Mark Heap in Four Tet’s “Smile Around The Face”

Compulsively watchable, this simple video will give you a happy-sad feeling. It features my favorite British actor, Mark Heap. Heap got his start as a street-performing juggler, and many will recognize him from his roles in the shows Spaced (where he played Brian), Jam (where he played characters so demented, there’s a Coilhouse Jam appreciation post all of its own), Spine Chillers (as a gothic landlord with a dark secret), Big Train, Green Wing, Brass Eye and many others.  Heap is one of the greats of British surrealist comedy, co-writing many of his sketches and instilling his most memorable characters with a brilliant lunacy that seems to emanate from a very genuine place.

The music video above is not that new, it goes by very fast, and always puts me in a good, though vaguely wistful, sort of mood. A brief description of what you’re about to see, by music reviewer Ryan Dombal:

The entirety of the day-in-the-life short focuses on Heap’s head as he falls down bus stairs, see-saws with his toddler daughter, and finally sinks into a soothing bath. Ostensibly wearing a camera harnessed to his person (the same magnetizing technique recently employed to great effect by Pi director Darren Aronofsky), the whole thing is a fascinating face study with the middle-aged thespian’s worn creases and bluish bruises giving the camera gobs to work with. Heap manages to convey the heartbreak of a divorced dad, the workman’s daily grind, and, lastly, the song’s titular relieved expression with startling believability, making his nameless centerpiece a rare music video character worth caring about.

Perhaps this week more than others, seeing the red double-decker buses and London streetcorners in the background of the video adds to the mild nostalgia induced by this clip. See, everyone’s been asking me “Hey, Nadya! How’s London?” In a nutshell, the move fell through. To make a long story short: one day after I arrived to the UK, finally completing the relocation that had been carefully planned for more than a year, our London office was shut down (for economic reasons). I was forced to return the US. Luckily, my company was generous enough to offer a relocation package to any US city where we still had an office. I chose San Francisco. I’m excited. No use in crying over spilled milk, right? London will always be there, and one day I’ll return. In the meantime: Yay Area, here I come!

But back to the amazing Mark Heap. Enjoy the video! I’ve posted some more theatrical, fun and deranged moments from various points in Heap’s acting career after the jump.

“The Two Marks” – Mark Heap got his start as part of this juggling comedy duo. In the clip above, Mark and his partner Mark Saban try to upstage each other in a performance on Saturday Live. In another performance at Viva Cabaret circa 1993, their one-upmanship ended in tragedy and murder. While Heap pursued acting, Saban became a Jungian psychologist.


A sketch from Big Train about three doomed WWII pilots (Heap, Simon Pegg & Kevin Eldon) talking to the same radio operator (Amelia Bullmore) as their planes descend to their doom.


Another Big Train sketch in which Heap turns a televised debate with a feminist scholar into an uproarious musical number.


Unspoken telepathy – Mark Heap kicks off one of the most classic and memorable scenes in Spaced.


Mr. Lizard – I posted this one before in the Jam post, but I’m reposting it here because this is the clip that made me realize Mark Heap is a genius.


A short Big Train sketch that makes me feel better about not being in London.


Straight Sex. “Hi! You called for an escort?”


Weird Therapist/Weird Magician

5 Responses to “Mark Heap in Four Tet’s “Smile Around The Face””

  1. Jerem Morrow Says:

    Me heap glad for Heap! Odd, how everyday epic this little journey seems. I really do feel we’ve gone on a trek together. Top work, this.

    p.s. Fourtet (and the kindred Xela, if y’haven’t heard ‘em) is joy.

  2. Hern Worsley Says:

    Ah so glad to see somone else recognise Mark Heap as a genius golden thread throughout so many of my favourite comedy shows. I have been watching Green Wing again recently and his character in that show is probably my favourite comedic character of all time closely followed by Alan Partridge!

    Love Four Tet too so great to see this vid thankyou :)

  3. Mer Says:

    HEAP FTW. He has the most lovable face.

    Aw, sweetie! One can’t help but make a parallel between the battered optimism displayed in that clip, and your current status. I for one am overjoyed that you’re going to keep the Coilhouse torch lit in the bay area, and I can’t wait to see you when I’m back there for a couple months next year.

    *CUDDLES*

  4. Zoetica Says:

    You’ll love San Francisco, Nadya! And what a wonderful collection of videos – I was laughing the whole time. Genius. Also, I love the music in the first clip.

  5. Wood Says:

    Mark Heap is always brilliant. I’m surprised you didn’t include anything from Green Wing, where he played a kinky/nerdy doctor. Also, I wonder if you knew that he recently played Charles Dickens in the BBC’s recent Desperate Romantics, which was a right hoot. I suspect you would enjoy it a lot.