Q&A with Andy Samberg: Meet the creative genius
Andy Samberg: [After the auditions] I get called to go to New York and meet with Lorne Michaels but he never said, “Congratulations, you’re on the show.” His assistant was smiling at me as I left and said, “So, do you think you got it?” and I said I didn’t really know. “Oh, you got it,” she said. It was awesome, kinda my dream since I was eight years old.
schmooze: Your first of many digital shorts was about lettuce. What started those?
AS: They needed us to do things while they swung the sets around. And, you know, it kind of made sense that that’s the way things started to get good here at SNL. [My friends Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer and I] shot a lot of video and edited as a team. I had spent a lot time with these two guys making videos and that’s just what we did here.
schmooze: Do people recognize you on the street now?
AS: I mean, I’ve been on SNL for three years now and done a feature film, so yeah.
But it was really Lazy Sunday [that started it]. I stepped out of my house and got recognized like five times the next day. That was really the story. Hits on YouTube went up 500 percent on that clip.
schmooze: What’s the strangest interaction you’ve had with a fan?
AS: I’ve had pretty good interactions with fans. Sometimes it’s weird when a dude wants you to kiss his girlfriend. It’s like, “No, that’s your girlfriend.”
schmooze: Was Lazy Sunday actually filmed on a Sunday?
AS: No, it was filmed on Thursday. We were acting, pretending like it was Sunday. I guess I’m a really good actor. We recorded the song the night before and then walked around with a DV camera. Jorma just held the boom box in front of every shot.
schmooze: Had you seen the movie Chronicles of Narnia before filming the short?
AS: We definitely hadn’t seen it.
schmooze: And did you?
AS: I did end up seeing it. It had been out for five or six weeks. I remember being really embarrassed about going in. It’s the same way I won’t go into Magnolia Bakery anymore. But I don’t like their cupcakes much anyway. Too much frosting. Plus, they wanted to confiscate the tape while we were filming. We told them it’s going to be on SNL, but they weren’t following. They freaked out.
schmooze: There’s a new Chronicles of Narnia movie coming out. Lazy Sunday
AS: We’ve joked about it, but I don’t think we have any plans to do anything about it. But who knows, if it’s late in the week and we don’t have another idea. Never say never…
schmooze: So what would be your ideal Sunday?
AS: Pretty much just sleeping off Saturday. Gotta be honest, that’s what I do. It’s good to know I haven’t outlived the college lifestyle. And maybe a nice dinner.
schmooze: What’s your favorite memory from college?
AS: I definitely remember freshman year in UC Santa Cruz in the dorms. Me and my friend Nathan would get upperclassmen to drive us into town and buy cases of forties. Then we would go back and sell them to other people. Nathan was an entrepreneur.
schmooze: Did people give you strange looks rapping on the street?
AS: If had a penny for every strange look I’ve gotten from strangers on the street I’d have about 10 to 15 dollars, which is a lot when you’re dealing with pennies.
schmooze: Have you always rapped or was that something that came later?
AS: [Jorma, Akiva and I] are genuine hip-hop fans since elementary school. There was a span in college when I was actually into rapping: silly style, like now, but with less structure. There was also a joke rap song from high school. My mom has it on some cassette tape somewhere. I think it was something about my friend being Irish and me being Jewish. Something really smart and hilarious, but I mean, we were in high school.
schmooze: How Jewish are you?
AS: Not particularly religious. I’m going home for Passover, but I don’t really go balls out with it. We try not to let it ever inform our comedies. I was saturated with Jewish comedy growing up so it feels like family comedy. I’m never laughing when the punch line is something like, “Oh, just a couple of Jews!”
To clarify, there’s Jewish comedy and there’s Jewish comedy. My comedic life was weaned on Mel Brooks. If it’s done the right way – it’s funny not just because it’s Jewish, but because it’s really funny – that’s great. Basically, when my mom sends me online videos with pop songs redone talking about Passover, I don’t laugh. I don’t like the kind of Jewish humor my mom likes is really what I’m saying.
schmooze: Do any of your ideas come from personal experience?
AS: Sort of the Dopple Ganger one. I had a stand up routine about that as well. “Oh my god, this guy totally looks like you,” and it’s a super ugly dude. We’ve all had that happen to us before.
schmooze: Who would be your dopple ganger?
AS: People say I look like that dude from the Dead Poet’s Society. Anyone with a schnoz. I mean, [my nose] works, it works real well. I smell all kinds of stuff.
schmooze: “Dick in a Box” won an Emmy. Really?
AS: I think we were more surprised by the nomination. Then once we saw everything was a joke song, at that point we just wanted to win.
schmooze: If you could have anything else in a box, what would it be?
AS: I don’t think there can be anything else in the box.