10 Comics to Watch
Who: Sharing an affinity for beer, skateboarding and movie-making, multihyphenates Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer first bonded during their junior high days in Berkeley, Calif. After graduating from college, they reunited and moved to L.A. in 2000.
While working industry assistant jobs, the trio made their mark churning out musicvideos and “OC” parodies for the Web site Channel 101. They dubbed themselves the Lonely Island; a nickname given to their Olympic Blvd. apartment where they shot their shorts.
Samberg’s “Spin City” boss, consulting producer Andy Maggioni, slipped Lonely Island’s demo to UTA, and a Fox sketch pilot, “Awesome Town,” ensued.
However, it was their writing stint on the 2005 MTV Movie Awards with host Jimmy Fallon that catapulted Lonely Island to full-time gigs on “Saturday Night Live.”
Upon Fallon’s praise, “SNL” producers Steve Higgins and Mike Shoemaker auditioned Lonely Island, resulting in a feature player title for Samberg and scribe credits for Schaffer and Taccone.
“If they (the industry) wanted the best out of us, all three was the way to go,” says Samberg about their joint success.
In just one season, their “SNL” shorts — a melange of anarchistic pop culture riffs, poking fun at everything from white rappers to lettuce commercials — have developed a cult following.
“Lazy Sunday,” a Beastie Boys-style satire about Gothamite slackers’ appetite for cupcakes and “The Chronicles of Narnia,” is revered by the trio’s fans as “The Godfather” of Lonely Island downloads.
When it comes to assessing one another’s abilities, they see Samberg as the actor, Taccone as the music guy and Schaffer as the director.
All of them concur: They write everything.
“Akiva never lets us do anything that no one will get,” says Samberg. “He’s our editor both on page and the computer.”
“A problem with a lot of comedy groups in the beginning is that they aren’t conscious of their image. I’m conscious about taking the old, experimental stuff off our Web site,” Schaffer adds.
What’s going on: Their first feature “Hot Rod” begins lensing in July for Paramount.
Samberg plays an aspiring motorcycle stuntman yearning to fill his legendary father’s shoes.
Ian McShane is along for the ride as his hard-ass stepfather, while Taccone stars as Samberg’s little brother. Schaffer directs.
Take: “You write so much stuff that gets thrown away that the experience teaches you not to be precious with your writing,” says Schaffer about his lessons learned on “SNL.” “It’s a valuable lesson for any rewriting process.”