The High Times Interview: Broken Lizard

‘High Times’ caught up with the legendary comedy group Broken Lizard to talk ‘Super Troopers 2’, movies, and marijuana.
The High Times Interview: Broken Lizard
Lauren Hurt

Seventeen years after the release of the cult hit Super Troopers, Broken Lizard is back in shades and mustaches for the comedy troupe’s highly anticipated sequel, Super Troopers 2, which hit theaters on April 20. Broken Lizard first got together when the members were attending Colgate University in 1990, and they’ve been performing together ever since—in live stage shows as well as films like Club Dread and Beerfest. In honor of the release of Super Troopers 2, Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, and Erik Stolhanske sat down with High Times to discuss making movies, marijuana, the meow game, and much more.

So the long-awaited Super Troopers 2 comes out on 4/20…

Kevin Heffernan (KH): It’s now considered like a holiday, right?

Erik Stolhanske (ES): International holiday, yeah.

Paul Soter (PS): Now we’re giving you something to do on that holiday, which is kind of a cool thing.

Jay Chandrasekhar (JC): Because all the best holidays have an activity.

KH: Christmas activity, Halloween activity, Easter activity.

Steve Lemme (SL): 4/20 has an activity now.

What can we expect to see in the new film?

JC: Well, we’re all in it, the five of us, that’s for sure.

PS: Brian Cox.

KH: A bunch of people came back. Lynda Carter’s back.

JC: The mustaches are all about double the size.

SL: There’s extra mustaches.

KH: There’s 20 percent more mustache, and then there are other characters with mustaches as well.

SL: There’s a lot of new players, too, like Rob Lowe’s in the movie, which is great.

KH: And Mounties. We have Mounties this time. Will Sasso and Tyler Labine and Hayes MacArthur.

ES: And live animals.

We read that the bear fucker makes a reappearance?

ES: A twist. A twist on the bear fucker.

The High Times Interview: Broken Lizard
Photos by Lauren Hurt

How did you develop your roles starting out as a comedy troupe? How did Kevin become the villain? How did Jay become the director?

JC: Back when we did sketch shows at Colgate, they weren’t cast until several drafts into all of the sketches, so that nobody wrote for themselves, because it’s sort of the natural thing you would do. So you’re writing on every sketch because you’re like, “I don’t know, I might be in that one.” That’s the approach we took with this film originally. We didn’t cast it until, like, draft 20 of 35. So you had to write jokes for every character. There was a point where I was going to play Farva and you [Kevin] were going to play Thorny.

PS: We did a table read where everyone played different characters, right?

ES: Yeah, and everyone took a shot.

SL: Although I didn’t try to read for the part of Farva, because I was going after [Kevin]. When you read it, I was like, “There’s no point.”

PS: He’s the biggest asshole.

ES: That’s our Farva.

PS: We could do, like, a YouTube thing where we took turns re-creating scenes with each of us getting to be Farva.

You should do it for the closing credits of your next film.

KH: We can just put it in Super Troopers 3.

JC: It’s funny, because that’s also a good cold open for the movie. Like, one of the guys as Farva, and then he wakes up in a cold sweat.

It’s interesting to hear about a table read, because there are so many iconic lines in Super Troopers. Obviously, it was scripted, but a lot of it must have been improvised.

JC: The first film only had about seven or eight improvised lines.

SL: We wrote 35 drafts, crafted every single thing. Occasionally we needed some filler.

KH: The budget was so tight. We got three takes max for everything.

PS: We couldn’t fuck up, so we had to get what we had written. But improvs did make it in.

JC: Not many.

PS: Well, we rehearsed a lot. We would rehearse a lot to be ready to go, and improvs would come out in the rehearsal and then they’d make it into the script.

JC: The style of the film somehow makes people think that everybody was sort of making it up on the spot.


JC: Which is wildly untrue. But in the second movie, we improvised, probably, 20 percent?

Do you have a most memorable day filming, for the original or the new one?

KH: The first one, I feel like there were several, like the prison yard was very memorable.

ES: Yeah, the bulletproof jockstrap.

SL: The shooting range that we were filming was the shooting range for the Fishkill Maximum Security Prison, which means that they’re bad criminals. And the wing that was looking out over the shooting range was the wing for the worst of the worst.

JC: The ones who’d killed the most fish.

SL: Yeah. [laughs] And then killed other prisoners in the prison. All they knew was that there was a cop taking his clothes off and then getting shot at by other cops. These guys were shouting the filthiest stuff at me all day long.

PS: And you were in a kimono so you wouldn’t get sunburned, and you had an umbrella over your head.

SL: Yeah, so there was a red kimono. There was a little parasol-type thing that somebody was holding over me, right? Because I’m in a movie.

PS: But maybe it’s really because they thought the prisoners were going to throw their feces at you and piss on you.

JC: We weren’t that close.

PS: I know, but they could try. You know, what else are they going to do?

SL: But when I took off the umbrella and took off the robe and was naked, there was like a fucking cheer that went up from the prison.

JC: I also remember when we shot the powdered-sugar scene, because we were with this guy Daniel von Bargen, who played the local police chief. He’s just a serious actor, and so you’re putting this serious actor next to my naked friend who’s covered in powdered sugar. And he was just so fucking cool and straight and great. He just played it tough, and I’m like, “Could you throw the tiniest look at his dick?” And he goes, “Okay.” And then he did it. I’m like, “That was fucking perfect.” And I said, “So what do you think?” And he’s like, “It is what it is.”

The High Times Interview: Broken Lizard

Speaking of working with serious actors, what’s it like working with Brian Cox?

KH: You know, we didn’t pursue him. His agent came to us. They had read the script and said, “Brian’s a big fan of comedy and he doesn’t get to do comedy a lot.” We were fans of his, and he came in and did a great job. He came back this time. I think we pushed him too hard in the second movie.

ES: Too many night scenes.

PS: Doesn’t love night shoots.

JC: But he was a delight.

SL: Oh, he’s so good. He’s such a professional.

PS: That’s actually true with every outside actor we bring into our movies. They’re all real actors, and we’re five fucking assholes in the middle of this whole thing. Because guys like Brian Cox, everything they say, they nail it. He nails every single take.

ES: He only needs one take, really.

SL: And all those guys. Rob Lowe is a fucking pro. That guy is awesome. And we can’t remember our fucking lines.

PS: We can. But we don’t.

It must be cool for those guys, though, to come onto a set that’s fun and loose and not rigid.

KH: I think people like shooting comedies. It’s a fun set. We have a very family-oriented set, too. But Cox was also fun because I hadn’t seen him in 10 years. I hadn’t seen him in forever, and he walked out there like, “Kevin, hi!” It felt good when he remembered my name. That’s the lowest threshold, and I was like, “Oh, wow, he remembered my name!”

JC: The guy’s great.

Where did the original idea to play cops come from?

JC: We always gravitate toward movies that can handle five coequal male leads, and so you end up with things like police or firemen or…

ES: Basketball.

PS: A basketball team. We have a pool of possible ideas, and that was one of them.

Have you had any run-ins with police?

PS: There was a time in our lives when we were road-tripping and getting pulled over by the cops.

SL: Yeah. Plenty of times. You know, you’re driving and you’re laughing and having a good time, and a cop walks up and immediately you’re a wimp.

ES: They have so much power.

KH: And then the cop leaves and you’re a tough guy again. But there was that moment where you were so vulnerable and you realize that that guy had so much power over you. If they had a sense of humor, they could fuck with you.

Did you get caught smoking?

JC: We never got in trouble for anything. But we’ve had a ton of cops come up to us [after Super Troopers] and say, “The thing we’re thankful about the movie is that you made us seem like the good guys.”

PS: Right. “We’re used to being portrayed as humorless dicks.” I never thought about that ahead of time. We just thought, okay, let’s make [the cops] funny, cool, because they’re us. But then [real police] were like, “Yeah, we are funny and cool, man. People don’t know that.”

KH: As we travel around and do live shows, you go out to meet the audience afterward and it’s this weird dynamic. The crowd is made up of cops and stoners. Those are the people in the room laughing at all the same jokes. It’s a pretty cool dynamic.

SL: It’s like shaggy dudes sitting next to dudes with tight crew cuts.

PS: And mustaches.

ES: And they’re all laughing.

KH: I remember we went to do a live show in Denver right after weed got legalized. There were fans handing us weed in front of cops. We couldn’t handle it.

SL: The cops were like, “Go for it, dude.”

The High Times Interview: Broken Lizard

Do you smoke regularly?

SL: Yeah, for sure.

ES: As prescribed.

KH: My glaucoma kicks in.

JC: Certainly when we write together.

It fits into your writing process, then?

JC: Yeah, it’s good for creative.

SL: I think it’s mandatory. I think it just opens up everybody’s mind.

JC: Yeah. When we’re generating jokes we do, but when we’re generating the structure of the plot we don’t.

PS: It’s good for the very beginning, too, just like, “What do you guys want to do?”

So Potfest, the long-awaited sequel to Beerfest–when is it happening?

JC: If people go to the theater [for Super Troopers 2] in a substantial enough number, then the road to Potfest will be very easy.

KH: Because Warner Brothers owns the movie, so they’ve just got to be like, “Yeah, it’s worth it.”

SL: But we’ll make it. We’d love to make it.

ES: I mean, it was really just a joke. Then it started getting some traction. We started getting phone calls. Then we outlined it.

JC: We have several outlines. We have an animated one. We have two different outlines of the movie. We’ve written about 30, 40 pages of it. I have 40 pages on my computer.

PS: Then we just kind of forked off and did Super Troopers 2.

How do you account for the cult status of Super Troopers?

KH: I think it looks and sounds and feels to people like something they would have done themselves or could have done with their friends. I mean, it was kind of homemade enough and made by dudes who were buddies. I think people love thinking about that idea, making movies with their buddies. Everybody has that conversation.

PS: I think it’s also kind of layered in that way that cult movies are, in the sense that you can watch it multiple times and see new jokes.

ES: I think that lends itself well to cult viewing and guys getting together and watching it in the living room over and over again.

KH: There’s also likability, I think. Our thing was always to try to create a world where people want to come hang out. Like even though my character’s a dick, there’s a lovability, at least. The idea was a group of friends hanging out and you want to be a part of that group of friends.

JC: Poor Farva.

SL: Nobody wants to hang with him.

PS: But I think there’s also relatability, too. I mean, the majority of people who are fans, they’ve got a Farva. They work with a Farva or they’re friends with a Farva.

Do you enjoy being on set or doing stand-up more these days?

SL: They’re both fantastic. Making a movie is fucking awesome. Going out there in front of a live audience is the best.

KH: We work so hard to get onto the set, and you spend 80 percent of your time trying to get onto the set, which I think makes it more precious when it happens.

PS: It tastes a little sweeter, because it really takes so long to get to that point.

JC: Yeah, it takes so much money and effort and time.

The High Times Interview: Broken Lizard

So, for the 4/20 release of Super Troopers 2, how do you recommend people prepare for seeing the film?

SL: It’s a good weed movie.

JC: It really is a good weed movie.

SL: Turn to your friend and say, “Dab me out.”

PS: Dab meow-t.

KH: Oh, there you go.

Does the meow game ever get old? Do people constantly try it with you?

SL: Happens on planes, like the captain will do it…

PS: I had it happen boarding a plane where I assumed it was because the gate agent knew I was there, and then I walked up and the guy was like, “Holy shit!” I was like, “Why were you doing that?” He’s like, “Because I just do it. I do it all the time.”

JC: I think it’s funny when people come up and they’re so excited to do it and they mess it up.

ES: Yeah, they don’t get the joke.

They just say “meow” at you?

PS: They’re like, “I’m going to leave, uh, meow later…”

JC: “So how meow you doing today?”

SL: Yeah, you’re like, that’s not the joke.

PS: I think it’s adorable.

JC: Someday they’ll watch the movie and they’ll be like, “Oh, I get it! It’s ‘now!’”

SL: “Holy shit!”

PS: “Well, that’s dumb.” [laughs]

By Mike Gianakos & Mary Jane Gibson; This feature was published in the June 2018 issue of High Times magazine, subscribe right here.

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