Jay Chandrasekhar wasn’t sure if people who wanted to watch “Super Troopers” would be able to get past the first scene.
As one of his fellow actors and Broken Lizard comedy group co-founders tried to tell him shortly before the movie’s release, there was no need for him to worry, and the scene seems to be a pretty perfect introduction for a film that will probably still make people laugh in 2505.
Maybe I need to watch it again to be sure though. The 13th or 14th viewing will surely provide clarity on this matter.
Chandrasekhar not only nailed the role of Arcot “Thorny” Ramathorn in “Super Troopers,” he also directed the movie and other Broken Lizard projects “Beerfest” and “Club Dread.” He has director credits on a bunch of other films and a slew of great TV shows, including episodes of “Arrested Development,” “Community,” “New Girl” and “The Goldbergs.”
During a Tuesday evening interview minutes after signing copies of his recently released book, “Mustache Shenanigans: Making Super Troopers and Other Adventures in Comedy,” Chandrasekhar told me he’s “in the people pleasing business” whether he is acting, directing, writing or performing stand-up comedy, which he’ll be doing during a headlining run at Goodnights in Raleigh this week.
We dived deep into “Super Troopers,” writing the book, stand-up and more.
For folks who can’t get to Goodnights to see Chandrasekhar, stop lying. You know you can and want to go, so go, but also drop by Quail Ridge Books at noon on Saturday for a meet and greet and book signing with Chandrasekhar.
Enjoy the interview, follow Chandrasekhar on Twitter and don’t forget The Best Tweet I Can Find in Five Minutes at the end.
Tony Castleberry: So “Super Troopers 2” is going to be a heavy drama about the officers maturing and settling their differences with the local police, right?
Jay Chandrasekhar: [laughs] Well, you know the movie takes place on the Canadian border and we kind of love those latest generations of the Marvel sequels, so we thought we’d name it “Super Troopers 2: Border Wars.”
We came up with a story that I really like a lot and we were able to hang a whole lot of jokes on it. To be honest with you, we know how to make movies now, you know what I mean? We are much better at it than we were back then.
TC: I’ve probably watched “Super Troopers” a dozen times and I enjoy it just as much now as I did the first time I saw it in the early 2000s. Did you guys think you were making something that was gonna have that kind of staying power while you were writing and filming it?
JC: I thought that the powdered sugar scene was funny. I knew that. I was convinced that the opening of the film was a failure. I was convinced. I got into an argument with Kevin Heffernan (who plays Farva) the day before we left for Sundance, and I said, “We blew it. We tried to make a great opening and we fucking blew it.” He’s like, “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” and I’m like, “That’s because you don’t know anything.” [interviewer laughs] We got into an argument about it. The next night we screened at Sundance, and it was explosive!
But no, we didn’t know. All we wanted to do was make a movie that would allow us to make another movie. We didn’t think this movie would ever really do anything. Why would any movie with total strangers in it put anybody in the movie theater? We were thrilled every step of the way.
TC: You mentioned the powdered sugar scene. Did Kevin insist on being naked or could that scene have been OK without us seeing his body the way that we saw it?
JC: I insisted on Kevin being naked because we were paying homage the “First Blood” scene when Stallone has been arrested by the local cops and is being shot with the fire hose. He was nude from behind. (Heffernan) told me, “I’ll be nude from behind. Just don’t show my dick.” I was like, “Nobody wants to see your dick, buddy.” [interviewer laughs] But what happened was, when we shot the scene, we added the sugar element. I remember watching it on the monitor like, “That is so funny. I can’t believe I’m putting that in.” The cameraman must have felt the same way because he had the camera on his shoulder and (laughed so much) that he tilted the camera down for two seconds and caught just literally two seconds of (Heffernan’s) tuna can. There you have it. The rest is history. Kevin tried to kill it, but I fought him and fought him and fought him and finally I won the argument.
TC: Did you enjoy the book-writing process or was it stressful?
JC: I loved it, because there’s no budget and there’s no structure necessarily. There is a structure that I created, but there’s not a three-act structure that you have to follow like the movie business. You don’t have to worry about pages. A chapter could be seven pages or it could be 40 pages. It doesn’t matter, you know? You have to be reasonable to the audience, but ultimately it was so free. It didn’t matter that I was jumping around from prep school in Chicago to Colgate to New York to LA. You can’t make a movie with that many sets because the price goes up. … [Writing the book] was a very freeing way to tell a story.
Because of that, I started writing a novel and I’m having a ball doing that too.
TC: What does stand-up comedy give you that directing or acting doesn’t?
JC: Stand-up is similar to book-writing in that you can say whatever you want and there’s nobody stopping you from performing it. In the movie business, you write a joke and you shoot the joke two years later, 27 drafts later. The joke might not even survive. The original riff probably dies in Draft 10.
Not only does (stand-up) get presented exactly as I remembered it and wanted it to be and riffed it and thought about it, but I add jokes every night. I’m like, “This little bit could use a little joke,” (so) you just write a joke for it and stick it in. It’s very immediate.
TC: Have you played Goodnights before and if so, does anything about the club or Raleigh stand out to you?
JC: We played Goodnights on Halloween weekend with Broken Lizard and it was rowdy and packed. All the waitresses and waiters were in ridiculous costumes. It was a blast. I mean, we had a great time there. We really did.
Here it is, The Best Tweet I Can Find in Five Minutes:
Richard Spencer went to Auburn and said they should ban football. Even racists were like pic.twitter.com/sg3M0PZL9F
— raven (@_raven_io) April 19, 2017