Voices of Rhode Island Comic Con: Broken Lizard Edition
Broken Lizard is a comedy troupe consisting of Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, and Erik Stolhanske. The group got its start in 1990 at Colgate University when Jay and Kevin put together a one act comedic play to help out a friend. It was four years later when they made their leap to film with the short Tinfoil Monkey Agenda. 2 years later they would debut their first feature length film. The group collaborated on the screen-writing, acting and production of five films and counting, with Chandrasekhar as the primary director. The films all have a comedic element with something else pushing the plot. For example, Super Troopers is an action comedy, Club Dread is a horror comedy and Beerfest is a sports comedy. For the latest entry into the “Voices of RICC” series, I was able to speak with Brittany Daniel, one of the stars of Club Dread, as well as Lizards Paul Soter and Erik Stolhanske. Don’t forget to go see Paul and Erik when their new film, Super Troopers 2, hits theaters on April 20th 2018.
If you are a fan of the Broken Lizard films, there is no doubt you recognize Brittany from Club Dread, but you might also know her from Joe Dirt, White Chicks or Sweet Valley High. She got her start on Swans Crossing, with people like Sarah Michelle Gellar and Mira Sorvino, before moving on to Sweet Valley High, where she starred opposite her twin sister Cynthia.
Club Dread is an under appreciated film. What would you say to the people who havent seen it to give it a shot? I think they did such a good job of mixing horror and comedy, and that can be so hard to do. All of the characters are just so ridicoulous, and it has action on top of everything else. Also, it’s the Broken Lizard guys! Why wouldn’t you want to see them in everything they do?
Why do you think Joe Dirt 2 has had a more difficult time finding success than the original? I think it is because we didn’t have the press behind it. It was on Crackle, which is great, because using a streaming service is becoming more popular. Like, how all of Adam Sandler’s movies are on Netflix. The first Joe Dirt wasn’t that popular in the theaters. It just grew this big following On Demand and through rentals. I hope that kind of thing happens here, were a lot of people just find it and dig into it.
How long did it take you to learn your choreography for the dance battle scene in White Chicks? We had dance rehersals for three or four days and we learned this really great hip hop routine. The night before filming, Keenen Ivory Wayans wanted to see what we put together and he was like, “No, that’s way to good. You were supposed to be ‘white girl’ good. I need you to dork that up a little.” So we went back and reworked it to make it a little cornier, which I think made it so much more funny.
Why did it take nine years for another Broken Lizard film to be released? We knew we wanted to do the sequel to Super Troopers about 6 or 7 years ago and we went to the studio (Fox) who owned the rights. Their theatrical group was kind of lukewarm on the idea because it made most of its money in the home entertainment market. So, we went back to write the script because we wanted to show them we were serious about this plan. We spent about a year and a half to two years to get the script where we wanted it before going back to the studio. After meeting with them again, we decided well maybe if we try and get the money ourselves, it will show there is a built-in fan base. That’s what led us to the Indiegogo campaign. I’m really glad we did it because our fans really stepped up and showed them that there are a lot of fans out there.
I saw your Indiegogo page and you had some really unique perks. How did that come about? There is a real science and art to making a successful campaign. We thought, you know, you just put up a website and ask people for money, but it isn’t that simple. We ending up bringing in this guru of crowdfunding and he had us redo our site, our video, and helped us come up with some really interesting perks. Did anyone take the perk where they would get to keep a police cruiser from the movie? That actually went right away. It went so fast, we put up a second cruiser. But the first guy was like, “Hey, I bought that because it was one of a kind!” He was right, so we took down the second one.
What can we expect to see in Super Troopers 2 next year? It picks up at an undetermined amount of time later. The guys are stilling doing stuff together, but are working in different capacities. Some things will be the same, but we wanted a lot of things to be different so we could have this “assembling the team” moment.
What was your favorite film to perform in or write? To write, it was the Super Troopers sequel because it was great to get back to it after such a long break. It was also nice because we knew the characters. We would know how Mac or Farva would react in a given situation, so it flowed a lot faster and was a lot of fun.
What was it like playing a priest in Badlands of Kain? Through a producer I know, I was put in contact with the director, who offered me a bad guy part in his horror movie. I love horror movies but I don’t regard myself as much of an actor. To whatever degree I am, I’m the guy who does funny stupid things with my friends. Then, I thought to myself, nobody else is going to call me up and offer me a serious dramatic bad guy role in a horror movie, so of course I’m going to do it. So, I said yes, but since I am not a “bad guy” guy, let me help you recraft this character so it doesn’t come across as silly. Originally the guy had this big intimidating physical presence, and that’s not me, so we worked to find the type of bad guy I could be. It was a really cool experience, like I said. I love horror movies and it was great to be able to do something different as an actor.
What can you tell us about the story of why it took nine years to get from Slammin’ Salmon to Super Troopers 2? 2008 was a weird time because the DVD market disappeared, the economy crashed, and the film industry focused more on tentpole films. It was a kind of perfect storm against us trying to get a film off the ground at that time. So, then we turned to crowdfunding, and it took us several years to raise the money, then film, edit and now market. It just took some time.
What can we expect to see in Super Troopers 2 next year? It’s funny. We kind of struggled with that; should we go back in time and play our fathers? Just where should we take, it since it has been several years? We decided that a little time had passed, and we pick it up, kind of where the audience last saw us.
Are you and the guys working on anything yet or are you waiting to see how Super Troopers 2 performs? We have written a lot of scripts over the years, so we have a lot of things on the shelf that we could work on next. We have also started a treatment for Super Troopers 3, just in case the sequel performs as well as we hope. We all had so much fun working on this one, that we all wanted to be prepared, just in case.