This video mostly speaks for itself, but while you’re here I might as well give you the behind-the-music explanation of how it came about.
So the guys from The Lonely Island (Jorma Taccone, Andy Samberg, and Akiva Shaffer) are currently doing the rounds on the press tour for Popstar: Never Stop Stopping. I loved the movie, which isn’t especially surprising, considering I’ve been watching Lonely Island videos since I was in college. My friends and I would parrot lines from “Stork Patrol” at each other like the dude-bros we were as if it was our own inside joke (nasty plumage!). This was back in the pre-YouTube days, before “going viral” had been entirely codified and you didn’t know whether a funny video you liked had been seen by 10 other people or 10 million. I think the I first heard about it was as “so-and-so’s friends from UCLA make these funny videos, I think you’d like them.”
Their videos always felt like much better, funnier versions of stuff my friends and I had made. Popstar felt like the ultimate expression of that — silly high school mockumentary version 10.8. Naturally, I jumped at the chance to interview them. It’s not often you get the chance to talk to people whose work you’ve been following for 10 or 15 years, right at the moment their talent and fame seem to be peaking. I answered the publicist back right away, and she gave me the date and time for the junket. “You’ll have four minutes,” she wrote.
I don’t know if you’ve ever interviewed anyone before, but you’re not exactly going to do a Marc Maron-esque, soul-bearing deep dive in four minutes (not that four minutes isn’t fairly typical of press tour slots). On a speed date, four minutes would be just enough time to get through “Hi, what’s your name, where you from, pretty good coffee here, huh? Okay, gotta go!”
I had plenty of serious questions I wanted to ask: What happened to that Chester guy from Stork Patrol? What’s the line between “real rap” and The Lonely Island? I mean how much different is a line like “I want to terrorize that pussy” in the Bin Laden song from half the things Eazy E might’ve rapped in the 90s? What makes The Lonely Island “parody” when plenty of “real” rap albums have just as many sketches?
Of course, four minutes isn’t really enough time to get introspective. How many times have you looked deep within yourself with someone you met 90 seconds ago? I had just enough time to get through one thing I wanted to know, and it had to be something easy to answer. Something that wasn’t especially reflective. Something like, “Was that really Judd Apatow’s dick in Popstar like you’ve been saying or is this just a promotional stunt?”
It’s a question I legitimately wanted to know the answer to, but I figured even if I didn’t get it it’d still be funny. Four minutes isn’t enough to stop being polite and start getting real, but it might be just enough time to learn every detail about a 15-second dick scene. And so, I decided to ask only about Judd Apatow’s dick.
I didn’t tell anyone about my plan. On the day of, I was sitting in the hotel lobby trying to decide whether to go through with it. I had a piece of paper on which I was scribbling down a series of dick questions. I folded it in half and wrote down some serious questions on the other side, just in case my plan backfired and it all went to hell. At the time I was sitting on a set of couches with a group of other journalists, presumably all about to ask normal, press tour questions. Questions like “What was it like working with Seal?”
During roll call with the PR reps, the guy next to me identified himself as “Baby Huey from The Bone.” God I love morning radio.
Eventually I got called into the room to meet the dudes, sitting in a room full of lights and cameras and crew and a publicist or two. It just so happened that my review had gone up that morning, and the first thing Akiva Schaffer said to me, sounding completely earnest, was how much they’d liked the review. That I’d picked up on a lot of things they were hoping people would get but didn’t expect them to. That may not seem like much (and if you want to know how to manipulate your press, this is exactly how you would do it), but in the world of the film critic, that’s about as much validation as you’re ever going to get. Really? You’re saying I’m not a fraud?
I’m not typically the kind of person that fanboys out on people, but if ever there was a situation where I was going to, it’d be this. Nonetheless, I’d come there to do a job, and a job I was going to do. I knew that as soon as the director hit the start button on the timer, I’d have to switch into Judd Apatow’s dick mode. I was going to be the Mike Wallace of Judd Apatow’s dick.
And that, kids, is the story of how I met some personal comedic influences of mine, felt validated for five seconds, and then spent the entirety of my time with them talking about another man’s penis.
Vince Mancini is a writer, comedian, and podcaster. A graduate of Columbia’s non-fiction MFA program, his work has appeared on FilmDrunk, the UPROXX network, the Portland Mercury, the East Bay Express, and all over his mom’s refrigerator. Fan FilmDrunk on Facebook, find the latest movie reviews here.