Mike Maguire takes a bite out of comedy

Former creative and previously one half of a successful directing duo, Mike Maguire is now a high-flying directorial king of comedy in his own right. Here he talks about his work, inspirations and why he owes everything in his life to advertising.

Sitting in late February sunshine in London, Mike Maguire is taking a break from editing a new commercial, reflecting upon his recent history of making people laugh.

“Last year was a good area of where I like to operate in,” he says. “A little bit of absurdity, a little bit of dry humour, where you don’t necessarily see it coming.”

One of his favourites – a solid 10 on the absurd scale – is his ad for Fisherman’s Friend [below], (for Canadian agency Giants & Gentlemen), featuring a grizzled mariner telling a tall tale from the deck of his fishing boat, and a distinctly unrealistic Great White shark. Maguire felt instantly at home with the material. “I grew up on the water, catching bait fish for the local bait tackle shop,” he says. “When I saw the script of the old salt telling the story, and then the guy came in to casting… I was happy.”

The fact that they only had the budget to use a basic shark head prop, then have the fisherman’s brothers flying out of its mouth, did not faze him. “The agency asked me: ‘will this work?’. I said: ‘Will it work? It’s fuckin’ perfect! We’ll get some mannequins, wire, and pull them out.’ And you make something look great from a shoestring budget.”

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