Junket Report: Funny People

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Dr. Cole Abauis makes a compelling argument about Funny People over in his review, and when I saw the film a couple of weeks ago, I felt exactly the same way. I mean, this movie is an Apatow film, and it stars Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Jason Schwartzman, Leslie Mann, Eric Bana, a slew of other funny people (including a few moments of Ray Romano that are funny than all of Everybody Loves Raymond) … but it just doesn’t stay with you like Anchorman or 40 Year Old Virgin.

Is it the sign of a more mature film when you’re not quoting lines from the movie, mere minutes after having seen it? I hope not. The only person that really stuck with me from that movie was Aziz Ansari as Randy, who is barely in the movie. In fact, if you want a ton of Randy comedy, check out the elaborate website they made for his character. It’s got a lot more material on it than Ansari has in the film.

But, I digress. I’m not here to tell you review the film all over, I’m here to tell you about the junket. Funny People does deliver on its title, as their are actually funny people in the movie. The junket delivered as well, and we got to sit down and talk with the main players in the movie. So read on after the break for our interviews with the funny people of Funny People. Even Eric Bana. Did you know he used to be a stand-up comedian in Australia? Well, now you do. Read on.

Funny People is in theaters today.

Adam Sandler (George Simmons)

  • On his character: “This guy that I play is leading a different life than I live, but there are some things that come close to home. God forbid, if I get sick, I’ll have a different experience than this guy did. In my real life, I have a lot of people to talk to.”
  • On stand-up: “Doing stand-up when you’re 42 years old … there’s a lot more pressure. When I was in my 20s, my goal was to be a movie star … I was pretty crazy, I don’t know why I was like that. When you’re 20 and you go onstage and nobody laughs, you’re like ‘Well, those people just didn’t get it.’ But when you’re in your 40s and nobody laughs, you go, “Oh my god. Why am I here?’ You’re too dumb when you’re in your 20s to realize good and bad.”
  • On Judd Apatow and comedies: “I’ll tell ya, when I go out to dinner with Apatow, I laugh like I did back in the day. When I watch movies now, I don’t laugh as much as I did when I was 15 and it wasn’t my profession. I tend to go to comedies first, and then break them down and figure out why they’re funny.”
  • Judd breaks in: “And then we go see Orphan.”
  • On seeing other comedians: “The best thing around my life right now is that I’ve been around, I mean I’m not like Bob Hope or anything, but I’ve been around long enough to be like if I see someone else kill I don’t get jealous, I go ‘That guy’s good.” But 20 years ago if I saw someone else kill I’d go, ‘Oh god. I’ve got to figure some shit out.’”
  • On what’s next: “It was a lot of work, this movie. When I finished it, I hugged Apatow, and I was very relieved to have a break. I don’t know how these other actors go movie to movie and lose their minds in their roles and have a real life. I was happy to jump back into my real life with my wife and kids. But if something else comes down the road that Apatow feels is right or I feel is right, I’m sure I’ll jump back in there. I’m doing a movie right now with a bunch of my comedian friends called Grown Ups, but I like having those breaks.”
  • Judd: “And then I’m going to ask Adam to do My Left Foot 2.”

Judd Apatow (Director/Writer/Producer)

  • On living with Adam Sandler back in the day: “It’s weird back in the day because you’re friends with people, but then you get mad when they move ahead of you. I remember when I lived with Adam, he got this Visa commercial (Adam breaks in and yells “Mastercard!”), oh Mastercard commercial. It was big and expensive and Adam was funny, and I remember thinking ‘Why wasn’t I the Mastercard guy?”
  • Adam interrupts and reminds Judd that he stole a Jim Henson audition from him: “That’s right … Jim Henson was doing this reality show where you would drive around the country with your own video cameras and … “
  • Adam: “Yeah, but at this time you were already saying you didn’t want to be on camera anymore! You were already saying you wanted to be a writer, where I was like, ‘What? What’s a writer?’”
  • Judd: “But, I didn’t end up getting it ultimately, because Jim Henson says ‘I lacked warmth.’ And when the guy who taught you how read tells you lack warmth … I was devastated! I still haven’t recovered.”
  • On the fake movies within the movie (Merman, Re-Do, etc): “What’s funny is that most of the movies we did at some point were made by Tom Hanks. These are all kind of second-generation copies of his movies.”
  • Adam: “By the way, I swear to god, I was showing my mom some of the fake movie stuff on my iPhone, and I showed her the Re-Do scene where my head is on a baby, and I swear she said this. She goes, ‘You were a very cute baby.’” (the room breaks up in laughter)
  • Judd: “And after we shot all of these fake movies, there was this moment where we go, ‘We could actually make these movies!’”
  • On optimism in his movies: “There’s always a moment in everyone’s life where they have to decide if they’re going to evolve, and make some sort of change. We’re all in the middle of a midlife crisis. I like to make movies that have a hopeful message, that show some potential for redemption. The point of this movie that it’s really, really hard for this guy, harder than for most people, and you root for him to pull it off.”

Seth Rogen (Ira Wright)

  • On improv: “There’s always a lot of freedom. We’ve all gotten just a lot better at it, I think we all know a bit more now about what will make it into the movie and isn’t just masturbatory exercises. There was a lot less aimless improvising on this set than we would normally do.”
  • On his Undeclared episode with Adam Sandler, where he plays a similar role: “It was a little weird. I always think that’s neat that what they canceled as a TV show, they now make as a giant movie. That was the first time I’d met him, and it was really awesome that he’d do that! At the time I was in my late teens, and it was the thrill of a lifetime to have Adam Sandler appear in something you’d written. I’d actually think about that a lot while acting in the scenes, I’d think about how I felt the first time I met Adam. One time when I was like 17 or 18 I went out to dinner with Judd and Jim Carrey and Garry Shandling and then we all went to go see Gladiator together. I don’t think I said one thing the entire night, I just had this goofy smile on my face. I tried to put myself back into that place while making this movie.”
  • On being competitive: “I can’t even watch sports because I could really not give a shit who wins. That’s how non-competitive I am. I watch people I do that and I’m like ‘Wow, imagine caring. I can’t even imagine what that would be like. It’s great when your friends are doing well.”
  • On stand-up: “I remember one night Jonah and I both performed at the Improv, and we both did pretty good, and I was like ‘Wow, we’re kind of getting the hang of this!’ Then Louis C.K. goes up and just kills. I mean, he destroyed the audience. Just killed. So we were really just able to see the difference between what we do, and what they do. The guy has been doing stand-up for like 20 years, and he’s incredible.”
  • On The Green Hornet: “I’ve decided we’re never going the movie, we’re just going to promote it for the next ten years.” (laughs)

Jonah Hill (Leo)

  • On improv: “We had like a year or so to work with Judd and each other to kind of refine our characters before we started shooting. Before we would work for like a couple of weeks, and then start shooting.”
  • On writing comedy: “Certain people we’ve met along the way have a joylessness to their comedy writing. For us we laugh and have a good time while we’re doing it, but for some people it’s like solving a math problem. I tried to make Leo seem like that in this movie a few times. Some of the most joyless people I’ve met have been comedians. Like Seth.” (laughter)
  • On being competitve: “I can’t tell you how much joy it legitimately brings me when one of my friends does well, even if it’s something I would be interested in doing as well. Seth and Schwartzman and I have known each other for a really long time, and they were both successful way before I had any success, and I was super happy for them.”
  • On learning the business: “When Seth and Evan were making Superbad, they were super-inclusive to every part of the process and allowed me in. They’d be like, ‘Hey, we’re writing. Do you want to come write with us?’ They definitely helped shape what I want to do with my career. And even with Pineapple Express, which I had no involvement in, they’d be like ‘Come and write with us, give us some notes.’”
  • On doing stand-up in the film: “It made me appreciate what we get to do every day. It just made me realize how much it’s like apples and oranges, being funny doesn’t mean you’re going to be a great comedian, and being a great comedian doesn’t mean you’re going to turn in a great performance in a movie. I respect what they do too much to all of the sudden try to capitalize on it and jump into that world.”

Leslie Mann (Laura)

  • On doing love scenes with her husband’s old roommate, Adam Sandler: “It was a little bit strange … and Judd tells me he was aroused watching these. Maybe that’s his way of dealing with how uncomfortable he was while filming. What’s funny is that I actually met Adam before I met Judd. I was at some club and he wrote me a note on a napkin in ketchup that said “Hey, nice back” or something like that. His friend brought the note over, and said ‘Why don’t you come over?’ I didn’t go over, and a couple of months later I’d met Judd and we were at a party, and Adam was there. It was awkward between Adam and I that night.” (laughs)

Eric Bana (Clarke)

  • On working with the Apatow club: “At first it sounding very intimidating and nerve-wracking, but in true professional fashion they made me feel so welcome. I mean, right from the get-go when we started performing, I felt like it was okay to contribute. They made me feel relaxed and I was able to get in there and get my hands dirty.”
  • On his former stand-up life: I was pretty burned out on comedy by the time I’d walked away from it, even though no one here had really seen it. It was more about opportunity. When I came over here I was offered dramatic roles. I don’t watch comedies and think, ‘Wow, I should get back in there. I could do that.” But working on this, I’ve been thinking about it more. It’s like opening up a closet and trying on some clothes and going ‘Wow, that feels good.’”
  • On Star Trek: “I was a very lucky man last year, I got to do Star Trek and this movie. That was a really fun year to do both of those movies. The whole Star Trek thing has been nothing but a blast and a great, fun ride. But unfortunately no, Nero won’t be back.”

Aziz Ansari (Randy)

  • On doing stand-up for the film: “They shot hours of stand-up, there’s going to be so much extra on the DVD. They’d even follow us when we were practicing while we were working on our characters. There’s a ton of footage, although I don’t know what will end up on the DVD. They shot like four shows and this big show at the Orpheum. Some of that will probably be on it.”
  • On Randy: “Judd just told me to make him cocky and confident, and then later we came up with ‘What if he had a DJ’ and ‘What if he was like really dirty and all of his jokes were about sex?’ Yeah, I don’t think it’s as much a dig at any particular comedian but … I was like, what if Soulja Boy did comedy. That’s why he has a dance, he has a DJ, and all that. People really respond to that high level of energy in comedy, when you run out and you’re like ‘Who’s ready to laugh their dick off?!’ Then I go back and watch my own comedy and I’m all (low voice) ‘So, I was like walking down the street the other day.’ Who cares about that?”
  • On fame: “Human Giant kind of became my calling card, and that helped me to get parts in like Scrubs and Parks and Recreation and all that. I don’t think I’m famous at all.”

Aubrey Plaza (Daisy)

  • On auditioning for the movie: “I just decided to try it, and I had my friend shoot me doing some stand-up and we sent it in.”
  • On joining the Apatow group: “I was really intimidated before I met everyone at the first table read, but after that I felt really comfortable. They welcome me into their family and made me feel totally at ease.”
  • On Scott Pilgrim: “I just got back from Canada, up there with Edgar Wright and Michael Cera. I play Julie Powers, she’s kind of like an antagonist to Michael Cera’s Scott Pilgrim. She’s like a bitchy record store employee. I don’t get to fight, although there is a lot of fighting in the movie.”