You'll never look at frogs the same way again

I am a huge fan of "Broken Lizard". Everyone loves Super Troopers, but their third feature, "Club Dread", sank like the Titanic at the box office. I thought it was pretty funny, but will readily admit it's not their best work. That distinction belongs to Beerfest. The film is a riot, absolutely hilarious. So funny and clever, it makes "Talladega Nights" look like a tearjerker. Beerfest is destined to be a classic. It really is the Animal House for the 21st century.

The interviews for Beerfest were the most fun in recent memory. We actually went on a pub-crawl, on a double decker bus nonetheless, with the hard-drinking chaps from "Broken Lizard". Most web writers can't drink a lick, but I'm proud to say I held up my own, as well as a few others.

How did you guys come up with the idea for Beerfest?

PAUL SOTER: They sent us to Australia to promote Super Troopers. They had us do all sorts of crazy stuff. They sent us to a big beer fest. We got there and we were supposed to talk about our movie, but it turned into a chugging competition, which turned into arm wrestling, which it then got weird so they had to shuttle us out of there. We're like, beer festivals are crazy, totally fucking crazy. It's a funny world and it's fun to put a bunch of people together, and everybody should get as drunk as they can, and compete in whatever there is to compete with. We were so tickled with the idea that we wondered, what if we were on some kind of beer drinking team and we competed against guys in other countries.

STEVE LEMME: We loved being in Australia but it's funny because nobody knew who we were. They were sending us around in our Super Troopers costumes, including an appearance at a tire store opening, and they would say, "These are the 'Super Troopers' and they're from America." People would be like [makes a horrific face]. One night, Jay and I snuck out because the Fox reps were all over us. They wouldn't let us out of their site. We snuck out and met these people on the street. They were like, "Who are you?" And we're like, "We're the 'Super Troopers.' We're from America." They brought us to a bar and they're like, "These are the 'Super Troopers.' They're from America." And the whole place was like, "YEAH!" They were carrying us around and had no idea who we were.

So you drank so much down under it inspired a movie?

JAY CHANDRASEKHAR: I can tell you when we were the most drunk in Australia. We were in Surfer's Paradise and we came out of a bar. I don't know if it was 3 or 4 in the morning. It was like it was out of a zombie movie. There was a guy we saw walk literally into a small tree. He hit the tree and laid in the dirt. You could see his eyes open. It was just mayhem coming out of Surfer's Paradise. Australians have a certain zest for life.

How long does it take you guys to write something like this?

JAY CHANDRASEKHAR: About a year. We have many scripts going at one time. We do about 20 - 25 drafts. We put one guy in charge of another guy's character.

STEVE LEMME: There are so many different phases. At the beginning, we spend three or four days in somebody's living room throwing out every idea on the topic. It's my favorite part of the writing process. Then, eventually, we outline 20 pages and we begin to hone in and craft the jokes. The last thing we do is assign characters so that nobody is writing for themselves. Once we assign characters, we start tweaking to adjust to somebody's body type.

How much actual beer did you end up drinking during the shoot?

JAY CHANDRASEKHAR: It depended on what time of day it was. There was a lot more real beer drinking in the afternoon than the evening. We tend to stay up pretty late playing beer pong. There was a big University of New Mexico crowd down there working for us. They were very anxious to beat the hell out of us in beer pong, so we played a lot of that at nights. But when we rolled in at 7, you had to drink; on the heavy beer days, it wasn't fun.

KEVIN HEFFERNAN: The touch scenes were the ones in which we had to chug at like, seven in the morning.

STEVE LEMME: One of the heaviest beer chuggers that we saw was an American guy from "Saturday Night Live," Will Forte. He could down a liter of beer in five seconds flat. It's amazing. He's one of those freak of nature guys.

PAUL SOTER: He's incredibly sweet and polite. We were shooting and he just downs it instantaneously and goes, "Do you have another one?" "Do you have another one?" He'd nail like five of those.

KEVIN HEFFERNAN: He'd take two minutes in between to go to his trailer and vomit.

Did he or any of you actually drink "the boot"?

ERIK STOLHANSKE: I never saw him do the boot.

STEVE LEMME: Not many people did the boot.

Was the rest of the cast into the drinking?

STEVE LEMME: We were surprised people were really eager. We'd cut them loose. We shot a scene and he [Will Forte] must've drunk like 15 beers. Real beers. There was one bathroom break where he had to go and he came back.

JAY CHANDRASEKHAR: It was very realistic. He had watery eyes.

How did you get Cloris Leachman? She's hilarious as "Gam Gam".

JAY CHANDRASEKHAR: We voted for her. We couldn't believe we could get her. She was very open-minded about trying to find where the funniest places would be, the same with Jurgen Prochnow. He's a very stoic guy, but when he came to the set, he was cracking jokes and telling funny stories.

KEVIN HEFFERNAN: You offer a chance for somebody to do something and you think that most people aren't very excited. That's why for Brian Cox and Super Troopers, we're like "there's no chance we'll get Brian Cox", but you offer people the chance to go against type.

STEVE LEMME: Jurgen loved doing the submarine scene. And kissing Monique!

JAY CHANDRASEKHAR: Cloris took a real liking to my lips. She said they were brown and plump. She wanted to kiss me everyday. We had a bigger kiss at the end.

That frog masturbation scene is easily the funniest thing on film this year. How did you think of that?

STEVE LEMME: It happens to be that a friend of mine in high school masturbates frogs for real - for the purpose of science. I'll tell you this, I realized he was embellishing and exaggerating the stories of what he did and what he said. We asked, "What are you doing over there?" He goes, "Masturbating frogs for a living." We're like, "Really?" He goes, "We have to set the atmosphere. We need to have noises of the Amazon rain forest and spray frog pheromones." He didn't expect it to come to life. But I went and he just squeezes the frog and it comes out like that.

That scene, like many others in the film, is pretty daring. How do you know where to draw the line?

JAY CHANDRASEKHAR: If you can't talk about it, then it's too much.

STEVE LEMME: After we did the first test screening of the movie, it played pretty well. These test screenings mean everything. There's a number given by the audience. It played well enough that they encouraged us. They gave us a bit more money and encouraged us to go a bit nuts, write some new stuff, and push it.

Who's your target audience? Is this film just for frat boys?

JAY CHANDRASEKHAR: We aimed the movie at ourselves. We try to make ourselves laugh. The first test screening, it was by far young men loved the movie more than young women. In the second test screening, young women went ahead of young men. I don't know why.

ERIK STOLHANSKE: It was the first time in history that we tested with women higher than men, so it's going to be a whole new era.

Jay, why are you the director of all the "Broken Lizard" films?

JAY CHANDRASEKHAR: I took a couple of film classes. Somebody had to do it. It ended up being me.

How did you all meet and how long will you stay together as a comedy troop?

PAUL SOTER: We like each other. It's actually an exciting part of our relationship with Warner Bros. We can find scripts and say, "OK, let's make this a Broken Lizard production". Now there's the ability to do more than just make our movies, but get other movies made.

KEVIN HEFFERNAN: There used to be thirteen of us. It whittled down.

JAY CHANDRASEKHAR: They're all in rehab right now.

Beerfest is in theaters August 25th and is rated 'R' for pervasive crude and sexual content, language, nudity and substance abuse.

Julian Roman