Hello. Guest blogger Patricia here. I know y'all are used to Tommy, and I realize that change can be jarring; so by way of introduction, I will tell you that my favorite junk food is crunchy Cheetos and my favorite quote from 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off' is "You wear too much eye makeup. My sister wears too much. People think she's a whore."
We cool? OK, then.
Recently, there's been some buzz around the office about this movie 'Beerfest' that's coming out on August 25. Every time the movie would get mentioned, someone would brighten up and go, "Oh! It's the Broken Lizard guys!" I would smile and nod, but to honest, I had no idea what they were talking about. Well, as it turns out, Broken Lizard is the collective name for comedians Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter and Erik Stolhanske. After forming a sketch comedy group at Colgate University, the guys went on to make 'Super Troopers,' a goofy parody about highway patrolmen that became a cult hit on DVD. (To give you some example of what type of movie it is, over on the Moviefone reviews page, the New York Times archly dismisses 'Super Troopers' as "bad and tasteless," whereas user mywayinca raves, "This movie so totally rox! I watch it every day and it never gets old. IT IS SOOOO GOOOD!!!!!! It is the best movie you will EVER see.")
To tout the upcoming release of the new Broken Lizard film 'Beerfest' -- a movie about two brothers who, after being humiliated in an Olympics-style beer-drinking competition by their newfound German cousins, recruit an all-star American team, train for a year, and return to Germany to open up a can of beer-drinking whoop-ass on their rivals -- Warner Brothers was hosting a pub-crawl press junket, which would take place on a Saturday at three New York City bars. Somehow or other, I found that I had volunteered to take part. But what, I wondered, was this going to entail? What angle should I take?
"Well," our senior editor mused, "you could do a Getting Drunk With Beerfest piece, which would be a combo Q&A/chronicle of getting drunk."
"So, let me get this straight," I said."You want me to get drunk ... and write about it?"
It's a tough job, but somebody's gotta do it.
Yesterday evening I showed up, drinking-buddy friend in tow, at the designated first stop, Mo's Caribbean on the Upper East Side. I was a little more familiar with the Broken Lizard guys by now, having watched both 'Beerfest' AND 'Super Troopers' the night before. (For the record, 'Beerfest' was pretty damn hilarious. I dunno, but there's something about the sight of Americans in red, white and blue track suits and Germans in lederhosen, banging on a table and screaming, "What's the name of the game? THUMPER!!!" that nearly made me choke on the 'Beerfest' beer the WB folks had so helpfully provided at the screening. Oh, and the beer was pretty good, too.) I chatted for a bit with Bill Gerber, a producer on the movie, and munched on some excellent chips and guacamole. A bus was supposed to leave at 5:30 pm to take us to the next bar, but there was some kind of delay, and before long I was on my second pint of Sam Adams. "You'd better pace yourself," my friend said. I looked at her blankly. "But I'm supposed to get drunk. It's, like, my job."
Eventually the guys from Broken Lizard showed up, looking relaxed and in good spirits, and we took our seats on the top level of a red double-decker bus -- the kind that ferry tourists around in big cities. I'd never actually been on one before. It was a beautiful night, and traveling via double-decker bus, I have to say, is kind of awesome. Surveying the city from way up high, you can pretend there's no traffic, touch the stoplights as you pass underneath them, and even spit on unsuspecting pedestrians, should you be in a vile and vindictive mood.
The Broken Lizard guys had piled into the back, so those of us in the front were treated instead to a fresh-faced actress dressed up in traditional Bavarian garb, who had evidently been given no instructions on how to entertain us other than "stand there and look pretty." She was a little more ambitious than that, though, God bless her. "Let's play beer trivia!" she yelled, a microphone in one hand and a BlackBerry in the other. "Which country has the most beer brands?" (The answer: Belgium.)
We drove crosstown to reach the Gin Mill, a fine drinking establishment on the Upper West Side. A sign on the door read "Beerfest party at 5:45 p.m." It was now just past 6:30 p.m. Whoops. So much for our carefully timed schedule. I headed for the bathroom and came out just as the Broken Lizard guys were exiting the men's room, having all apparently gone to the bathroom together. Hmm ... and I thought only girls did that. Despite my journalistic mandate, I decided not to approach them; it didn't seem appropriate. I mean, only paparazzi and stalkers accost actors when they're coming out of bathrooms, right? TMZ seems to have the paparazzi thing covered, and I'm no stalker, no matter what George Clooney's restraining order might say.
Back in the private party room, my friend handed me a Corona and a plate of buffalo wings from a buffet spread that included sliders, fries, and Mozzarella sticks. (Like I said, my job is tough.) In the back, a table had been set up with plastic cups for a demonstration of Beirut, a form of Beer Pong that doesn't involve paddles or a net. Soon, Broken Lizarders Steve Lemme and Jay Chandrasekhar were demonstrating proper technique, which involved precision Ping-Pong-ball-tossing, high-fiving, and of course, chugging. Ah, this was more like it! Wings and beer games with the Broken Lizard guys! But we hadn't been there more than 15 minutes when the clipboard-toting publicists started shepherding us determinedly to the next bar. I looked sadly at my unfinished bottle of Corona. If I was supposed to be getting drunk and getting to know the actors, I wasn't doing a particularly good job of it.
The third bar was Jake's Dilemma, just a block away. (Food and drink: desserts, fruit and pitchers of Guinness, which were pushed upon us by Warner Brothers staffers with great enthusiasm. "Drink! We've got pitchers! C'mon, who wants more Guinness?") This was where the group interview would be taking place, in a boudoir-type room with red velvet couches. I half-expected Elvira to make a guest appearance. The Broken Lizard guys crammed onto a single couch and good-naturedly weighed forth on various and sundry things, including the fact that 'Beerfest' actor and 'Saturday Night Live' cast member Will Forte could chug a beer in five seconds, that Donald Sutherland heroically quaffed 15 beers for his cameo appearance in the film, and that co-star Cloris Leachman, who plays Great Gam Gam, became so enamored of Jay Chandrasekhar's "round and plump" lips that they wound up sharing an off-screen kiss every day. (Jay: "She won an Oscar! What do you want me to say?") As roundtable interviews go, it was definitely entertaining, but I still hadn't had much of an opportunity to get to know these guys better. Just who IS Broken Lizard? I wanted more, dammit! More!
The guys were mingling with a few reporters on the sidewalk in front of the bar. Could this be my chance, at last, for a little one-on-one time? I walked up to Kevin Heffernan and introduced myself, and soon we were chatting like old pals. I met Steve Lemme, who in the movie plays a scientist who works in a lab, uh, pleasuring frogs. You heard me. Kevin and Steve obligingly posed for pictures, joked around with us, and generally gave off the impression of being great, funny, down-to-earth guys completely lacking in movie-star ego. Of course, they aren't actually movie stars yet -- right now they're more like cult-movie starlets ... starlings? -- but if Warner Brothers' big publicity push succeeds and 'Beerfest' takes off (and I happen to think it will), the Broken Lizard guys may suddenly find themselves living out a real-life version of 'Entourage,' complete with private jets and screaming groupies and appearances on Leno. But you know what? I'm pretty sure they can handle it.
I'd just started in on another beer. I was enjoying my conversation with Kevin and Steve. And then a publicist came rushing up to us, a worried expression on her face. "The bus is leaving to take reporters back to the east side now," she said. "RIGHT NOW." I sighed. As a journalist, I had failed -- I hadn't gathered any clever Q&A soundbite quotes, and I wasn't drunk. My mom would be proud, but Walter Cronkite probably wouldn't. Still, as we bid Broken Lizard good-bye and rode back to the east side atop a double-decker bus on a gorgeous night in New York City, I couldn't feel disappointed about much of anything. There are worse ways to spend your time than hoisting a few pints with the guys from Broken Lizard. All in all, it was a great night. Now if someone would just make a movie called 'Fried Chickenfest' ...
Tags: Beerfest, Broken Lizard, Super Troopers, Summer Movies