Jay Chandrasekhar has been on the comedy scene for a while now, best known for his work with Broken Lizard, a comedy group he shares with his friends. Together they have made a handful of movies, including the cult fan favorite “Super Troopers,” which they all write and star in, with Chandrasekhar in the director’s chair. Aside from Broken Lizard projects, he also directed “The Dukes of Hazzard” and many episodes for different acclaimed televisions shows like “Happy Endings,” “Community,” “Chuck,” “Up All Night,” and the infamous “Arrested Development.”
His newest film, “The Babymakers,” stars Paul Schneider (“All the Real Girls,” “Lars and the Real Girl,” and “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”) and Olivia Munn, as well as Broken Lizard’s Kevin Heffernan. The story follows Tommy and his wife Audrey as they try to unsuccessfully conceive a child. Once Tommy discovers he’s the issue, he and a group of buddies decide to steal a deposit he made at a sperm bank years before. Yes, it’s a sperm bank heist.
I got the chance to talk with Chandrasekhar to dicsuss the movie, the long-awaited Super Troopers sequel, the future of Broken Lizard, Paul Schneider’s smooth talking ways, sperm bank research, the future of comedy, and much more.
How did casting happen, because I know that you had worked with Olivia Munn before.
JC: We kind of started to really work together creatively and then we made a tiny – produced a small film called “Free Loaders” and she played a part in it and she killed it. Like, grabs your attention totally. So, when this came up she called me and said, “I should be playing this part.” And I was like, “You are bold…and I agree with you so let’s start to manipulate people in the background until they come to our ways.” And it worked.
How did Paul Schneider come on?
JC: Well, you know we worked with Brian Cox in “Super Troopers” and we found that when you work with a great actor it really sort of raises all the boats. It’s like, Jürgen Prochnow we worked with in “Beerfest” and these are Oscar nominated or winning actors and this guy is one of those guys of his age.
Yeah, he definitely is.
JC: And he knows his way around a joke. I mean, I feel like you watch him and he just – guys are not annoyed with him for looking like a model and women seem to like his sensitivity. And I find him very funny.
I also really liked how you approached gay humor in the movie. That whole scene in the living room with the couple, I thought was really well done because it wasn’t derisive towards gay couples at all, but still very funny.
JC: I was quite nervous about that part – I now have, I don’t know, I mean, I know about eight or ten gay couples that I would honestly say I’m friends with and hang out with, because you know, a lot of them have coupled up and have kids. And so, the old me – I knew like a gay guy or two who I was friends with but I didn’t have this knowledge of what a gay relationship was really like and now that I see all these guys and they’re just sort of like guys and they’re together and whatever. So I was – here’s my feeling, If we’re all going to live in a society together you can’t have a group that you can’t make fun of, right? And this is a group that’s been made fun of quite a bit in the history of television, or film and television. And so if you’re sophisticated about the idea of ‘we’re not making fun of people because they are gay’ you still need to be able to – in order to fully include them – you need to have them be part, be in the movie. Otherwise you just might not have them in the movie.
So, the sperm bank. I’m sure everybody asks you, did you go to a sperm bank or is this just your comedic version where there’s a fresh sample room?
JC: We shot the movie the first time and we said, “You know, we’re making a movie about a sperm bank heist. People are gonna role their eyes and go oooohhh those guys! Fuckin’ beer and stoners and super troopers and now they’re gonna do sperm.” And so we said, “We’re gonna do the classy version of this movie, we’re not doing the sperm falling over scene. We’re just not doing it. We’re gonna be classy.” And we watch the movie and we’re like, “[sigh] we need – we need the scene right there with the fuckin’ sperm.” And we had written it, I’d had those guys write it. “Get it out, let’s do it.” So we went and reshot it and I remember mumbling to [Kevin] Heffernan, “There goes the New York Times review.” But you know what? The point of it is…you watch it with a crowd and they have a big reaction, and it’s mostly laughter, the rest of it I’m sure people are groaning or saying, “Why do they have to go there?”
So, tell me about your character that you play. Was that mainly written before you came in or did you mainly write it?
JC: No, it was originally a Russian, or Eastern European guy. We were thinking maybe of Harvey Keitel or somebody who could do that kind of accent but you know the problem was that Sacha Baron Cohen had so nailed that Eastern European thing with “Borat” that it felt like you could never be that funny. To me that movie was so sublime, “Borat,” and it will be quoted for so long and that accent is the accent so to get someone else who wasn’t even gonna be – cause I like villains to…be somewhat believable in terms of their physicality. I don’t like to hire really tiny bad guys. I want to hire people who are big enough to probably beat you up. And so there aren’t any comics who can do that accent, who are big enough, and “Borat” so screw it, I’ll – and we were gonna go French, maybe Jean Reno, could’ve been cool you know. Cause he’s big –
JC: Well, we have an audit we’re in the middle of with Fox and when that is resolved, which I’m sure will be soon, hopefully, we will – we’ve written ten drafts of that script, we have a great idea –
I’m sure you’ve had a lot of strange fan experiences; do you have a particularly creepy one?
JC: You can always run into us in bars – we’re in bars a lot when we do these live shows. And it gets, you know, a little out of hand because they have become sort of party movies…people smoked grass with their friends and watched these movies, sometimes multiple, multiple times, and you kind of…get confused with one of their friends almost, right? And so they’re…very anxious to smoke grass with you, they’re very anxious to chug against you and they’re very anxious to do a shot with you, and they want to do all three.
So, how do you feel about the comedy genre in general today?
JC: Well I think that it’s pretty exciting in that it’s all R-rated.
I love that too.
JC: You know Todd Phillips is doing well with his “Hangover” stuff, which are good movies, I think both of them – I really dig them both. And Judd is doing well with his stuff – I mean, I think, I’m grateful that there’s so much acceptance of R-Rated stuff because we can only do that.
I think you were one of the first to start doing it.
JC: We were on the front edge of it. I know that the Farrelly’s were doing it before us. It was important to us that we make movies that were similar to the films that we grew up on. When we got into the business, this town was really PG-13 oriented and it was like, “We’re not gonna play that game…even if it means fewer people will go to the movies.” Which is what it means.
JC: It was what it meant then. Nobody could account for this explosion of DVD that also happened when we were coming up. Like the “Super Troopers” DVD is like, it’s sort of legendary, you know, how big it actually got. And so the money ended up kind of evening out in a good way. And so it’s – I think that the problem with comedy for the moment is that…the studios are more and more going for foreign-driven movies. So, actors that can make films that can work in the foreign markets. Comedies don’t do that and so I think comedies are going to have to…start to downsize their budgets because foreign value is zero. But I think it’s…I think the internet has made it impossible to go back to PG-13 movies. I mean, you can watch someone blowing a donkey – and people do, I don’t – but you know what I mean? Our sensibilities are now…it’s okay. It’s hard to offend people in the theaters [laughs].
—-Mila Pantovich is the Lifestyle Editor with luxury magazine JustLuxe and maintains her own film site Reel Obsession.