By Fred Topel | Images property of Universal Pictures
Lucky audiences got to see megastars Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen do standup comedy as part of scenes for the film Funny People. While they got kicks being entertained by A-list movie stars, the actors only reasserted their happiness to have evolved from the stage. Rogen in particular felt double nostalgia and relief.
Seth Rogen One of Funny People
“It reminded me of why I wanted to be a comedian and why I stopped doing standup comedy,” Rogen said. “Both of those things. Our jobs are way better than this. Me and Jonah [Hill] performed a few times a week. It was mind-numbing. We went to the Improv one night and we both performed and we both did pretty good and we're like ‘We're both getting the hang of this.’ And then Louis C.K. went up after us and like f***ing destroyed in a way you could not comprehend. And that's when we were like ‘That's the difference.’ That's why we're actors playing standups and that guy's a standup and if we can appear to be like that for like one-half-second, then we'll have done our jobs, but there is an overwhelming difference between us and people who actually do this for a living. I would never. I couldn't do it.”
Perhaps Rogen also feels it would be cheating at this point. “Honestly, I would be embarrassed doing it. I know [the other comedians] would be watching me and being like, ‘They're only f***ing laughing because he's in movies. I worked my ass off for this.’ You'd see the guy after us be like, ‘F***. I've been writing these jokes for months and just because these *ssholes are in a couple movies, they get laughs.’ And I felt bad about it, honestly. It's f***ed up.”
The latest Judd Apatow dramedy casts Rogen as a struggling standup who gets a chance to work with his idol, George Simmons (Adam Sandler). George is sick, so he’s self-destructing in an attempt to reflect on his life and mistakes. Rogen actually tones down his usually boisterous performance.
“I thought it was great. I was happy that Judd wanted me to play that type of guy, not the type of guy I would normally play. He was very clear that he really didn't want me to do anything the stuff that I normally do in movies. I'm not that dirty in it. I'm not that kind of aggressive. I'm pretty quiet through most of the movie. I really don't even say much in lots of the scenes that I'm in. And I had a really good time doing it. It was different for me and it was nice to be the kind of passive reactor in the scene.”
Even with Rogen’s buddies playing buddies in the film, the actors used Funny People as an opportunity to explore different relationships from their own. “If you look at me and Jason [Schwartzman] and Jonah [Hill]'s characters, I don't think any of us are anything like those characters. The dynamic in real life between the three of us could not be any more different than the dynamic in the movie between the three of us. That being said, I have, at times, had friends who were literally up for the same roles as me or vying for the exact same jobs and some subtle, underhanded play might come into the equation, be it one guy will get a script with a part that's good for another guy and maybe he'll tell him and maybe he won't. These are just kind of the things that happen throughout the years when you and all your friends have the same job, basically. So yeah, we put a lot of that into the movie and that was a lot of the stuff that came up in the conversations leading up to it.”