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FOG! Chats With Broken Lizard About Their New Film, ‘Quasi’!

FOG!’s Kristen Halbert and the members of Broken Lizard

Broken Lizard, the famed comedy troupe of Super Troopers, Beerfest, and Tacoma FD fame, spoke with Forces of Geek about their new film Quasi. Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, Erik Stolhanske and Jay Chandrasekhar shared their feelings on character development, crossover mediums, and what their fans should always look for in their films.

While Broken Lizard is known for their over-the-top original comedy pieces, this is their first foray into a [incredibly loose] historical retelling.

Why use such a classic tale as a jumping-off point?

Well…they didn’t. Kevin Heffernan noted that the bones for this were already almost 20 years old, built off of a character Steve Lemme used to do. “To put it in context, I worked at a record store and he was the head of the jazz & blues department. He spoke out of the side of his mouth–” Here Lemme switches into character and screws up his mouth, adding a raspy tone and far-off gaze. “And he would talk about how lonely it was and how playing the saxophone was the loneliest instrument of all the instruments. How he would sit alone at the windowsill on the hot, sweaty, bluesy nights playing a song for a  woman he knew was out there, but hadn’t met yet.”

Everyone starts snickering while Lemme continues, “We would riff on this character, ‘oh what a great guy, how can we make him a bigger loser’? We were like, let’s make him a hunchback in medieval France. Then he winds up a puppet in this game, a power struggle between the pope and a king. Then ‘how can we make him a bigger loser’ and we made him a virgin on top of that.

We thought it was a good jumping-off point for a character like that and the movie just kind of unfolded after that.” There’s a quick insert of a PSA about it being okay to be a virgin, as none of them seem able to let a chance for a joke sit on the table.

Erik Stolhanske made a crack earlier that they chose Quasimodo because “We felt historically it wasn’t represented truthfully…“ that devolved into giggles before he could expound.

With regard to inspiration, they mentioned homages not to classic French literature, but to a more recent group of writers.

“We were a sketch comedy group when we were in college,” Lemme shared. “Us putting on wigs, funny costumes — obviously we were influenced by Monty Python, they played multiple roles. This was kind of a nod to them. It’s completely different than anything we’ve done before which is always refreshing and awesome as a storyteller.”

All of the members have some kind of background in improv, live theater, stand-up, or all three, honed on stage with immediate feedback. Quasi brings big stage energy and heavy doses of theatricality, so is the door open for a live-action adaptation?

“The Broadway adaptation of Quasi? That would be kind of fun…” says Heffernan.

You can see the gears turning in all of their heads as they start gaming it out. Stolhanske notes a one-act play that they put on for a Montreal comedy festival and their sincere love of being on a stage in front of people, while Lemme points out the possible difficulty of figuring out how to play multiple roles on stage when the characters are directly interacting with each other, leading to several immediate comments about branching out into puppets (stay tuned, I suppose!)

No matter the source material, there is a particular flavor to all Broken Lizard productions.

We asked what longtime fans should continue to expect to see in Quasi, and Heffernan was first to jump in. “There’s a lot of quotable quotables,” he said. “We work on our dialogue and it has a certain rhythm to it. It seems to lend itself well to people throwing those quotes back at you which we get when we’re walking down the street, and this movie has a lot of those lines.”

Paul Soter closed it out with their philosophy on bringing their live theater style to the screen. “With any movie that we do, there’s a feeling that every scene should feel like a sketch. Even though this is a different style, a different tone, we tried to apply that same Broken Lizard concept that everything has its own kind of backbone.”

Quasi is now streaming on Hulu
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