The Lonely Island are as cool, laid back, self-deprecating, and self-aware as you were hoping they'd be. The troupe, formed by three Berkeley pals (one of whom may be SNL's most important alum of the last 10 years) have been making fun of themselves in lyrical form with genitals in boxes and loud proclamations of being seaborne. Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Taccone are dropping their most recent project, The Wack Album, tomorrow and their list of guest emcees are impressive: Lady Gaga, Hugh Jackman, Kendrick Lamar, Justin Timberlake, and Solange all swing by — plus Samberg's fellow SNL pal Kristen Wiig.
The guys don't shy away from depicting controversial topics, or ones that embrace and then mock traditionally macho depictions of masculinity. Yet, due to their strong Berkeley upbringing and their association with rad, outspoken ladies, the dudes work hard to make sure they are poking fun at nobody but themselves. Which they do...with aplomb, we might add.
Okay guys, first thing's first: Robyn. How did you get her to do this?
Samberg: “I met Robyn when she was on SNL a couple season ago. Her and her boyfriend were really sweet, and we hung out with each other at the after party the whole night. Our small experience together was enough for us to send her this song and ask if she’d join.”
Did Robyn have a good sense of humor about it?
Schaffer: “Yeah! She’s great. She’s as cool as you want her to be.”
Samberg: “Our expectations were high and I think we exceeded.”
Schaffer: “We shot a real video, too. That video was a real dance rehearsal for the video. She’s actually in it.”
That dance is a really good dance. There’s a lot of good moves. Are you guys in it?
Schaffer: "We’re not those bag head guys. Those were real dancers. We’re in the forthcoming video. But we do have moves."
Samberg: "Yeah, we got some moves."
Are they good moves?
Schaffer: "They’re bad moves. Very bad moves."
Samberg: "Akiva has moves like Jagger. I’ve got all the right moves. Jorma has night moves.”
We wrote about "Spring Break", which is hilarious, people commented and asked why you guys went "gay" or made "fun of gays." Our take is that, here are these people being so hedonistic and crazy, and here’s something that’s viewed as hedonistic and crazy by the status quo but is really romantic and natural. It was a hilarious juxtaposition. What’s the deal?
Schaffer: "A lot of our songs are making fun of being macho and for some reason, the thing that macho guys are most afraid of is homosexuality. It’s a great juxtaposition in general of machoness in pop and rap — that’s why we go there. Our intention is not gay focused; the joke is always on being homophobic."
Taccone: "We’ve known each other since junior high school, and one of our favorite jokes is to make homophobic people uncomfortable."
Schaffer: "It’s the juxtaposition of something that’s hedonistic with something that’s beautiful. There’s longevity and there’s romance."
Samberg: "If you take the gay out of "Spring Break" and just make it hetero-normative, the joke is still there to us. It’s these guys who are partying and doing all this spring break stuff, but they secretly crave intimacy and fidelity. Also, what you said is true — pointing out and asking what they’re so afraid of. There’s worse things out there than..."
Taccone: "Eternal love."
Schaffer: "While we were shooting the video we kept checking out people making sure they knew it’s not a joke."
Samberg: "I read a few things with people saying, 'Oh, you guys are kissing for a laugh.' I thought, 'If you thought that the joke of this was guys kissing, than you missed the point.' There’s nothing funny about gay marriage."
Photo: Courtesy of F. Scott Schafer
Andy, one of our favorite moments is when you were at the Spike Awards and you showed up wearing a Now shirt...
Samberg: "Oh yeah, the Guys Choice Awards. I was doing press for something and they wanted me to go there, and I was like, 'well, if we’re going…'”
Did you guys set out to make fun of the anti-feminists?
Schaffer: "I think feminism is a word we didn’t know existed until we left Berkeley. At Berkeley it was the norm. We were raised by (makes air quotes) feminists."
Samberg: "I don’t think guys are allowed to be feminists. I think they’d have a problem with that. We can be sympathetic to the cause."
Taccone: "We certainly were raised in an environment where equal rights for men and women was not even a thought."
Which is interesting because you guys are making jam heavy rap albums. Most albums with bangin’ production values aren’t necessarily the most female-friendly. Is that was attracted you to it?
Schaffer: "I don’t think it’s even a conscious thing."
Taccone: "That’s just probably the comedy. We take the opposite of what people would expect to say and try to make it sound as sincere. 'Spring Break' was coming from the comedy first."
Samberg: "We were conscious of being respectful. We absolutely support gay marriage, but it wasn’t like 'We need to do something about that!' It was about the comedy. In the end we look at what we have."
Schaffer: "In retrospect we can be proud that it is who we are and what we support."
Samberg: "And all the overt lady stuff is pointing out the ridiculousness in rap songs that are about that stuff. It’s making fun of ourselves, saying (in a geeky voice) 'Yeah! We also like to...f**k hoes...?'”
Last question, what’s your favorite YouTube video?
Taccone: "There is a video called 'Take It To The Limit' by Centory. Check it out."
We did. See it for yourself, here.
Photo: Courtesy of F. Scott Schafer