Meow Hear This: Author and Super Troopers Director Jay Chandrasekhar Looks Back on a Long Comedy Career | Arts

Meow Hear This: Author and Super Troopers Director Jay Chandrasekhar Looks Back on a Long Comedy Career


Jay Chandrasekhar in Super Troopers
  • Jay Chandrasekhar in Super Troopers
Jay Chandrasekhar stand-up
April 20–22
Goodnights Comedy Club
, Raleigh

Jay Chandrasekhar: Mustache Shenanigans

Saturday, April 22
Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh

Jay Chandrasekhar recalls the experience of directing Super Troopers—the 2001 cult comedy about a group of lazy highway patrollers prone to chugging syrup and pranking those they pull over by randomly inserting “meow” into their conversation—with his colleagues from the comedy troupe Broken Lizard.

“We had $1.2 million and took twenty-eight days to shoot it,” Chandrasekhar says. Last year, with help from a wildly successful Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign that raised almost $4.6 million, the Broken Lizard team was finally able to film Super Troopers 2. With additional studio funding, this time, Chandrasekhar reports that “we had about $13.5 million … and took twenty-seven days.”

The long, strange trip of Chandrasekhar’s career and how it’s come almost full circle is the subject of his new book, Mustache Shenanigans: Making Super Troopers and Other Adventures in Comedy (Dutton, $27), a breezy memoir that’s equal parts unflinching autobiography and matter-of-fact behind-the-scenes look at the mechanics of a show-business career. “It’s fine to be funny, but if you’re honest, in a way it works even when you’re not funny,” says Chandrasekhar, who doesn’t shy away from youthful adventures with sex and drugs in his book. “I don’t know if all of [the book is] funny, but all of it’s honest.”

Chandrasekhar’s promoting his book’s release with a stand-up comedy tour that brings him to Goodnights Comedy Club for three days, along with a brief meet-and-greet signing at Quail Ridge Books, from 12–12:30 p.m. April 22.

“It’s kind of a perfect comedy room—the energy is just right,” Chandrasekhar says of Goodnights, where he’s performed in the past with Broken Lizard. Despite his busy career, he appreciates being able to keep one foot in the stand-up comedy scene: “Stand-up, like a book, is very pure. It’s not like you have an idea and then have to ask people for millions of dollars to make it. You can have an idea and put it out there that night.”

In between the two Super Troopers films, Chandrasekhar directed several other features, including the Broken Lizard films Club Dread and Beerfest, and the Johnny Knoxville reboot of The Dukes of Hazzard, and what he estimates as “a hundred episodes of television.” He’s become one of the most prolific directors on the air, helming such acclaimed comedy and dramatic series as Arrested Development, Community, and Chuck; this past TV season alone, he’s directed everything from New Girl to Crazy Ex-Girlfriend to The Goldbergs and the recent pilot for a spinoff of that show.

Chandrasekhar credits his work in TV with helping make Super Troopers 2 an easier shoot than its predecessor. “The first one, I kept going, ‘Should we put the camera here? What about here?’” Chandrasekhar says. “The great thing about TV for me is I’ve shot so much of it. You have maybe a week to prep, and a couple days to shoot, and it’s on TV a few days later.

“I’ve shot twenty parties, fifteen love scenes, shot them every way possible. When you’ve shot that much TV, you know how you want things to look, who you want to work as the crew on them; you don’t have to rely on hunches.”

Chandrasekhar is optimistic about Super Troopers 2’s reception later this year (“It tested higher than any of our movies have ever tested”), but he reveals that North Carolina actually missed out on the chance to host the first film. “We considered filming in Charlotte, but wound up filming in New York State because the money and crew worked out better,” Chandrasekhar says. “Sorry!”

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