Andy Samberg Interview – HOT ROD

     August 3, 2007

First of all a big apology to Paramount for my delay in posting the interviews from “Hot Rod.” For some reason I thought the movie came out next weekend, otherwise I would’ve posted this much sooner. Again, sorry.

But now why we’re here. I recently got to sit down for roundtable interviews with the most of the cast and the interview below is with Andy Samberg, the star of the film.

I’m a huge fan of Andy from his work with The Lonely Island as well as his digital shorts on “Saturday Night Live.” While you may not know his name, by now most of you have seen “Dick in a Box” or “Lazy Sunday,” two clips that made SNL cross into pop culture for the first time in years. And while “Hot Rod” hasn’t been getting the greatest reviews, I laughed a ton while watching and I’m quite sure it’ll be a huge hit on DVD.

Anyway, during the interview Andy talks about how the project came together, singing with Justin Timberlake at Madison Square Garden, what’s going on with Laser Cats and a ton more. If you’re a fan of Andy you’ll dig the interview.

As always, you can either read the transcript or download the audio of the interview by clicking here. It’s an MP3 so you can easily place it on an iPod or any portable device. And if you missed all the movie clips I already posted you can click here to watch them.

Finally, due to running out of time, I won’t have transcripts up with Isla Fisher, Ian McShane or Bill Hader, Danny Mcbride and Jorma Taccone. So if you’d like to hear what they said just click on their names for the MP3’s.

And with that, here’s Andy.

Question: Was ‘Dick in a Box’ nominated or an Emmy this past week?

Andy Samberg: It was, who knew?

When did you find out?

No, I have been on the road doing press for this and all of a sudden I woke up and there were 20 texts from people being like, ‘You got nominated for an Emmy!’ And obviously we didn’t even realize that was a possibility, so, it was cool. ‘You mean for a song about putting your dick in a box?’ Yeah, it’s pretty cool man. It’s very ridiculous.

Don’t you have several shorts nominated?

I don’t think so. That’s the only one I have been alerted about.

You had no idea when that was becoming a phenomenon that this could become a possibility?

Not really. I mean, you know that ‘SNL’ is up for stuff and that there’s a chance there, but I think maybe Mike Shoemaker, he’s one of our producers, had mentioned it to us once or twice. ‘Y’know, there’s a category for songs.’ But we did ‘Lazy Sunday’ the year before and nothing happened with that. So, we figured it just wasn’t…

Are you guys going to perform it at the Emmys then?

If they ask us to. Dude. Call the Emmy’s I’m game. I would love to go do it. I did at Madison Square with Justin and that was pretty sick. I did it at I would like to redeem myself and not be out of tune so much.

Why do you think that became such a hit?

I dunno. I mean…you got to think because it’s Timberlake signing on it – he’s a hit maker. You know what I mean? That guy just doesn’t make a bad song. I dunno. I guess the world was really at place where they wanted to hear a song about putting your dick in a box. (Laughs.)

What was it like performing at Madison Square Garden?

It was trippy. The one thing I always say about it, while it was happening I was thinking to myself, ‘Comedy guys don’t get to do stuff like this.’ You know what I mean? That’s reserved for like cool dudes with real talent. And we just kind of backed our way into there. It was weird, 18,000 screaming ladies. So, it was like how I always imagined it would be when I was in High School. When I was sitting in the park by myself. (Laughs.)

Correct me if I’m wrong, but this script has been around awhile. You guys write, so when you have a script like this how much of your own stuff goes into it?

Well, it was written by Pam Brady who co-wrote the ‘South Park’ movie and ‘Team America’ which are two of our favorite movies and it was originally developed for Will Ferrell. I guess it was ’99 or something when she wrote it? So, it definitely had been around, so, just on that alone there were adjustments we had to make because it had been six years. A lot of other movies had come out and sort of — things had been done since then. If you actually read her originally script, there are so many movies that came out since she wrote that she was ahead of the game. It was actually kind of crazy. But, y’know, the first thing we had to do was wake it something I was comfortable performing and so it didn’t seem like I was doing a bad Will Ferrell impression. And I think we got away with that. (Laughs.) And from that point on it that it was just making it something Akiva was comfortable directing and as we went along, we never stop writing what we do. As we are shooting, we are throwing things out there. We threw every idea and weird bit that we had into it while staying to the original idea and characters Pam had put in place.

So, was the ‘Footloose’ montage originally in it?

No, we added that.

And what was the inspiration for that…

No, like many years a go Akiva and I were just watching ‘Footloose’ on cable and I was like, ‘This scene is amazing!’ Like the idea is so angry and furious with rage that he has to dance! (Laughs.) And we actually – like, me and Akiva and Jorma we have written a bunch of other stuff together and we had that scene in a few other things before this project that never got made, but when we got to ‘Hot Rod’ I was like, ‘We can do the ‘Footloose’ scene!’

Was the stepfather subplot all part of it from the beginning?

Yeah, more than anything, that was Pam’s creation. The thing that hooked us on her script originally was that you’ve got this standard story of he’s a guy whose gotta grow and overcome his thing to save his stepfather, so he can kick his ass. It wasn’t just like, ‘And he’s got to save him because he loves him.’ It was like, ‘He’s got to save him because he fuckin’ hates him.’ You know what I mean? Just the twisted logic of that. We always like leaps of logic in terms of what’s driving the story. We think that’s a lot more interesting.

What was it like working with Ian McShane?

Um, it was great. He’s actually a really dapper, sweet man even though he’s really good at playing bad asses. But he would play around with it. Like, even today he was running the game of pretending that he liked Jorma more than me and just making me so mad! (Laughs.) But I dunno, with him, the second the three of us met him – it was just instant — we just got along with him really well and he totally got what we were about and was into it which we could feel which just made it feel more comfortable.

Making the leap from SNL to the movies can be difficult. Did you look at any of your predecessors to see what worked and what didn’t?

I think, I dunno that I would site any specific examples, but all the ones we’ve liked are people who really stayed true to what they are about. There are obviously different levels of types of comedy in terms of how much you are taking to story and heart and comedy. All of our favorite movies are a lot of time people’s first movies where you can tell it’s this sort of explosion random weird crap they have been saving up their whole lives. Movies like ‘The Jerk,’ ‘Ace Ventura,’ ‘Billy Madison,’ ‘Pee Wee’s Big Adventure’ – stuff like that. Just crazy movies where you can tell they had all these ideas and they were just like ‘Screw it, let’s just do it!’ So, we wanted it to be something like that. And for us, and what we’re about, I think we did a pretty good job.

How do you make sure your next one isn’t the ‘Little Nicky’s’ or ‘Cable Guys’?

A lot of people think ‘The Cable Guy’ is a classic. There is gonna be a beat down in here. You all had my back on that one. I mean, honestly don’t know. I’m gonna have to see if they will let us make another one, y’know what I mean? We’re kind of just focusing on this, but it’s tricky. For people that I’ve looked up to, they have all gone through ebbs and flows in their movie careers. Now, that I’m actually in it a little bit, I understand the desire to do something different. Even as early now, having done this movie, I think personally I want to keep doing weird stuff, I don’t think I have really proven myself in terms of comedy yet. Like, I’m proud of the stuff we’ve done and proud of what we’ve done, but all I’ve ever wanted to do is comedy and I think that takes a lot of hard work and dedication for people to figure out what you’re about respond to it if they are going to. So, you have to stick with it I think. But, eventually, who knows? I mean everyone experiments and has missteps and that’s just part of growing up and working in the industry I think. That’s just sort of how it goes.

So, did you guys film the movie last summer?

Yeah, in Vancouver.

Did you try to get more ‘SNL’ people in it?

Right, right. I mean, everybody was really cool about it, they were just like, ‘That’s so awesome you’re making a movie!’ No one was like, ‘Put me in it.’ Also, because I think everyone in the show right now is working outside of the show, like the whole cast is awesome and they are all being rewarded which is pretty cool. With roles like Hader and Parnell, like, they just fit perfectly into the movie and Hader had done that character for me the first time he met. He’s basically just doing a friend of his. And the whole acid story is a true story. Like my Rod character is Bill in real life. He went to go pick up his buddy and he had a huge thing in his eye and was like super calm about it. And that was like the first story Bill ever told me, so when we got on the movie I’m like ‘Dude, we should do that Bill story’ (Laughs.) And obviously it worked out because we cast him as the guy. And Parnell, we did ‘Lazy Sunday’ with him and we just feel like he’s amazing and may be one of the most underrated dudes in comedy and we felt really lucky to have him. I feel like he kills it. He just shows up and lights up a movie.

Obviously, you shot a lot of material, is there an R-rated version of this movie?

Yeah, I mean, hopefully we’ll throw a lot of stuff on the DVD, we haven’t had a chance to start on that. I mean, PG-13, get one F-bomb and just for safety’s sake I think we shot five or six. And y’know, sometimes they just kind of happen. But yeah, there is definitely a lot of weird stuff that got cut out, but not really because we were contained by the rating, more just because we were looking for a nice rhythm in the movie and a lot of that weird stuff was slowing it down in a way that kind of hurt it overall we thought.

What are you doing during the ‘SNL’ hiatus?

This. As soon as ‘SNL’ ended – the three of us were heavily involved in the editing, the sound mix and the sound design and the color correction. Like, we are very hands on dudes which can be a little bit maddening for us, because there are no breaks, we were trying to edit in all our off weeks during the season. The season ended and we went into final editing the movie and all those aspects. And we did that and as soon as that happened I started doing press. I think I have been on the road for two and a half, three weeks now.

Are you ever worried that things are a little too out there? That people won’t get it?

I mean, yes and no. I mean we are definitely aware that when you do something as strange as coolbeans that some people are going to be like, ‘What?’ And be annoyed, ‘This isn’t taking itself seriously at all.’ Where as us, it’s like This isn’t taking itself seriously at all!’ That’s the joy of it. But, I mean, it’s interesting and we sat in on the test screenings and stuff as well to help us in the editing and figuring out what was playing and what wasn’t. And pretty much every scene in the movie that I would describe as my favorite part and a lot of the audience would put down as their favorite part was someone’s least favorite part. I think that’s just a byproduct of being memorable. So, when you are listing something, ‘Oh, what do I remember? That song.’ Y’know what I mean? But it’s definitely hard for certain people to let go of this is the real world and crazy things can’t happen and the fourth wall can’t be broken down. But on a personal level that’s always my favorite thing. Like, anytime you make something that is encouraging ridiculousness and surrealism and taking things less seriously, is my favorite kind of comedy.

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In the 80’s and ‘90’s it was the one funny guy in the movie? The last ten years has been a group of funny guys? Why do you think that’s changed?

I’m not sure. I mean I can tell you from the creative side, it’s just that we know so many awesome people. If I am making a movie and I know I’ve got this friend who is hilarious, I want to put him in there. It is just going to make everybody look better. I don’t know if the public prefers one to another, but one thing I will says is when I am watching a movie, I’d much rather see a movie where everyone is funny than one person, because you just have a better chance at laughing. And of course, movies like ‘Knocked Up’ and ‘Anchorman,’ that kind of stuff and like everyone in ‘Anchorman’ is hilarious. Once that tone is set, it’s hard not to want to keep it up like that.

But, do you think you are coming from a certain place comedically? A different generation?

Possibly, it’s a lot of nice guys and girls who like each other. So, it’s been interesting. A lot of people talk to us and they want to pit everyone against each other. Y’know what I mean? Like, young people just starting to have success, ‘So what’s going on with this competition between ‘Hot Rod’ and ‘Superbad’?’ And it’s like ‘What competition? You mean our good friends who are in ‘Superbad’? And Bill who is in both? We want both those movies to do great. I saw that movie, we love everyone in that movie. It’s amazing. It’s more for us just like this fun, collaborative moment for us and we’re kind of in it together and we bump into each other and go, ‘Dude can you believe this is happening? We’re on billboards! It’s so fuckin’ weird’ Its not as interesting a story, but for us it’s just cool. I’ve described it to like, the cast of ‘SNL,’ it feels like this Muppet generation – these kids who grew up on happy go lucky stuff and don’t’ have any demons and are just kind of lovers of comedy and fans and stuff. It’s all very exciting and positive for us.

Who really inspired you early on? Who were the first people you were entertaining and what material were you using?

I never knew for sure what the rest of the world would think of me in terms of being funny. I knew that my family was really crazy. Like, silly, goofy family. We would always be making each other laugh. And so, I would gauge my funniness in how much I would make my sister’s laugh. I have two older sisters and I developed a style of annoying them until they laughed.

Were you trying to be a certain comic actor or where you just trying to do your own thing?

Just kind of doing my own thing, which, by the way, I feel like I am still doing. I am not really like an impression or ‘charactery’ guy. Like every character or impression I do on the show is like some shade of me. But, y’know, I’m a goofball so it works out.

How young did you start?

Um, I mean I was trying to make jokes in class in school as early as first grade. I wanted to be on ‘SNL’ since I was 8. So, I locked in the comedy very early on. And my parents always tell me that even as a baby I was constantly laughing and giggling. I’m just a laughy kind of guy I guess.

What do you do to relax?

These boots are made for stomping. I’m kind of attracted to that. She’s working me. She’s working me over this time. I try to sleep whenever I can. I love sleeping and I’m not getting enough of it. I go out and have a drink or two. Go to a movie. I am really into music, do a lot of CD shopping and itunes shopping which is not as exciting, but sometimes you just gotta get that shit into your ipod. That’s really it. Generally when I have free time right now, I try to catch up with people, because everything has been happening so fast. I don’t want to loose touch with anyone. But, um, drinking. (Laughs.) In moderation.

Do you have any more ideas for your digital shorts? ‘Laser Cats III’?

Dude, I hope so, ‘Laser Cats’ is one of my favorites. We haven’t conceived anything yet. Generally we come up with digital short ideas on Thursday or Friday to be completely honest. I mean, toward the end of the season? The making out with the dog one and the Shia LaBeouf one where everyone kept getting shot? Those were Friday afternoon into evening and then everyone had to scramble and like find a location for us and we shot them until 2 in the morning on Friday night. And Akiva and Jorma would stay up all night editing for the show on Saturday. A few of those were conceived, shot, edited and aired in under 24 hours. It’s ridiculous. But, I like them. I’m proud of them. So, it’s like, as long as it keeps happening where we feel as though they don’t stuck it’s hard to get out of the habit.

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