Nick Offerman and Zach Galifianakis hit comedy gold in 'Somebody Up There Likes Me' Q&A
Note: Tribeca Film has just added an additional week-long run of the film in Los Angeles beginning on March 22 at the Sundance Sunset Cinema (8000 Sunset Blvd).
Nick Offerman can add “theater usher” to his official resume.
The heavily-mustached “Parks and Recreation” star literally held the door for me as I stepped into a screening of his latest film - writer/director Bob Byington’s indie comedy “Somebody Up There Likes Me” - at the Silent Movie Theater on L.A.’s Fairfax Avenue yesterday evening. Dressed casually in a beanie, jeans and cowboy boots, Offerman was on hand for a post-screening Q&A with special guest moderator Zach Galifianakis (previous moderators included Offerman’s “P&R” co-star/future “Guardians of the Galaxy” leading man Chris Pratt and “Bored to Death” star Jason Schwartzman). The event was just one stop on the actor's six-city screening tour of the film that's scheduled to hit cities including Chicago, San Francisco and New York (Austin hosted the premiere of the film at last year's SXSW).
"Somebody," Byington’s fifth full-length feature, is a quirky, deadpan black comedy with a very specific (read: offbeat) point-of-view that I suspect will delight the Austin-based director’s preexisting fanbase (though this is admittedly the first film of his that I’ve seen). Centering on an emotionless slacker named Max Youngman (Keith Poulson) and his one and only friend/sometime-coworker Sal (Offerman) as they virtually float through life (neither of these men seems to care about much of anything at all, an intentional conceit on Byington’s part)m the film also stars indie darling Jess Weixler (“Teeth,” “Peter and Vandy”), Stephanie Hunt (“Californication,” “Friday Night Lights”), Marshall Bell (“Twins,” “Starship Troopers”) and Offerman’s real-life wife, former “Will & Grace” wisecracker Megan Mullally. Oh, there’s also a magical suitcase that emits a strange sparkly glow whenever it’s opened, though Byington - instead of explaining the receptacle's mysterious origins - instead urges the audience to use their own imaginations in accounting for its seemingly supernatural qualities.
Following the screening, which was received very warmly by the sold out crowd, Offerman and Galifianakis took the stage to talk about the film, which ranks as Offerman’s third feature with Byington following 2008’s “RSO: Registered Sex Offender” and 2009’s “Harmony and Me.” Aside from their penchant for sporting abundant quantities of facial hair, Offerman and Galifianakis boast a simpatico comedic sensibility that made the Q&A a crowd-pleasing and wonderfully idiosyncratic affair, with the assembled audience eating up every last word of the pair’s pseudo-strained onstage conversation. Following are the night's 15 biggest highlights.
1) On director Bob Byington’s quirky sense of humor
Nick Offerman: “I love this movie. It has very beautiful women in it, and also some guys. And I'm a big fan of the writer/director. I've worked with him a few times before. I've known him for 15 years. And I think he has a really smart sense of humor, with which he protects his heart from the world.”
Zack Galifianakis: “Woah.”
2) On awkwardly entering movie scenes at the tail end of a conversation
Galifianakis (riffing on a scene from the movie): “I love...walking into conversations where it's just ending...like when a waiter comes up and I'm with somebody else, I'll always end the conversation so it's awkward around the waiter. 'So yeah, my sister and I are platonic now [to imaginary waiter] I'll have the uh...'”
Offerman: “I like to do the beginning of scenes, when you're rolling into a scene eight times, and you're leaving a table of two ladies: 'Yeah, just rub some butter on it.'”
Galifianakis: “I once was in a bank with my friend and he was at a teller, and...you know, those teller drive-thru things. They have a microphone so they can hear you with the glass. And he had hooked up with a woman the night before who was not too...um...clean. And he just said to me in the car 'yeah, I can still smell her pussy.' And the teller in the bank heard it. [Laughter] Aaand that's how I met my wife.”
3) On the casting process
Offerman: “Keith [Poulson], the lead, sort of the best story, he was a friend of the lead two movies ago. They worked in a video store together. And he tagged along and ended up holding the boom for this movie 'R.S.O.: Registered Sex Offender.' And he was very charming, and we all loved him. He's obviously annoyingly winning and cute. And so then the second movie he came back to hold the boom and Bob said...he was having trouble with a scene, and he said, 'Keith, sit in that chair.' And he just put him in the movie, literally took the boom away from him.
“Bob likes to say that his character and his performance are the reason that movie works. It's called 'Harmony and Me.' And there are actually many reasons it works, it's very good. So then Bob wrote these two parts for me and Keith because we have a rapport that he likes in dealing with his language. And Jess Weixler we were very lucky to get. She's sort of a darling of indie movies, and incredibly talented and adorable. The only person I think who had to audition was my wife Megan. We had a lot of trouble getting her to just hit the right notes.”
Galifianakis: “How did that play at home?”
Offerman: “It was tense. It was a tense six or seven months. Stephanie Hunt, Bob found her in Austin, and she's something like 23 years old. She's something like 23 years old, she's just gonna explode into superstardom. She's so beautiful and talented.”
Galifianakis: “Oh, it must be fucking nice to be pretty in Austin. Be a fucking boom operator and end up in a goddamn movie. I guess I shouldn't have done those 41,000 open mics. Should've got into the boom operating world...fuck. I'm driving to Burbank to audition for some shit-com.”
Offerman: “Sound department's the way to do it.”