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Capone discusses the fine art of the jizz comedy with THE BABYMAKERS Jay Chandrasekhar and Kevin Heffernan!!!

Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here.

So technically, the new comedy THE BABYMAKERS is not a Broken Lizard production, although the film was directed by Jay Chandrasekhar, one of the busiest members of the comedy troupe that brought us SUPER TROOPERS, CLUB DREAD, BEERFEST, THE SLAMMIN' SALMON. Chandrasekhar also directed DUKES OF HAZARD and numerous episodes of "Undeclared," "Arrested Development," "Chuck," "Community," "Happy Endings," "Up All Night," and "Psych." Plus, he's a Chicago native, so he gets points for that as well.

Back in March, I saw THE BABYMAKERS, about a couple (Paul Schneider and Olivia Munn) who discover they are unable to have a child because the husband's doesn't have strong swimmers, but that wasn't always the case. Schnider's character remember that he used to donate sperm to a sperm bank for money when he was money, and when the facility refuses to let him use his more virile samples, he and a few co-horts cook up a scheme to steal back his samples. Simple enough, right?

Broken Lizard regular Kevin Heffernan joins his buddy Chandrasekhar in THE BABYMAKERS cast and for an interview I conducted with the pair during the SXSW Film Festival this past March, the morning after the world premiere of THE BABYMAKERS. As you might expect, it was a lively, slightly vulgar affair. Oddly enough, although I've never interviewed any of the Broken Lizard crew, I did meet Chandrasekhar once on stage at the Alamo Drafthouse during one of recent Butt-Numb-a-Thon, where he and several Broken Lizard guys challenged certain Ain't It Cool writers to a beer-chugging contest. Naturally, they destroyed us, but Broken Lizard are professionals, so there was very little shame. Anyway, please enjoy my humorous chat with Jay Chandrasekhar and Kevin Heffernan…

Capone: Late night last night?

Kevin Heffernan: Kind of. It wasn’t that crazy, though.

Jay Chandrasekhar: It wasn’t that crazy.

KH: We’ve been here many times with our films, and I feel like it’s gotten a lot crazier, but now we're old. That’s what it comes down to.

[Everyone Laughs]

Capone: Do you find yourself just like wherever you go people just want to buy you drinks?

KH: Yeah, it’s a little bit of “be careful what you wish for.” But you make a movie called BEERFEST, and people want to drink beers with you.

Capone: That sets the standard, yeah.

KH: You don’t really realize that as you move on.

Capone: Let’s talk about the baby-making movie genre, because it has almost become its own little subgenre.

JC: It is.

Capone: What are some of the favorites amongst you guys? We came up with a small list yesterday, but I want to see what you think.

JC: Oh really? Of the baby-batter movies? Like of current ones?

Capone: From like the '80s on, yeah.

JC: Would you consider PARENTHOOD a baby movie?

KH: There’s an element of it, right? Isn’t that one of the subplots?

JC: I think KNOCKED UP is a great film.

Capone: But that’s accidental.

KH: That’s not a baby-making movie.

Capone: I’m talking about people setting out to make a baby. There are only a few.

JC: Well I haven’t seen them all.

KH: There are ones recently, like the Bateman one. It was originally called THE BASTER, but they turned it to like THE SWITCH.

Capone: That’s probably the most recent one.

KH: The thing is we’ve had this script for five or six years, and we saw all of them kind of come—pun intended. But I didn’t see THE SWITCH.

JC: I didn’t either.

Capone: We took it back to like SHE’S HAVING A BABY.

KH: That was the Kevin Bacon one, right?

Capone: Yeah, which is a comedy, but it’s also kind of heartbreaking at times. Then we’ve got JUNIOR of course.

KH: SHE'S HAVING A BABY, I remember going to see that in a theater, but that was probably 1994?

Capone: No, it was in the late '80s, actually.

KH: It was? Oh, I was in college then.

Capone: 1988.

JC: We were too macho to see a movie called SHE’S HAVING A BABY.

KH: We went with the fraternity. We had 10 dudes that went to go see it. I don’t even think we understood it. We were like, “Wait a minute, what?”

Capone: Well BABY MAMA might be the best one.


Capone: That’s probably my favorite recent one. But with a comedy about that, you do run the risk of alienating men, because it’s about having a baby. But you also run the risk of alienating women, because you’re mocking something that’s very real for them. So what makes it ripe for comedy?

KH: I think the cool thing about this one was that it was kind of guy oriented, and then on top of that kind of baby issue they plot this sperm bank heist into it, and I think that that gave it kind of a funny angle to it. You take the baby-making movie genre and then you move it into the heist movie and smoosh them together.

Capone: It's the TOWER HEIST of this genre.

JC: It’s like TOWER HEIST with sperm.

Capone: The scene everyone's going to talk about is you in the “jizz room.”

JC: Fresh-sample storage.

Capone: What was that? Like for real?

KH: That was Jay’s semen.

Capone: What percentage was actual jizz?

KH: Jay provided much of the semen for the movie.

JC: I have a wide load.

Capone: Someone gets called "Mr. Fire Hose” in the movie.

KH: “Mr. Fire Hose over here.” It was mostly lotion, right?

JC: It was lotion and hair conditioner, lots of it. I mean just buckets of it.

KH: When I went home, I was soft and smooth and well moisturized.

Capone: Your hair has never been shinier.

JC: Even knowing what it was, it was just quite disgusting. I was looking at it and I’m like “Do we really want to… Oh, we're going there? Okay. Well, we’ve gone there.” That’s what he said when he got up “Well, we went there.”

[Everyone Laughs]

Capone; Yeah, the audience really reacted to it.

KH: That’s the first time I had seen it with an audience, and I had an idea that’s how it would play, but I couldn't tell it was like an “Oh my God!” and everybody was like “Ahhhhh!” It’s hard to tell.

Capone: Half of me just expected you to come up covered in it, but the other half thought that you might have broken vials sticking out of your body.

KH: Last night at the screening, Johnny Knoxville was like four rows ahead of us, and in the middle of that scene and the crowd is going crazy, he turned around and gave me a look [shakes his head in disgust].

Capone: He wouldn’t go there. I don’t think he’d do that.

KH: He would do it for real, though.

Capone: What do you guys like about bringing your films here? I think I saw SLAMMIN SALMON here.

KH: We’ve brought everything here. We brought SUPER TROOPERS here. We brought…


Capone: Those two were before I used to come down here, but what do you like about bringing them here and opening your movies here?

JC: The audiences here are film savvy, so they understand like “Okay, this is a film in that genre.” They seem to like films that are horror movies and hard comedies, and you can’t shock this audience. They’re intellectual, but they also smoke grass, and so that combo is like the perfect fan for our movies. That’s why our movies do really well in San Francisco; it’s the same kind of really smart, grass-smoking crowd.

KH: I think the audiences for us have always been a fun group. They're always very rowdy and they like to have a good time, but they are very tuned in. It’s a weird combination. Some festivals you go to, and maybe it’s a little bit more snooty or they don’t really take well to our movies or whatever it is, but here it’s always very rowdy and fun.

Capone: It’s got to be a huge boost of confidence bringing a movie here before you set it loose on the rest of the world.

KH: I think that's true. “They liked it in Austin.”

Capone: I forgot, we actually have met very briefly once before when you guys stopped in at Butt-Numb-A-Thon a couple of years ago, and we did the beer-slamming contest that we lost embarrassingly.

JC: We killed you.

Capone: Yeah, you smoked us.

KH: There was one contest where they brought anyone from a foreign country, but that’s not that one.

Capone: No, this is Butt-Numb-A-Thon. You guys just walked in, because the SLAMMIN' SALMON had just opened at the Drafthouse. You humbled us.

JC: That's rigth. We are professionals, so you can’t expect to walk up there and win. [Laughs]

Capone: I walked out of there going “You know what? I just lost a beer-slamming contest to the guys that made BEERFEST. I’m not embarrassed by that. Back to BABYMAKERS, so semen jokes basically write themselves, right?

JC: You want to do the classiest version you can. I mean there’s a certain amount of laughter built into semen, right? You just want to try to take the smartest road you can.

KH: Because it can get away from you. It can get away from you.

Capone: Not only is semen funny, but the act of acquiring it is funny.

KH: Any way you do it, yeah.

JC: When guys jerk off, they go into their own fantasy worlds, but when you’re supplying the semen that’s supposed to make your baby, you should really jerk off about your wife in a fairly clean way, in a fairly missionary-style sex way.

Capone: Which he tries to do.

JC: He shouldn’t go into thoughts of your high school French teacher, because then your kid’s going to be related to that.

Capone: You worked with Olivia before, but Paul [Schneider] was new to the group, to the dynamic. When you start working with actors that you haven’t worked with before, do you kind of put them a kind of hazing to indoctrinate them into your way of working? Or is it a little more conventional than we want to believe?

JC: We’ve worked with actors like Brian Cox. They're very used to playing darker, more serious characters, and so you have to kind of get them up to rhythm. We speak at a certain rhythm, and so you start to crush the pauses in between a little more. Usually they fall into the groove pretty quickly. They're like, “Oh, you guys do this,” and if it works, they jump in right at the same rhythm, but they also add their own thing. Paul Schneider is a really good actor, and when you get to act with a really good actor, no offense…[gestures to Kevin]

KH: Thank you.

JC: …you're like “That’s a real actor over there.”

KH: I think people like that. We have a very fun set, so I think when people come to it they enjoy it and they get like, “Okay, here’s what’s going on.” I think there’s always those moments, for example, when Jay gets in front of the camera to act and he'll do something, and then I’ll say something like, “That sucked. Do this. Try this.” For a second, a guy like Paul is like, “What’s going on here? This guy is acting with me, and he’s the director what the fuck is going on?” They have that moment and then they get past it and then they start getting mouthy and you tell them to shut the hell up.

Capone: Paul is a really subtle, quiet actor in most movies, so to see him do something broad was a real change. Was it tough for him?

KH: I think that’s the way he is. I think he’s like that, though. I mean he's a funny, funny guy and he loves doing that stuff. I know what you are saying. The first time I really remember connecting with the guy was in LARS AND THE REAL GIRL. It’s a very different thing, which is very cool if you can do it.

Capone: There was one thing in the film, one plot element, where I was wondered “Is that really a concern?” When Olivia reacts to finding out that Paul did the sperm bank thing when he was younger, and she’s like, “You could have 20 kids out there!” Is that like a real thing? Do women get freaked out about that?

JC: I think they do. I think if you couldn’t have a kid with your husband, yet he had all of these children out there, it would feel like you got the raw end of the deal.

KH: I think that happened to Pete [Gaulke], the writer, because he did donate sperm to buy a wedding ring, and I think that she found out and was a little bit put off.

JC: Because they were having trouble conceiving.

KH: That’s right.

Capone: My favorite line in the movie is her referring to her engagement ring as the “cum diamond.” So SUPER TROOPERS is a little more than 10 years old; PUDDLE CRUISERS is more than 15. You guys were kind of on that front end of bringing the R-rated comedy back into fashion. Do you feel like you have your place in this little part of film history?

KH: I think that the R-rated thing is cyclical, like it comes and it goes, and sometime we're in the right spot and sometime we're not in the right spot, but we’ve always been the R comedy guys anyway.

JC: We grew up on those movies like the John Landis and Ivan Reitman movies. We were 10 when we saw films like ANIMAL HOUSE, TRADING PLACES, CADDYSHACK, and 48 HOURS and those kinds of movies. As we grew up, those films are all the best ones, and they all had a little bit of nudity and a little bit of drug use, and we wanted to make those kinds of movies. So our taste is that, so whether the current thing is R or PG, it doesn’t really matter. That’s sort of our thing. I mean other people are doing tons of it too. I think the Farrelly brothers were doing it before us.

KH: That’s true.

JC: But there was this huge chunk of time when it got to be PG-13, and you hope that the filmmakers who grew up watching those movies don’t end up doing a bunch of PG-13 movies in the next wave.

Capone: I did want to ask one last question, specifically to you Jay, because you have had this incredible run of directing all of this great TV. Is there a difference to you in doing like a really great episode of television versus a movie?

JC: When I do television, I’m there for the head writer. I will write little jokes here and there and have the actors do them, but ultimately I’m there to execute what that head writer wants. So I give them what I think is the best version of their show, and then you turn it over to them and they re-cut it however they want to. It’s amazing to do television, because it happens so fast, and you’re really locked into a time. The episode has to shoot in seven days. If it shoots more, it will have a domino effect down the line, and the money will get shorter for the later episodes, so you get in this, “Okay, we need these five shots to tell the whole story,” and you get very efficient as a filmmaker. I’ve shot 15 party scenes, so I'm like, “I’ll shoot this one hand held,” or “Okay, I’m going to shoot this one long lens.” You see what you like, and then when you make a movie you’re like, “We’re doing that, because I’ve done all of these different versions and this is the best on in my opinion.” I love it.

Capone: So one feeds the other.

JC: Yeah, and you’re also working with all of these great comedy actors over and over again. It’s nice.

Capone: Alright, well they are wrapping me. Thank you guys. It was great to meet you without a beer-drinking competition to divide us.

-- Steve Prokopy
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