If you got laughter abs from watching Hot Rod, unironically enjoyed This Is Us, or have an affinity for turtles and/or Adam Levine, we are urging you spelunk out of your basement and into a movie theater to watch Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping with a giant box of raisinets.
The Lonely Island dudes have DONE IT AGAIN—this time, in a mockumentary about a doofy popstar (Conner 4 Real, played by Andy Samberg) whose two best friends get pushed to the sidelines the more famous he gets. The dialogue is so finely tuned that it makes fun of Taylor Swift without *actually* making fun of Taylor Swift. That is a delicate art, my friends.
So, when the Popstar press tour rolled around, we trekked to a vertigo-inducing floor of a hotel, five-pound tape recorder in hand, to have a chat with Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Taccone.
Now, MIND YOU: Pop is rated R for a partymix of reasons, so do what you can to avoid seeing it with anyone that could make you uncomfortable, like your parents, or the barista who never fills your cup completely even though you tell him you really don’t need room for milk, thank you. As such, we made the executive decision to ask the trio as many existential questions as we could in between mouthfuls of crudités, leaving the movie material up to your own eyeballs and Reddit forums. Luckily for everyone, they are genuinely nice people and not at all robots, and their answers WILL convince you to chassé over to the theater at daybreak on June 3rd.
Let’s get to it!
You met a long, long time ago. What were you like in high school? What table did you sit at at lunch?
Jorma: We didn’t have tables for lunch….
Andy: Berkeley High School was a strange high school. The varsity football quarterback would be made fun of for being too cliché in Berkeley.
Jorma: He was our friend’s younger brother who went on to Dartmouth and his friends made fun of him relentlessly.
Andy: They were like, “Yeahhhh quarterback, way to be, quarterback,” whereas at any other school he would be king of the school. So there were a lot of multiple genre people… Like, I’d hang out in the park with the stone-y crowd, but also I was on the soccer team, and also we were into graffiti and hip hop, and also reggae and dance hall, and also classic rock, and also skating.
What were you not a part of?!
Andy: We weren’t into lacrosse.
Jorma: But we were friends with those guys!
Andy: But MOST kids at Berkeley High are floaters. Everyone’s kinda into everything.
Sounds like a utopia.
Andy: It’s kinda?—
Jorma: It’s not a utopia.
Akiva: It’s more like a prison?
Andy: Well for me it was a utopia!
Jorma: There was definitely tension between people like there is in every high school, but clichés didn’t quite exist in the same way. Wasn’t like an ’80s movie where the jocks pick on the nerds.
Andy: It was more like a mid-’90s movie.
What was the worst required book you had to read there?
Andy: I was NOT into The Merchant of Venice. That one bummed me out.
Jorma: Because of the anti-Semitism?
Andy: Not even because of that, it was more just boring. I was bored by the story.
Akiva: I wasn’t ready to read Kerouac On the Road, I will say. I was a little bit bored by it.
Jorma: Whereas now it’s dog-eared and in your back pocket.
Akiva: *laughs* Yep, I got the rolled up paperback—No but I actually never went back to see if I’d like it as an adult.
Andy: I didn’t get to read that in high school! That’s cool!
Akiva: I was trying to think it was cool because I wanted to think it was cool. And then just being like, it was kind of the same thing over and over and they’re just driving without seatbelts and meeting people and picking them up and driving on, and I was like… nothing is happening and I don’t care.
Jorma: That’s like reading Hemingway, where they’re just getting drunk in the sun in Spain.
Andy: You don’t like journey stories. You like hard plot points. That’s why you don’t like Lord of the Rings.
Akiva: You think Kerouac’s On the Road is similar to Lord of the Rings?!
Andy: Yeah, it’s kind of meandering. If you like the tone, you love it all.
Akiva: I’d like to read both at the same time and see if you’re right.
Jorma: I went to an all-boys school for two years of high school, and it was such a jock-y high school that a lot of the coaches would end up teaches classes as well. So I had an English class where we read Great Expectations—and our football coach was teaching the class like “Ya know, PIP and MISS HAVISHAM, it’s a lot like THE RAIDERS!”—he’d compare the lit to football. Like, HOW is this related to pregame season? He’d really try to use what he knew to contextualize it.
That sounds… awful?
Andy: It ruined the book for you, didn’t it.
Jorma: Nah, it kinda made it better.
Jorma: What ruined it was that it was just a boring f****** book!
Another question about high school: Flirting advice?
Andy: BE YOURSELF. Don’t try any mind games. That’s it. [all nod]
Beautiful. What are your geekiest qualities?
Jorma: None of our geekiness is a secret.
Andy: I guess it’s “considered” geeky but I love reading science fiction novels.
Oh, sweet. Which ones?
Andy: The last one I read that I loved was the Hyperion series. It was pretty fantastic.
Jorma: See I didn’t even know that. I was pretty into Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Loved it.
Akiva: I mean, everything I do is pretty geeky.
Andy: For Akiva, it’s tech stuff.
Jorma: He’s our IT guy.
Akiva: I don’t get down with the sci-fi novels.
Andy: Or novels.
Jorma: We don’t have time; we’re workin’!
Akiva: I will read a book if it’s put in front of me. I’ll read it pretty quick.
Andy: You read a lot more than me generally, though. You read a lot more news. [Turns to me] I just want to make it clear to you that I really like Akiva.
Don’t worry, that’s the only vibe I’m getting. Real quick: favorite Monty Python sketch?
Akiva: I’m gonna go with the first one that made me aware of them: The lumberjack one. It was on PBS, and I flipped to it randomly, and I remember my dad and I watching it and laughing but not realizing it was a comedy show. I had no context for it and turned to my dad and said, “What. Is. This.” and he went, “It’s a thing called Monty Python!” And from there I tried to find anything I could of theirs.
Jorma: Mine was the coal miner. The kid who comes back from college and wants to become a coal miner but he’s in a family of actors, and he’s really upset because he JUST wants to be a coal miner. He’s railing against his dad because his dad just wants him to go to gala luncheons.
Andy: That was a good one. Mine’s not a sketch from the show, but it was the first thing I saw of theirs also: it was the scene in Holy Grail with the knight. Keeps getting his arms cut off.
‘It’s just a flesh wound!’
Andy: Yep. It was pretty life changing for me.
Jorma, your character who DJs for Conner has an iPod, 60 gigs ‘with room for audiobooks.’ You hit play in the movie and it started playing Harry Potter?
Jorma: Hahaha, yeah, well, a knockoff of Harry Potter. Basically fanfiction.
So you’re Harry Potter fans?
Andy: We went to Harry Potter World at Universal Studios recently.
Whaaat? I’m so jealous.
Andy: It was pretty dope. We had wands choose us.
What wands did you get?!
Akiva: Mine was birch with a phoenix feather.
Jorma: We all had phoenix feathers. We shared that as a trait.
Akiva: Well, it was taken from the same phoenix.
Andy: They do a good job there.
So what’s your boggart?
Jorma: [whispers] Our movie bombs…
Andy: I have to say, after going on the Harry Potter world ride, it would be Dementors.
Akiva: I might go with giant arachnids.
Andy: Those were also a part of it, and they were also super scary.
[To Akiva] So you are Ron Weasley.
Jorma: Yes, he’s our resident Ron Weasley.
Then who’s Harry and who’s Hermione?
Jorma: I’m Hermione. Well, me and Andy are fighting to see who’s Hermione.
Well Hermione is the best, obviously.
Andy: He’s Hermione.
Jorma: Nah, maybe I’m Ron. ‘Cuz I’m loyal. And he [Andy]’s Harry. ‘Cuz he’s, like, scarred.
Andy: ‘Cuz everyone talks about me and no one can understand why.
*all crack up*
Andy: Like, “He seems kinda regular, I guess he’s special? Let’s go with it.”
Jorma: He defeated the devil!
I want to ask you guys about Party Over Here, which is so great! Did you know from the beginning that this was gonna be an all-female sketch comedy show?
Andy: It wasn’t initially gonna be that. Fox came to us and said we have this time slot and we want some kind of a sketch or comedy or talk show kind of thing, and we had a bunch of performance nights with a bunch of comedians we really liked that the head of our company put together. And we just felt like those three women were the right fit. And they’d done stuff together before that we were told to watch, so we knew they knew each other and had rapport, so we just said “that’s the show!”
Akiva: They were the best people for the job.
Andy: We were definitely excited by the idea of it being a female cast, but also the point of it not being an all-female cast and just a good show.
Jorma: Yeah, it wasn’t meant to be “the GIRL show!” Just a funny sketch show where the people happen to be women.
Andy: We love that show. It’s really cool to be a part of it.
Well thank you for it. There’s a lot of Snapchat in the movie, a lot of social media.
Jorma: Are you on Snapchat???
I AM on Snapchat.
Jorma: Yeah by the way, everyone your age is.
I’m 40. Do YOU have Snapchat?
Jorma: Ha! As a group we do.
Andy: TLIboys. We’re PRET-TY active.
What’s the dumbest filter?
Jorma: There are SO MANY wonderful dumb filters. I kind of like the one that has the little crown of flowers.
That one makes you beautiful, though.
Andy: Yeah that’s not dumb. That’s glam.
Akiva: Well the barfing a rainbow one isn’t really dumb, but it’s kinda dumb. You know which one I didn’t like? I’ll go on record. The one that turned your face into a big tomato and when you opened your mouth a bunch of tomato slices came out.
Jorma: You didn’t like that one? I liked that one!
It was kinda gross.
Akiva: Yeah it was like you’re barfing but they’re perfect tomato slices and you’re all red and puffy.
Andy: It was very Willy Wonka. It kinda spooks me.
Akiva: I also don’t like the horror ones.
I don’t either.
Andy: They’re too scary.
Akiva: No thank you.
Jorma: We’re not horror guys. We’re too frightened.
Akiva: Have you seen the new update today?
No! I haven’t been on today, now that I think about it.
Akiva: You’re way behind! I know about these things. I’m kind of a millennial.
Andy: Akiva is the millennial of The Lonely Island.
Jorma: The resident millennial.
Father John Misty hates the dog one.
Andy: Everyone loves the dog one! Father John Misty is just being ~contrary.~
Am I allowed to take a picture of you?
Andy: Sure! Get in here! Let’s, like, stand, so there’s not all this food in the foreground.
I wasn’t kidding about the mounds of crudités. Are ya’ll going to see this gem of a movie?