Comedy trio The Lonely Island, aka Jorma Taccone, Akiva Schaffer, and Andy Samberg, have really hit their stride in the last few years. Direct a feature, drop an album, star on a hit sitcom — there isn’t much these talented guys can’t do. With the boys stopping by Comedy Bang! Bang! this week to promote their new comedy blockbuster PopStar: Never Stop Never Stopping, we thought it was high time to expose their darkest secrets. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any, so here are a few fun facts instead.
10. The Boys Met In Junior High.
The three members of The Lonely Island met back in the early ’90s, at Willard Junior High School in Berkeley, California. Akiva and Jorma became friends first, and eventually let Andy, a year younger, into their crew. The three bonded over their mutual love of skateboarding, before discovering comedy.
9. Chelsea Peretti was there too.
Something must have been in the water in 1990s Berkeley, because these weren’t the only three comedy heavyweights to come out of it. In fact, Andy knew future Brooklyn Nine-Nine costar Chelsea Peretti long before he’d met his Lonely Island cohorts. The two went to elementary school together, and Chelsea has admitted she had a huge crush on the homeroom heartthrob. She used to call his house over and over again, hanging up as soon as someone picked up.
8. Kiefer Sutherland once went all “24” on them.
In their early twenties, The Lonely Island boys all decamped to Los Angeles, where they started making short comedy videos for fun. One of these shorts — a video called “White Power” in which the boys get addicted to tooth whitening paste — almost came off the rails thanks to a certain TV super spy. While shooting a staged fight on the side of the road, a passerby hopped out of his car and tried to break up the fisticuffs. That stranger turned out to be Jack Bauer himself, Kiefer Sutherland.
7. They can thank Dan Harmon for their first viral success.
While the boys were making videos together in the early ’00s, they didn’t have much of an audience. The Internet was still more of an information superhighway than a hub of cat videos and low rent comedy skits. Thankfully, future Community impresario Dan Harmon had just founded a short film festival, which would evolve to become the now famous Channel 101. Each week, aspiring filmmakers could show their shorts, and if the audience liked them, they would vote for another installment to be made. The boys hit it big with their second series, a Malibu-set parody of The O.C. called The ‘Bu, which would eventually help them secure representation.
6. Akiva directed a video for Wilmer Valderrama.
Of the three members of The Lonely Island, Akiva Schaffer operates the most behind the scenes. A frequent director of the boys’ work, he’s also branched out to helm a variety of other projects, like the big budget comedy The Watch. He also directed a number of music videos for bands like We Are Scientists and Eagles of Death Metal, and, yes, even one for That ’70s Show alum Wilmer Valderrama and his musical persona Eduardo Fresco.
5. They made an “awesome” pilot before landing on SNL.
The boys had their ups and downs before making their way to Saturday Night Live. Big breaks came and went, including their first real shot at stardom. Having made a name for themselves with their online shorts, they were hired to shoot a pilot called Awesometown. A surreal mix of the music spoofs and anti-comedy that would come to define their style, the pilot was genuinely funny, but went nowhere. In fact, Fox, MTV and Comedy Central all passed on it, leading the boys to question whether their style could translate to a larger audience.
4. They owe Jimmy Fallon big time.
It would take Jimmy Fallon to introduce them to the big time. With their pilot going nowhere, the LI guys were hired to write jokes for the future Tonight Show host, who was hosting the 2005 MTV Movie Awards. Impressed with their comedy chops, he recommended them to SNL guru Lorne Michaels. The boys auditioned soon afterwards, with Samberg impersonating a 1980s jogger commenting on the recession. (He later did the character on the show.) Andy was hired as a Featured Player, while Jorma and Akiva were brought on as writers for the 2005/06 seasons. The three struggled at first, getting only a couple sketches on the air. Both got them a little notice, but nothing compared to their next sketch, which would change their lives, the show and the Internet forever.
3. They saved YouTube.
In 2005, “Lazy Sunday,” The Lonely Island’s first SNL digital short, dropped like an atomic bomb and became an overnight sensation. T-shirts were made, radio stations started playing the now hit song, and a fledging website called YouTube became THE place for people to check it out. NBC, not yet understanding the power of the Internet, fought like hell to keep the sketch off the site, but not before the world realized what a viral video was. YouTube would soon become a billion dollar company and The Lonely Island would become superstars.
2. Jorma’s brother is a rock star.
Jorma Taccone has built quite a career outside of The Lonely Island, co-writing MacGruber and guest starring on shows like The League, Parks and Recreation and Girls. But he’s not the only talent in the family. His brother, Asa Taccone, is the lead singer of the indie rock band Electric Guest. The band has made appearances on Late Show with David LettermanLate Night with Jimmy Fallon and Conan, and made MTV’s list of Artists to Watch in 2012.
1. Adam Sandler showed up to Andy’s wedding in character.
Not many people saw Andy Samberg’s comedy collaboration with Adam Sandler, That’s My Boy, and even fewer actually enjoyed the thing. Still, the flop may have been worth it for this one anecdote. It seems Andy Samberg invited his costar to his 2013 wedding, not expecting the movie bigwig to actually make it. So you can imagine his surprise when Sandler showed up to the rehearsal dinner as his That’s My Boy character, yelling things like “Oh, am I f*cking embarrassing you, buddy?” We’re guessing Andy’s soon to be wife, indie folk singer Joanna Newsom, probably answered “yes.”