LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - A co-founder of the Upright Citizens Brigade and performer with Second City, Adam McKay hit his stride as a director and head writer at “Saturday Night Live” in the late 1990s.
After six seasons, McKay peeled off into features and directed the comedies “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,” “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” and “Step Brothers,” all co-written with former “SNL” colleague Will Ferrell.
One production company (Gary Sanchez Prods.), online venture (Funny or Die) and seminal viral video (“The Landlord”) later, McKay lets loose Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg in “The Other Guys,” opening August 6.
YOU GUYS IMPROVISE A BUNCH. IS THERE A SCENE THAT CAME OUT IN A REALLY FUNNY OR SURPRISING WAY?
McKay: There was one big one. When you see it, you’ll know what it is. It’s this shouting match between Wahlberg and Ferrell. It involves a tuna fighting a lion. It’ll make sense when you see it. It was totally improvised on the spot. It came from one line that Mark had, and I just started yelling out ideas to Will, and he started playing with it. It’s one of the funnier moments in the movie.
McKay: God, we were saying we think we’ve only actually ever been in one real fight, and then maybe a little smidge of another one that was almost like a disagreement. You know what it was about? We’ve never gotten in a fight over working on a movie, we’ve never gotten into a fight over writing together, hanging out, any of that stuff. It was over our production company together. We had an argument about — it’s hard to even describe — about the way the office was set up! And the only reason that we had the argument is because Will and I both are so not of that mindset. We’re not guys who think about company structure and all that junk. So both of us were new to the discussion, and that’s how we bumped into each other. Even that was only for like an hour. It was one of those dumb arguments. That’s literally the only argument we’ve ever been in.
DO YOU EVER FEEL THE CONCEPT OF FUNNY CHANGING? YOU’VE BEEN DOING THIS FOR DECADES NOW, FROM BACK AT “SNL” AND SECOND CITY. WHAT YOU SEE HAPPENING RIGHT NOW?
McKay: Oh, it constantly changes. You go from the ‘50s, which was more like Sid Caesar, Milton Berle dressed in drag, kind of silly, but also they had the Button-Down Generation, May and Nichols. And then coming into the ‘70s there was much more of that anti-authoritarian comedy. National Lampoon with “Buy this magazine or we’ll kill this puppy,” or whatever that famous cover was. That went right into “SNL,” and that carried all the way through the ‘80s. Then there was kind of a weird period in the ‘90s where it became sort of this cocky, strutty, over-the-top kind of humor, and a lot of humor about people getting over but more in a selfish way. It was almost like “Ferris Bueller” signaled that in a way. It was in the ‘70s that you were against power because it was corrupt and f—-ed up. And then in the ‘90s, you were against everything because you wanted to get over on yourself. Then there was the last ten years, which would be the more flawed lead people, whether it’s what we do with the prideful lead character who’s actually kind of ridiculous, and it was making fun of that pride that we had seen in the previous decade. Then Apatow did it more in a sexually inexperienced, immature kind of way. That still works pretty well, there’s still enough f—-ed up authority that’s interesting to play with, but there’s definitely a change a’comin.
McKay: My theory is that we’re coming off 20 to 30 years of an aggressive apolitical point of view. Like, if you say the word “politics” people’s eyes roll back and they start to get bored. That was not the case in the ‘60s and the ‘50s. So that would be my guess, you’re going to see a really precise, outraged kind of comedy. The stuff that’s going on is just so over-the-top, with the banking crisis and destroying the Gulf of Mexico, and the outrage hasn’t quite caught up with the people yet. But when it does, I think you’re going to see really virulent anti-authoritarian kind of comedy coming out.