Blowjob Girl. Bro Rape. Maccacca. These are all things you can’t say and expect to be elected to national office, and two of them are sketches from the phenomenal sketch comedy team Derrick Comedy. You may know them from your computer.
If you do, then you’ll know how hard it was to keep a straight face while interviewing them about their film Mystery Team, and if you don’t know them, feel free to check out some of their work before returning here to read the melee that ensued between stars Donald Glover, DC Pierson, and Dominic Dierkes.
We dig deep into our “Lost” theories, uncover an impossible new sex act, and discuss the finer points of how rebuilding the nation after the Civil War affected the diaspora. Plus, they give the most important reason ever to buy their DVD.
Glover and Pierson get things started, and Dominic Dierkes joins in a little bit later. If you’re not into literacy, you can also listen to this magical 26-minute interlude via the audio player below.[audio:http://media.filmschoolrejects.com/audio/mysteryteam-int.mp3]
How are you guys doing today?
DC Pierson: Great. How are you?
Not bad. The usual. I lead a pretty boring life of covering movie news and talking to famous people.
DC: Well, if you think it’s boring, you…should quit.
You know what? There’s no time like the present.
DC: [Laughs] What if I changed your life today?
I feel like I would make some sort of medallion with your name on it. A coin to keep as a reminder for who I have to thank for me becoming a garbage man.
DC: Or maybe a…
Donald Glover: Jesus Christ, you two. Get. A. Room.
Donald: Just fuck already.
DC: You’re blowing it. You’re blowing this for me.
And we have our interview headline: Just Fuck Already.
Okay. Serious first question. You are transitioning from sketch to feature film. What was gained and what was lost in changing mediums?
DC: Oh. I got really excited ’cause I thought we were going to talk about “Lost” for a second.
DC: I heard ‘lost,’ and I thought – you know, “Lost” figured into it a lot for us.
How would you say Evangeline Lilly has changed your life in a positive way?
Donald: I have something to do on Sunday morning.
Um. Is that when “Lost” is on or is that just when Evangeline Lilly comes over.
Donald: No. That’s when I think…about…her.
Yes. Okay. So…the art of your craft…
Donald: It’s all about imagination. That’s what I’m saying.
DC: The power of imagination.
Let’s pretend that’s what you meant.
DC: It’s…yes…and…what was the original question?
Donald: [Laughs] “Why do we like “Lost” so much?” I think was the question.
Right. How would you say that Mystery Team is a continuation of the “Lost” narrative?
Donald: [Laughs] We could really get into that. Don’t tempt us.
I’m tempting. Get into it.
Donald: Okay. Well, if you look back, I’m just playing Walt.
DC: Yeah. Donald is old. People are like, “Where’s Walt? Is Walt going to figure into things again?” and it’s just Donald. That’s what people need to realize. He’s been Walt all along from the beginning.
They’ve been shooting him since he was, like, you know 5 years old. Before they were doing the show. Like it was AI or something. It’s Stanley Kubrick’s AI. But, yeah…Mystery Team…
DC: It’s…uh…a continuation…where do wanna start with this?
Donald, did you feel it exploitative for them to use you when you were five years old?
DC: Okay, listen.
Seriously. Sketch comedy to feature film narrative. What do you gain from changing mediums? What do you lose from changing mediums?
Donald: We went ahead and did the movie like we did the shorts. It’s different because you’re having to be managers with a crew, and you have to change that. I don’t think anything was really lost. In a way, I’d like to say that we didn’t micromanage like we do with the shorts, but we really did. The good thing about having the five of us is that there’s a lot of us, and much to our extreme stress, we got to micromanage the whole movie which is what we do with the shorts.
I’m sure we wouldn’t do that again because we wouldn’t be able to. It takes so much time. Nothing was lost in the sense that we ran it like we ran the shorts.
As far as things gained – a huge amount of knowledge of how movies are made, how crews work, and dealing with other people. We never had to deal with other people or management before. It was always just the five of us. I just learned a ton about how movies are made and how time consuming and how much work goes into them. I learned a lot. It was great.
Was there any worry or concern in going from doing more off-the-cuff shorts where it’s your own thing and seeing massive organic, positive response to getting strict on a shooting schedule and working with all those other people? Being more professional for lack of a better phrase?
DC: It’s interesting, like Donald said. When we work, it’s not really an off-the-cuff thing. Just because it’s the five of us doing it, we can be a little more freewheeling, but for the most part we take it pretty seriously. When we do the sketches, especially the ones pre-Mystery Team – we’re not really improvising a whole bunch. It’s scripted, and there’s a lot of playing around with it, but it all gets crystallized into a script or into the idea.
Even on the set of one of our shorts, if there’s improv that goes into it – we’re tightening it up and realizing, “Here’s what works. Here’s what’s not working. Let’s get that from another angle.” We are always going toward that one central idea. With Mystery Team, it was similar. We were driving toward the central theme of these three kid detectives, and everything else – the decision-making and micromanaging that Donald mentioned – it was all an offshoot of that and these five people’s comedic take on these kids’ story.
Do you see any major difference between what you’re doing and what SNL is doing with a movie like MacGruber?
DC: I think from what I understand – I haven’t seen the movie – it’s a pretty similar thing where they’re taking a character who’s out of place in the modern world, like our characters are these 50s-style, Encyclopedia Brown-style kid detectives who have to come to grips with the modern world the way it is and their two-dimensionalness standing out against the world being real and messed up.
From what I understand, MacGruber is this 80s action hero, and in the real world, does that really function? How can a two-dimensional character function in a three-dimensional world? So I think they’re coming from that central idea just how we were coming from our central idea.
What can The Mystery Team do with the most recent Catholic Church sex scandal?
Donald: Do you mean the group or the DVD?
[Laughs] Either or.
DC: ‘Cause all the proceeds from the Mystery Team DVD actually go to the Catholic Church to help them put out the litigious fires. We feel like the Catholic Church doesn’t have enough money to cover this all up clearly. We wanna help out. We think we could get a lot of hush money for them, so people should buy the DVD for that reason.
Donald: So I think that pretty much answers all of it.
It does. What do you feel like the real-life Mystery Team would do to solve the crisis?
Donald: Well, it’s not really a mystery. That’s the problem.
Donald: I think that’s the sad part. It’s not a mystery. It’s all out there already.
Donald: There’s nothing to solve. It’s just this horrible thing that’s happened. It’s like, “What would the Mystery Team do with the Holocaust?” Well, it’s not a mystery. [Laughs]
Donald, what razzes your berries?
Donald: In real life?
Donald: I guess people who are legit dumb. People, not like Charlie-in-our-movie dumb, but not wanting to know anything else. Being, “I’ve learned everything I need to know, so I’m done with learning.” That really. That razzes my berries.
That, and some girls I’ve met. Some girls do razz my berries.
Donald: But only if I pay them.
Like Evangeline Lilly.
Donald: Oh, yeah. In my head, yeah.
DC: I was gonna say that sounds like something an NBA player would be discovered for doing. This horrible, explicit sexual act with a hooker called “Razzing My Berries.”
Like when you bite a hooker’s back.
Donald: I don’t know what it is, but it definitely has to do with your balls and blood.
DC: But not your blood. And not her blood either.
Why is it self-evident that it involves blood?
DC: I think it might be Chuck Berry’s blood.
Donald: [Laughs] Yeah! Chuck Berry’s blood. That’s why it’s really hard to do. Because you’ve got to get Chuck Berry to sign off on it.
DC: Or Marion Berry. Or like the one Berry – his cousin from Back to the Future.
Donald: [Laughs] Marvin!
DC: Where he’s on the phone saying, “Hey man! I got the new sound you’re looking for! It’s me, Marvin!” I think it’s Marvin right?
Donald: Your cousin. Marvin. Berry. Marvin Berry is the guy. Which, I think we discovered before was just a way to say, “See? Black people stole it from white people.”
DC: Exactly. It’s this weird time loop where white people invented rock ‘n’ roll along and black people stole it. We’re not co-opting anything. Just be glad we left you ill-fitting suits, Chuck Berry.
So “Fuck Robert Zemeckis” is the real lesson here.
DC: Yeah. We’ll stick it to him.
So we’ve decided it’s a sex act involving a fictional character’s blood and your testicles.
DC: Exactly. There’s your headline. There’s your lead.
Mystery Team Discovers New Sex Act?
DC: Mhmm. I like it. I like it.
Donald: I like it.
DC, same question. Do you have the same dedication to education as Donald or what razzes your berries?
DC: I don’t know. Time and where does it go? It gets to me that you go on twitter…
Your problem is Time?
DC: No, no, no. People’s experience of time and my own experience with time. You go on twitter and people are like, “Just having a Saturday with my girls. Just drinking margaritas on a patio. Oh, weird Russell Brand is here,” and you’re like, “How do people get to go just hang out at places and be relaxed?” I don’t understand time or how people find it or feel productive ever.
I think when you’re following Jonah Hill’s twitter, that’s the sort of thing you’re going to see.
DC: [Laughs] Yeah, exactly! “I got him to the Greek, you guys!” Spoiler Alert.
Donald: Oh, God. If he ever tweets that, I’m going to punch something.
DC: You’re going to punch your iPhone.
Or Marion Berry.
DC: I just like to imagine someone sucker punching their own iPhone.
Donald: I’ll do it today, damnit.
DC: You can do it on this call.
How would you make your iPhone aware that you were going to punch it? I think every punch to an iPhone has to be a sucker punch.
DC: Ah, yeah. That’s true. That’s true. There’s an app where you can distract it.
Like you show it your thumb?
DC: Exactly. “Look over there!”
Not so smart now, phone.
[As if in response, a futuristic beeping noise rings out]
DC: Who’s on? Who’s this?
Dominic Dierkes: Hey, it’s Dominic. Sorry I’m late guys.
Hey, Dominic. We were just discussing post-industrialism in the break down of modern film, and we were hoping you could weigh in on that a little bit.
Dominic: Oh, I gotta go!
Dominic: Post-industrialism in modern film, huh?
DC: I was making some interesting points about the post-Colonialist experience in the diaspora.
And Donald mentioned Buster Keaton’s influence.
Dominic: I was gonna say, my thesis was on how the Civil War Reconstruction affected the diaspora.
DC: Well, we have much to discuss.
Dominic: My conclusion was that it did not at all.
That’s actually good. My next question on the list was “How did the American Civil War affect the diaspora if at all?
Dominic: Not at all.
Dominic: Sorry again about being late.
No worries. We discovered a sex act. We talked about Chuck Berry’s cousin for a while.
Dominic: So typical fare.
Did we do anything productive yet? I think we did.
Do you guys have a standard go-to when something you’re doing isn’t working or when you have writer’s block?
DC: We’re also improvisers as well, and there may be a belief – and it might be true for some people – that there’s a fall back schtick. I’m not saying that there aren’t those things, but I think it’s where you might realize subconsciously that you have these themes or types of characters that you end up being obsessed with or keep returning to.
I think for Derrick [Comedy], we fixate for whatever reason on people with poor father figures or weird relationships with their parents or no relationship with their parents. Also, just people who are insanely stubborn against all evidence to the contrary.
Dominic: Yeah. People who endure a lot of pain when all they would have to do is let go of their pride. The self-induced pain that people have to go through not to show weakness. Or not admit that they’re wrong.
We have a video called “B-Boy Stance,” that I think is the epitome of that type of character that we like to have who’s like, “No, no, I did the right thing!” even when it’s so clear that they did not. There’s definitely themes that we enjoy hitting from time to time.
You got together in college and started a sketch group, and I’m wondering if that’s the first idea that came to mind or whether you wanted to form an Ocean’s Eleven style bank robbing club or a boy band.
Dominic: I knew I’d always be in a group of something, and I’m glad it’s comedy because there’s so many other groups that wouldn’t speak to my sensibilities at all. I considered joining a cult briefly. That would have been a good group.
What were the draws?
Dominic: The draws? They just told me what I wanted to hear. You’re beautiful. You’re great. I was like, “Oh, that’s nice.”
DC: [mocking] You’re beauuutiful.
Donald: You’re beautiful? So all they had to do was say that you’re beautiful?
DC: So they’re a shitty boyfriend who knows just what to say to his dumb girlfriend?
Dominic: No, no! It wasn’t anything like that.
DC: Oh, baby. You’re so hot.
Dominic: But you know the cult, Donald. You know the cult. It’s the doctrine of “I’m sorry I forgot to call.”
DC: It’s the cult of… Steve.
Donald: Yeah! Yeah!
Guys, the cult doesn’t treat him the same way when they’re alone. You just don’t get it.
Dominic: Yeah, yeah.
DC: You guys don’t see it. He’s so sweet when we’re behind closed doors.
Same response, DC?
DC: Yeah, I sort of came to comedy in a weird, round about way. When I was in high school, I really wanted to be an auteur filmmaker. I was really obsessed with Quentin Tarantino and Kevin Smith. When I went to college, I went for writing and I went to NYU, and I had this friend who was a grad student, and he was like, “Hey man, I’m starting a sketch comedy group.”
So I went out and auditioned for it. It just so happens that that’s where I ended up meeting Donald and Dominic, and then Dan [Eckman] our director and Meggie [McFadden] our producer. The five of us started working together, and that’s how I stumbled upon it. We started doing stuff at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, and I started taking improv classes, and I realized that, oh shit, being a comedian was awesome. I’d always loved comedy and stuff like that, so I left behind the film dream to pursue comedy more directly, and it ended up that through doing comedy and being in this group, we ended up making a movie and going to Sundance.
I kind of ended up coming back in a round about way to that indie film thing that I always secretly wanted.
Donald, I read an interview where you talk about growing up in Atlanta and mention the best thing about it was being bored. That aided you in becoming a comedian?
Donald: I think being bored, definitely. Being bored really helps with everything – not just being a comedian. Having time to think is always good, because I long for those days again. I really do. I wonder if I’ll ever be bored again where I’ll have nothing to do because that’s when all of my favorite things came about when I was a kid.
My parents were foster parents. Having foster kids in the house really aided my comedic sensibilities. Having weird parents. My mom has a very dark sense of humor. My family is very strange. I think all of those things help with comedy – just having a different viewpoint. Being the only black kid in a lot of my schools for a while also aided it. You see things differently, I think. All of those things help.
I talked to Zach Galifianakis last summer and he talked about how his mother was really supportive, so it’s interesting to hear you say that. Dominic, DC, did you also have supportive families?
Dominic: My parents could not have been more supportive. From basically the time that I had enough formed in my mind that I told my parents I wanted to be a comedian, they were so gung ho about helping me figure out how to do that.
When I was looking at colleges, they were all about looking at colleges that they knew would have comedy clubs or comedy theaters. Basically places where I could get better. I started doing open mic nights when I was fifteen years old at a stand up club in Memphis. Because I was under-aged, one of my parents had to be at every one of my shows.
Dominic: I was going up on this open mic once a week and I was MCing this show. They were probably watching 2 or 3, you know, probably shitty comedy shows a week…
DC: Hey, man! Hey! Whoa…
Dominic: DC was headlining all those shows.
DC: Hey! I had stuff to say about airline food and the Clinton administration. Leave it alone.
Dominic: Yeah, and the way you connected the two was amazing.
Donald: [Matter of factly] That guy got a blow job.
Dominic: [Laughs] Clinton of the airline food?
Donald: Yeah, you’ll see the connection later.
Dominic: But, yeah, they were super supportive. Even to this day, I’ve never heard even an inkling of… you know, with a lot of comedians you hear about this painful process of them having to admit that they want to be a comedian or them having a dicey relationship with their parents because their parents don’t respect what they do.
You have to come out of the closet as a comedian.
Dominic: Yeah, people really do have those things – “My dad is a lawyer and he thinks what I do is bullshit.” I don’t really have that. So I was very fortunate. It was really key in not also having to concern myself with also possibly alienating my family.
I write about movies for a living, so I can relate a little bit. I figured I would wrap up by…
DC: I have to say really quickly so I don’t get in trouble – yes, my parents were tremendously supportive as well.
[Laughs] So you don’t get spanked later.
Dominic: Ooo, suck up.
DC: So it wasn’t conspicuous silence. No, my parents were awesome. ‘Nuff said. I’m getting the best Christmas gift this year.
DC: It’s wrapped up.
Last question. A little bit more serious. Do you guys ever just close your eyes and think back to how you got to where you’re at?
DC: Oh, yeah.
Dominic: Yeah. It’s such a weird journey. The fact that the five of us found each other as collaborators is pretty remarkable. We all come from different corners of the country, and we all have our different reasons for going to NYU and different things we wanted to do, so the fact that we found each other is – it’s a pretty remarkable set of circumstances we were able to find each other in.
Mystery Team is available on DVD May 25th.