Q&A with Andy Samberg
April 15, 2008 •
As The Daily sat down to interview Andy Samberg Tuesday night before his show, Samberg said he first had to go to the restroom. "Don't worry, I don't really have to go, I'm just gonna do, like, cocaine," he joked. He also said a "Saturday Night Live" intern pointed out an earlier Daily article noting the show did not initially sell out at Northwestern, prompting fellow cast members to poke fun at him.
The Daily: What were you like in college, and how did your college experience affect your career?
AS: What was I like in college? I was pretty normal. I had an interesting college experience in that I transferred schools halfway through. I went to Santa Cruz for two years and then I transferred to NYU for the film school, Tisch, which was rad. Both of them are super awesome. I don't know, I'm not good at explaining what I was like. I mean, I was definitely not like a super diligent student. But just like in high school and everything before that ... creative writing classes were the ones that I put all my effort into, so I guess they did inform my career because that's what I cared about and that's what I ended up doing.
The Daily: What did you hear about Northwestern before you came, and what made you want to come here?
AS: I hear that it's just the balls. Seth Meyers went here so he always talks fondly about it, and my friend Liz Cackowski, who does the Jeannie Tate show on YouTube ... a soccer mom that does a talk show out of her minivan. She went here too, so I hear about Northwestern all the time, almost to the point of nausea. But clearly people really like it. So far, I'm enjoying it tremendously.
The Daily: What is being on SNL like? What's it like behind the scenes?
AS: It's amazing. It was my dream to be on SNL since I was like eight, so working there, I constantly feel like I'm going to wake up, 'cause I actually had like literal dreams of working there before I ever thought that I could audition or anything. But it also definitely can be stressful and it's a super intense schedule. I get colds a lot ... a lot of smoothies being hoarded around there.
The Daily: How do you get ideas for your digital shorts?
AS: All kinds of ways. Sometimes I'll think of something in the shower three weeks before the show ... or sometimes it's literally Friday afternoon and the show is the next day and we have to have a digital short, so we just sit down and lock our office door and try to come up with something. And sometimes it goes even later than that, as happened this past week. I don't know if you guys saw the last digital short ... (Gnarls Barkley) actually did cancel. They're our friends, so it's no hard feelings, but we had a whole 'nother idea, that by the way I thought of like two hours previous to that, so it was still cutting it pretty (expletive) close. We were all set up and ready to shoot and I was in that ridiculous wig and outfit and then they called and were like, we're not coming.
The Daily: What advice would you have for NU students that want to break into the same kind of career you have?
AS: Just write and shoot and perform. I would say the first 50 things I did were terrible. Not to say that everything we do now is great, but I look back at stuff that I did as recently as a few years ago and I feel a little embarrassed 'cause you learn so much so fast when you're just working a lot. And you kind of work the kinks out and sort of get a lot of bad ideas out of your system. I think with comedy especially you have to figure out what your moves are, and figure out what does work for you and what doesn't. I think the more you do it the more you develop your own style and sort of graduate from just emulating the people you look up to. But especially with the Internet now, if you feel like you have sketch ideas, shoot them. If they're good, they can catch on. It doesn't matter who you are or where you are.
The Daily: How do you feel that the Internet has affected your career?
AS: It's interesting because I feel like the press is kind of saying that we got big on the Internet and then got SNL, but we were on the Internet for like four years. We got SNL from a recommendation from writing on the MTV Movie Awards. We made something that aired on SNL on national television and then it was all over the Internet. So it took being on a network television show to really get that going. That being said, the Internet has affected us hugely, because "Lazy Sunday" just happened to be the clip that rode the YouTube wave. It was really just fortunate. That was the clip that everyone was like, "What's this YouTube?" 'cause someone forwarded it to them, and then all of the sudden they made like a hundred billion dollars. It was very fortunate for us, 'cause we got tons of press for it, and it raised our profile on the show and allowed us to make "Hot Rod" pretty much. Now there's a demand for the digital shorts, which is awesome, 'cause it gives us a little niche there.
The Daily: "Lazy Sunday" and "Dick in a Box" are obviously the things that you're the most well known for. When you made those, did you have some idea of how successful they'd be?
AS: No. "Lazy Sunday" especially. That was the third digital short we shot in our first season, so we were like, "God, I hope it doesn't get cut." 'Cause the one we'd made the week before did get cut. And then it just kinda got out of control. But also it was surprising to us because we had been doing stuff really similar to "Lazy Sunday" on our Web site for three or four years. If people go to thelonelyisland.com, and watch like Stork Patrol or Ka-Blamo or any of those things, it's the same joke. But it was cool for us to get known for doing exactly what we had been doing. It felt really satisfying.
The Daily: We heard rumors that some of the Northwestern frats were going to invite you to hang out after your performance. Did they, and are you going to take them up on that offer?
AS: I have not been invited yet. I'll think about it, probably not. I don't feel very well. Still kind of recovering from Saturday. Diddy was at the show, so ... I didn't meet him or anything.