Even though movie fans are crying out for something original, it’s hard to imagine a tougher challenge than pitching a movie about Muslim suicide bombers – a comedy about Muslim suicide bombers – but British satirist Chris Morris has pulled it off in his directorial feature debut, Four Lions.

“It makes me sound like a fool when I say I had no hesitations, but after getting into the research I knew enough to feel that making this film was not taking a copy of the Koran and chucking it into a sewer,” Morris says. “Most Muslims stare at these people (suicide bombers) in shock and dismay as much as anyone else, and the most common response I got from British Muslims when I said, ‘By the way, this will be a comedy about jihadis,’ was that they said, ‘Bring it on.’ That was what emboldened me and ushered me forward.”

Set in an unspecified town in the northern part of England, Four Lions is the story of four Muslims – Omar (Riz Ahmed), Hassan (Arsher Ali), Waj (Kayvan Novak) and British convert Barry (Nigel Lindsay) – who decide that the time has come to put their plan into action: They’ll attack the London marathon. Unfortunately, Omar is the only one with any real brains, and the cell quickly starts to unravel – cue the exploding crows, the bickering and the bizarre party costumes.

With the continual round of screenings and interviews, Morris admits that he’s “sort of brainwashed himself” into a place where he can only talk about Four Lions, and this dynamic also came into play during shooting.

“The actors and us all lived in the same hotel, and we sort of realized that we were forming a parallel cell in real life, which had morphed out of the group dynamics you see on screen,” he explains. “Literally, it would have been possible to convince them to do anything by the end.”

Morris was initially inspired by a story he read about a plan to ram a U.S. warship with a boat filled with explosives. The cell loaded up the boat, launched it into the water and then watched it sink.

“I read about a guy last week trying to deliver bombs in Indonesia,” he goes on. “He was cycling to his target and he swerved to avoid a hole in the road, hit a lamppost and exploded. To see such frailties means that they’re not hard-wired, alien, not 100 percent of the mineral evil. It’s more complicated than that. Laughing doesn’t make the situation change, but it helps to see that this stuff is often a lot more ridiculous than you think.”

Four Lions had been well received in the U.K., but coming to the United States – and especially the first screening in New York – was more nerve-racking.

“They of all people have a right to respond to this in a sensitive way, but not at all. ‘Yeah come on, we’ve got over this. This actually happened to us years ago, so we’re the last people on earth to still be mithering [bother] about it. We’re cool with this; it’s everyone else who needs to catch up.’ In screenings in Britain we had people in the army, who had lost friends in Afghanistan and Iran to suicide bombers, who laughed all the way through the film.”

Famous and infamous in his native Britain as a comedian and broadcaster who regularly courted controversy, Morris seemed pleased not to be in that place with Four Lions.

“Pissing people off is incredibly boring, because it’s just a binary switch,” he says. “It’s fine the first time you do it, then it becomes really dull and there’s no gray area. I’ve just been pleased not to have to deal with idiots deliberately misunderstanding what the film’s about.”

There is, however, the moment in Four Lions when things start to take a more serious turn, and Morris wondered if there’s a scale regarding how much laughter is allowed when characters die.

“People blow themselves up, people die, how far do you go? But [the] explosions – we’ve seen them before in films. I mean really, how many of those have you seen in your lifetime? Eight million?”

As for the tricky question of getting funding and distribution, Morris did get asked one question several times: Could it be about people who are sort of like Muslims, but could you make up a religion?

“But then you’re doing ‘Battlestar Galactica’ or Dune,” Morris says. “The most absurd thing was having a conversation with a man, on the phone, who was hiding in a stationery cupboard. He called from there because his board was split, and he didn’t want the others to hear that they could make this happen.”

Four Lions releases in select theaters Nov. 5.