About 10 years ago, Vince Vaughn and his one night Wild West Comedy Show rolled into my town, Music City USA. I had a prior date, with Elton John, and had to miss it. This was like Sophie’s Choice, because both Vince and Elton are huge to me (pun not intended) but I opted to miss the Comedy showcase. Despite having a hell of a time getting my Crocodile Rock on, I was still bummed that I had missed out on the fun with a rad group of funny people rocking the Ryman Auditorium.
Flash forward 10 years later and I learn that The Wild West Comedy Festival will be making an extended stay in Nashville, meaning DAYS of shows involving ginormous names in the comedy world like Marc Maron, Seth Meyers and Aziz Anzari playing different venues around town from Jack White’s tiny Third Man records to the spacious Tennessee Performing Arts Center. Because I am not dripping in dollar bills, I had to be selective and opted to see a live performance of the Comedy Central show @midnight emcee’d by the Nerdist king himself, Chris Hardwick and a panel with the Lonely Island hosted by Vince Vaughn at Nashville’s Belcourt Theater. Neither disappointed!
The latter was the last and arguably most sought after event of the festival. Seats were limited and the first run of tickets went within a minute. Truthfully, I have no inkling of how I got ours. [I gather I should give thanks to my obsessive nature and my home’s stealthy Internet.] What made it more exciting is that it was held not 24 hours after Andy Samberg had returned to his alma mater Saturday Night Live to host the season finale. [A good 25% of the show was dedicated to Andy cutting up with Vince about how awesome it is to host SNL and then looking disdainfully at Jorma and Akiva for not being part of that club.]
Prior to witnessing it, I really had no idea how the show was going to be formatted. I assumed it wouldn’t be stand-up being that Andy, Akiva and Jorma are not known for their standup, and would feature some videos. Luckily it was really an interesting blend and the shorts were scattered in appropriately from their earliest attempts like the Fraggle Rock inspired Awesometown to the one that had just aired the previous evening on SNL where the world of EDM music was parodied with When Will the Bass Drop?[Everytime they walked off stage to watch the clips together, it was hilarious to see the guys goof off as the 8 foot Vince Vaughn towered head and shoulders above them.]
Between clips, the setup was a panel interview scattered with audience Q & A, initiated by Vaughn, where he asked the guys about their earliest days. [Let it be known that my 20s crush, Vince Vaughn also did not fail to leave up to every character he has ever played on film. From Jeremy on Wedding Crashers to Trent in Swingers, Vaughn is known for playing the confident asshole that you still find loveable for some unknown reason. He heckled some woman and told her to sit down when she asked an off topic question about SNL creator Lorne Michaels and called out another woman for filming with her iPhone. That’s so Vince.] They went over the history of how they came to be The Lonely Island- how they met in Berkley, CA in middle school and how they stayed friends through college, and used to make movies to entertain themselves and each other. There were several stories about them working as PA’s and temps on movies that would later serve as the lot where Samberg now acts on Brooklyn 99.
They answered a lot of questions about conceptualizing their music videos and which stars were exciting to work with. They talked about how they weren’t sure sweet demure Natalie Portman could pull off the now infamous Natalie’s Rap, so they made her audition to show her street cred. They also talked about how the Jack Sparrow song was written with Michael Bolton and originally was MUCH raunchier but had to be toned down considerably to appeal to Bolton’s conservative fan base. They also revealed that they learned what YouTube was because someone told them Lazy Sunday was on it.
The highlight of the evening was when a person in the audience from China stood up and told the men of The Lonely Island that songs like Dick in a Box and I Just Had Sex helped him learn the English language, which he now spoke quite well. He also revealed that in Asia their music is not merely parody but part of the popular music scene- a fixture in clubs and on radio stations there. After he spoke, it was obvious by the genuine smile on Andy’s face that he was super humbled by the comment. How cool is it that people in other countries think that it is common practice in American holiday culture to give each other packages filled with well…their packages.