls, Rich resorts to inviting his sister out to a theatre double-date with Matt.
    Rich Fulcher: "I'm a grrrrrrreat kisser!"
  • Catchphrase:
    • Rich:
    "I'm a great kisser!"
    • Matt:
    "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."
    "We often sup from the same font."
  • Caught with Your Pants Down: "What about that time you got caught in your dad's study, jerking off over a map of Scotland?"
    • One sketch involves a psychiatrist's secretary who, after checking that the coast is clear, begins smooching on his hand passionately. Cue the quick pan out, revealing a frustrated patient who had been standing over him the entire time
  • The Chew Toy: On Matt's quest to get his silver cowboy boots back from the cleaners, he is brutally beaten by store attendants, including a man from Oop North, a Camp Gay black man who knows martial arts, and a Violent Glaswegian.
    • Rich is also an example, as in the episode where he goes blind.
  • Cluster F-Bomb
  • Coitus Uninterruptus
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Matt's first three attempts to pick up his silver cowboy boots end like this.
  • Deaf Composer: Matt's brother is a successful musician despite being 80% deaf. This may have something to do with the fact that he sings entirely in synthesizer noises.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: When the duo end up presenting golf. Somehow.
    Rich: Good morning. And afternoon. Welcome to the British Open... where golfers and golfing come together... for golfing.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: Matt wrote all the original music for the show, and he and Rich sing it.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: As an art gallery tour guide, played by Fulcher.
  • Eagle Land: Rich is not so much an American as a British caricature of an American: uncouth, inconsiderate, culturally illiterate and foul-mouthed (even by the show's standards). His brother (also played by Rich) is even worse.
  • Easily Forgiven: When Matt is caught having sex with the bride at Rich's wedding.
  • Establishing Series Moment: From the beginning of the first episode:
    Rich: "Sorry I'm late. Are we early?"
    Matt: "No idea. I've lost my watch."
    • They then arrive at an execution chamber where Matt hangs a man, contrary to the illegality of capital punishment in England. As John Teti notes in his A.V. Club retrospective, it's the perfect setup for the shambling and surreal journey through disconnected moments in time and space that follows.
  • Fall of the House of Cards: Matt destroys Rich's house of cards as he's finishing the last 2 cards with a table kick, and proceeds to laugh in his face.
  • Funny Background Event: In the first episode whilst Rich is on a date with girl, he can also be briefly seen as he runs behind her wearing a top hat.
  • Gallows Humour: Often literally.
  • "Everybody Laughs" Ending: The series concludes with this when everyone spots Matt having sex with Rich's bride over a balcony.
  • Hammerspace: Where did Matt get that cavalry sabre?
  • Hollywood Heart Attack: Not quite, but nonetheless, Rich collapses to the floor in agonizing pain and goes blind in one eye after drinking some homebrew beer he made.
  • Hollywood Tourette's: In stereo!
  • Identical Grandson: Well, great-nephew. Sir Charles looks exactly like Matt, and his valet, Wormwood, looks exactly like the club's current valet, Ken. How the latter two are related is unclear.
    • Also, Matt's brother is played by Matt, and Rich's brother by Rich. Rich also plays his character's mother, Mama Cass.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: "Now Mr. Rich, you said you wanted to dash off to eat a pie. Might I tempt you with one of mine?" [motions to gaggle of topless prostitutes]
  • I Need to Go Iron My Dog: Rich often shouts "My neighbour has been kidnapped!" before fleeing an awkward situation. Matt on the other hand typically doesn't care enough to bother making excuses, and just wanders off.
  • The Jeeves: Ken and Wormwood
  • Jerkass: Essentially everybody, but particularly Rich's brother
    Rich: Matt, you know how you used to call me a prick?
    Mat: I never stopped calling you a prick.
    Rich: Yeah, well this guy is King Pricko. Of Pricksburg, Cockachusetts.
  • Kick the Dog: Quite literally in one of the Boyfriends sketches.
  • Large Ham: Matt Berry
  • Larynx Dissonance: In the final episode, Rich falls in love with (and marries) a woman named Grendel, who, though beautiful, speaks entirely in dubbed-in chimpanzee noises.
    • In an earlier episode, Rich and Matt are accidentally speaking in each other's voices. Alcohol quickly cures them.
    • In the episode where Rich beats Matt to the punchlines of his own jokes, Rich briefly speaks in Matt's voice when copying his introduction to the joke
  • Looping Lines: Deliberately invoked, and deliberately terrible.
  • Mood Dissonance: "The Empty Room", a song Matt wrote after his brother committed suicide, and then plays on The Old Grey Whistle Test hosted by Richard Ayoade, quickly turns into an instrumental glamrock piece
  • Nipple and Dimed: Nipples, either male or female, are not an uncommon sight.
  • Not in Front of the Kid: subverted in one of the censor sketches. Although we only hear the dialogue, what sounds like a pornographic scene is interrupted when the female participant's young son comes into the room. They decide to let him watch. The censors think it's hilarious.
  • Not Quite Starring: Quite a few impersonations, including Christopher Lee as a porn star, David Bowie (played by Alice Lowe), Charles Manson, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis, David Beckham, and others.
  • Running Gag: Quite a few.
    • One particularly delightful one is that Matt will be hitting on a beautiful woman, often carrying something for her, when she will mention her boyfriend, causing him to matter-of-factly announce "Fuck you!", drop whatever he was carrying, and leave.
    • A subtler one is the frequent references to rabbits, particularly when being eaten.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "YOU! WILL! NOT! TITTER!"
  • On the Next: "In the Snuff Box next time..."
  • Once per Episode: Rich ends up travelling in time instead of taking a piss, Matt's great uncle resolves a problem, and the scene ends when Wormwood returns with prositutes.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Rich is given a birthday present by "Ricky from the office."
    • Matt's Victorian tour guide walks off the job after getting a call from his agent about a part in Starlight Express.
    • "The Diary Song" has Matt in zombie makeup pulling off some Jacko-esque dance moves.
  • Sinister Minister: A fairly mild example: Alan Ford (best known as Brick Top in Snatch.) plays a foul-mouthed, hard-drinking priest. So far as we know, he's not really evil, though.
  • Status Quo Game Show: Rich and Matt go on a quiz show. It doesn't go well. Mostly because they didn't prepare in the slightest.
  • Take That!: A fairly playful one at the beginning of the first episode:
    Rich: [as a crimp] I haven't got a bean, but my shoes are clean!
    Matt: What the hell is that?
    Rich: Oh, it's just an old song...
  • Title Drop: In the full version of the theme song:
    So I guess it's goodbye now it's over
    Nothing much changed, we're just older
    But if I see you again back in detox
    Put my remains in my snuffbox
  • Time Travel: Once an Episode, Rich goes through a door marked "1888", which takes him to Victorian London where he meets the club's founder and Matt's great-uncle, Sir Charles Berry, who gives him advice and showers him in prostitutes. Sir Charles is subtly intended to be Jack the Ripper.
  • Tomato Surprise: The identity of Matt's father
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Rich is an obnoxious, idiotic Cloud Cuckoolander, while Matt is a boorish alcoholic Jerkass.
  • Unusual Euphemism: "Effin' and a-jeffin'", for swearing
    Rich: Hey, wait a minute. He just effed.
    Alan Ford: 'Course I did. I'm a fucking priest, ain't I?
  • Violent Glaswegian: Matt literally gets beaten to near death with a cricket bat by a violent Glaswegian sales assistant.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: An extremely charitable interpretation of the relationship between Matt and Rich.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: A particularly... chunky one when Rich is on Mastermind.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Matt's reaction to Rich's reading of his diary In Song...