Broken Lizard's Steve Lemme Talks Real Life Super Troopers, Michael Clarke Duncan, and Mustache Rides
Just like Cheech Marin's mustache or The Dude's bathrobe, there are some signature movie moments that are instantly recognizable. For comedy troupe and filmmakers Broken Lizard, their indelible mark on cinema will forever be their twisted views on the things state troopers do when no one's watching, or the exact moment to turn a glass boot during a chugging contest.
Stoner film aficionados everywhere will recognize two of the troupe's five members, Steve Lemme and Kevin Heffernan, as Mac and Farva from breakout hit Super Troopers, or as Finkelstein and Landfill from Beerfest. (Or, let's be honest, both.) Lemme and Heffernan will bless the stage of the Miami Improv with five shows this week to support their soon to be released comedy DVD Fat Man & Little Boy. They'll bring their Broken Lizard brand of comedy to the Miami Improv stage, along with indulging all the Super Troopers, Beerfest, Club Dread, and Slammin' Salmon fans with stories about their cult comedy classics.
Cultist contacted Steve Lemme for a couple Super Troopers stories of our own -- and we also found out how Heffernan got the nickname "Tuna Can."
Cultist: Do cops or stoners have funnier things to say to you about Super Troopers?
Steve Lemme: Amazingly, it's the cops, because they'll tell us stories about playing the same games that we play in Super Troopers. I've heard from several cops that they've played the meow game and the repeater. One time, a cop played a game with me before knowing who I was: he'd pulled me over and on his approach to my car I could see him in my side mirror using his cell phone to film himself disco dancing as he walked -- when he got to the window and recognized me he almost lost his mind.
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Another time, Kevin and I were doing a show in Missouri and there was a cop convention happening at our hotel. I was walking back to my room after the show and a bunch of cops recognized me and made me party with them. I can say there is nothing more surreal than being driven to a 7-Eleven for cigarettes by a drunk cop in his police cruiser.
It also has its perks -- I've been let out of a 120mph speeding ticket. We've been invited to shoot machine guns with cops. We get "get out of jail free" cards in every town we go to. The stoners really only want to know if we're going to make Potfest.
Since you have Argentine ancestry, are you planning on hitting up some Argentinian all-you-can-eat steakhouses while you're in Miami?
I'll actually probably focus on getting into some ropa vieja and pastelitas while I'm here. Why not go Cuban? My wife is half-Cuban and from Miami so she knows the good places.
You'll be appearing with Kevin Heffernan, another Broken Lizard member, at the Miami Improv. Any embarrassing stories about him you could tell us?
Embarrassing stories about Kevin Heffernan? His nickname is "Queen." We call him that because in college, the house we lived in had gang showers. Kevin had this royal blue towel. He was a bit self-conscious about his weight so he would wear it above his nipples. His hair was kind of long and curled up at the sides. With the royal blue towel up by his boobs and the curly brown hair, he looked like the Queen of England. Hence, "Queen."
We also call his dick the "tuna can" because it's wider than it is long.
He loves soup.
He has clammy hands.
I've heard him fart in his sleep and then giggle in his sleep.
One July 4th, the Yankees old timers game was on TV. It was Don Mattingly's first time back in a Yankee uniform. He was being announced in the lineup. I looked over at Kevin and he was crying. Without me saying a word, Kevin yelled at me like this: "It's the one day a year I'm allowed to cry!"
Do you prefer doing live comedy or filming movies?
Film and live comedy are different beasts. Film is great because you're making a freaking movie. In the end, you have a great piece of work that people all over the world will watch. There's a real accomplishment. And they're fun to work on. The problem is, they are very stressful and you live and die by your decisions. Live comedy is thrilling right in the moment. You are face to face with your fans or maybe non-fans and you still have to give them something good. There is truly nothing that compares to trying out a new routine; it can go great or it can bomb -- either is going to have a profound effect on you as a performer. Um... but making movies rocks.
You appeared beside Michael Clarke Duncan in The Slammin' Salmon. Any particular fond memories of him you'd like to share?
Big Mike was awesome. The best part about working with him was not knowing he was going to crush the comedy as hard as he did. The part we'd written was challenging and he came in and took it to another level. I know he was excellent in The Green Mile but I honestly believe his best piece of work after that may have been in The Slammin' Salmon. I'm not kidding. He's that fantastic.
On a funnier note, before we started shooting, I was in the wardrobe trailer with Kevin, who directed the movie. One of the alligator skin suits that Big Mike wears in the movie was hanging up. We decided I'd better put it on to see how much bigger than me he was. I got it on and it was like a 5-year old wearing his dad's clothes.
He also liked to mess with people's heads. He used to play a game called "Can You Defend Yourself?" The game was simple. He'd pretend he was mad at you and then pretend he was going to kick your ass. He played the joke on everyone. Once you'd gotten through it it was awesome to see him do it to someone else.
Which other member of the Broken Lizard troupe is your favorite? We won't tell. Promise.
Who do I like in Broken Lizard besides Heffernan? I like Steve Lemme.
Why would Jay Chandrasekhar ever shave the mustache he sported in Super Troopers? It was magnificent.
Um... do you want a mustache ride?
Catch Steve Lemme and Kevin Heffernan on the Miami Improv stage nightly, Thursday, September 27 through Saturday, September 29. Tickets cost $20. Visit miamiimprov.com.
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