Welcome to Comedy Nerd, a new series at SYFY WIRE in which we talk to people who work in comedy about the geeky stuff they nerd out about.
Jay Chandrasekhar has assembled a successful two-track career: By day, he is a prolific director of popular TV shows; and also by day, he functions as the ostensible lead of Broken Lizard, the comedy troupe responsible for cult hits like the Super Troopers movies and Beerfest. He's also a bit of a geek, who skipped school to watch Star Wars movies and has some strong opinions about the new entries in the franchise.
Did you read comic books growing up?
I did. But apparently not the right kind. I read Archie and Veronica, the Archie comics. And Richie Rich. I was a big reader of Richie Rich and Archie, but I just seem to have chosen the wrong kind of comic book.
Why Archie Comics and not Marvel or DC?
There were too many details in the drawings [of superhero books]. I had a very developed sense of tone when I was a kid. Like, I saw the trailer for Police Academy, and the hats on the cops were sort of cocked a little funny, they were a little to the left, or a little to the right, and the uniforms didn't quite fit. And I'm like, nah, looks a little too broad. I was a kid, and in my head I'm like, "It's too broad."
I didn't know what broad meant. But I was like, that's not right. I'm not gonna watch it. And I've never seen Police Academy. Any of them. And people are like, "Oh yeah, you make movies like Police Academy." I'm like, I hope I don't. I mean, nothing against those guys, they had an enormously successful franchise. But I think of our cops as much more, hopefully, looking like real cops. That's the main difference, right?
Straighter hats, more fitted uniforms.
That's at least what we aspire to. And in terms of comics, I was into the girls in Archie. I was turned on by them. And they did one in particular, which was Veronica in the shower. And they showed an outline of her body through the fogged glass. And I jerked off to it. And I was like, yeah, I'm into this.
It also felt like you were picking it up in the middle. And I could never quite get in front of it. I guess people would go all the way back to issue one when they started. I was aware of that, vaguely. But ultimately I bought my comic books at grocery stores, and I don't remember a large superhero section.
You were ahead of your time, they have a big CW show now.
Is it still called Betty and Veronica?
That's where Archie and those guys went to school. Oh God, that's awesome. I won't watch it, but that's awesome.
Is there a comic book movie or show you'd want to make now?
They sent me the Marvel Encyclopedia and they said, what do you guys want to do? So it's upstairs. My kid's going through it. And he's going to make a list of what he thinks we should do, and I'll go through it. I'm curious to see what a 13-year-old's mind comes up with.
It's cool that Marvel reaches out to filmmakers and says, what are you into?
Yeah. Which is massive. And there are certain ones that are owned by Fox, so you can't do those. But there are plenty of people there — I mean, look at Deadpool. You're like, well, I didn't know you could do that. Great. Let's do something like that. Right?
When'd they send that to you?
It arrived a few days ago. We just had a general meeting. I'm sure I'm not the only one.
Obviously he's not a Marvel comic character, but what was it about Richie Rich that you liked?
It felt like Happy Days. I'm not sure which one came first, but I loved Happy Days. I suppose there's a fascination every kid has with — you know, really what it is is that being a billionaire kid would make you powerful. And that probably brings it back to being a superhero, right? So the appeal of Richie Rich is all about power. I suppose I imagined I would someday get to be, you know, a little billionaire kid.
You've made it pretty far in that quest.
I don't really have close to that. And I'm not a kid, so ... I guess no, I never made it.
I was a very big Star Wars fan. And in fact, my mom let me play sick when Empire Strikes Back came out. And so I got to see it at 10:30 in the morning, alone. At the mall. And that was cool.
And then I was somewhat of a Star Trek fan too, but it was on for such a short period of time. You'd catch it in reruns. And again, I never caught the beginning of the story. Which was fine. I mean, it was an undeniably good show. And then they made a Star Trek movie. The first one was pretty damn good. And the second one was phenomenal. And then they sort of went off the rails. Was it as good as Star Wars? I think Wrath of Khan is certainly better than Return of the Jedi. I think Wrath of Khan probably edges out that one and loses to the first two.
You were 9 when the first Star Wars came out — what was your first screening of that movie like?
I saw Star Wars and like everybody in the neighborhood, we went crazy for it. Of course Han Solo and all that. He's the best. Kind of like a space version of Burt Reynolds, but without the mustache, obviously. I'm surprised he didn't have a mustache. But then they gave Lando Calrissian a mustache.
My dad was this doctor who went to a hypnotist convention in Texas that was designed for people to try to hypnotize people out of smoking. And he came back and he goes, "I was there at the hotel and this guy walks up to me and he asks me if I want to buy a videotape." And I'm like, okay... And he holds up this videotape and it says Star Wars on it, right? And we were the first family in the neighborhood to get a videotape VHS deck. And I was like, holy crap, because it was a bootleg, right? It's illegal. He goes, "I don't like that. But I did it anyway."
My dad never lies, he never steals. But he bought this one bootleg because he's like, f*** it, I'm gonna impress the kid. My friend and I would watch it, and it was so, like, snowy. I don't know if you know what that term is. But basically, you could see it and you could hear it but there was so much interference. And occasionally the sound would get all messed up and then it would come back. But we sat there and watched that tape 50 times. I mean, we watched it so much, because it wasn't out on VHS. Though it probably was still in theaters, because movies were in theaters for a year back then. I was a very popular kid with that thing. And then, when The Empire Strikes Back came out I went to that, opening day. And same thing for Return of the Jedi.
What about the new Star Wars movies?
I watched an entire Star Wars movie, I don't know, I think it was the last one, maybe. Or the one before. And I try to avoid trailers, because I don't want to know anything. I understand studio marketing and I'm like, I'm gonna go see it or I'm not. A trailer's not gonna convince me. Because we make trailers, and we're trying to get people to see our movies.
So I watched this whole Star Wars movie. And then I'm like, are they just being uncreative? Because it was the plot with the Death Star. And then someone was like, it's a prequel. This is the building of the Death Star. I was like, oh, I'm like, already 80 minutes into this thing. I should have watched the trailer.
Ultimately, I find the jumping around in time disconcerting in these current Star Wars movies. That was evidenced by me not knowing where we were when I was watching this movie. But with Han Solo — the reason [the original Star Wars] was so great is because Harrison Ford was so great. I haven't seen the new Solo, and I have nothing against the new guy. Nothing. But nobody is as charismatic as Harrison Ford.
It's easy to look at it now and say they should have done something else. I also think that the movies aren't feeling as special or as funny. You can't put a Star Wars movie out a year. It feels like commerce. Those movies never felt like commerce. They ended up being merchandise-heavy and they were commerce, obviously. But they didn't feel like it. Now they're like, here's your yearly Star Wars movie. And you're like, well, who gives a s***? And I've missed the last two.
It doesn't mean they couldn't recapture it. And I'm sure there are some top minds, probably friends of mine, in rooms right now figuring out how to do it. And I would love to direct a film in the Star Wars pantheon, because I'm a true fan. I would make a film that was more like The Empire Strikes Back. It just had pathos and darkness. It was a great film.
What would your Star Wars movie be about?
I wonder if they should not deal with this whole Skywalker/Leia/Solo thing anymore. If I were them, I would sort of do something like what [Marvel] did with Guardians of the Galaxy. Pick brand-new people. And make sure the casting is perfect for those roles, great charisma. And do a heist story in space or something. Do something that's not the same group of characters.
When the first ones came out, we all felt great about it. But maybe they need to take a page out of the Marvel thing and do something totally new. I mean, when Black Panther came out you were like, whoa. That's a whole new thing.
As a fan of Star Wars and Star Trek, do you have any fan theories?
I have no fan theories. I take the stories as they give them to me. I have no idea what's going on. I make movies and I don't necessarily hide things. I mean, there are plenty of jokes that you may not be able to figure out on your own. But they are private jokes for my friends around the country. But they're also jokes that play publicly. But there's a separate meaning to them, right?
The idea that Vader was Luke's father, I didn't see that coming, even though Vader is German for father. I guess I could have figured that out. But I was shocked. I don't believe for a second that George Lucas knew he was going to make Luke and Leia brother and sister. They would have never kissed. In Hollywood, we don't make money off brother and sisters kissing. And there is zero chance that he knew that. What happened is, they decided later, I'm sure, let's make them brother and sister. And they were like, ’S***, they already kissed.' And I'm sure they said, 'F*** it.' I think that's what happened. Because when I saw that, I'm like, there's no way. I mean, name another movie that's that big where a brother and sister hook up.
There's going to be a Godzilla versus King Kong movie. Who wins in a one-on-one fight?
Well, I just don't see how an ape could withstand those blasts of fire. Though I guess, if he can somehow get ahold of his tail, then it's game over.
Like with Mario and Bowser.
Because they're so strong, those apes. You know, apes have very small penises, believe it or not.
Gorillas do, yeah. Like, humans have the largest penises for primates. I'm not saying they're bigger than gorillas' from an inch-by-inch standpoint. But comparatively, when you look at a gorilla's penis. Which I don't really do. But you know.
Just enough to know this fact.
I just read. I read about gorilla penis a lot. Personally, that's my thing. You know, I think the question is really, like, what is the distance of the fireball coming out of his mouth. And can he recharge it quickly enough? You know, if the ape stays just out of range, and Godzilla shoots one, that would be his moment to pounce. He can jump, I would think. So I think King Kong wins. But he's gonna get burned.
The problem, though, is if you miss the grab of that tail, and he turns, you're cooked. But there's got to be a recharge amount of time. He's not just firing fire out the whole time. If he's firing fire out the whole time, you can't get near him. But you have to eventually, like a flamethrower runs out of propane, and you've got to refill it.
Super Troopers 2 hits digital download on July 3 and Blu-ray/DVD on July 17.