You Can’t Have a Fist Fight Alone: 12 Questions With Kevin Heffernan and Steve Lemme of Broken Lizard

Kevin Heffernan and Steve Lemme

Kevin Heffernan and Steve Lemme

By Sean Tuohy

Kevin Heffernan and Steve Lemme are two members of comedy troupe “Broken Lizard,” who brought the world “Super Troopers” and “Beerfest” and helped me developed my sense of humor and build one of my strongest friendships.

Heffernan and Lemme have branched out to create their own brand with a live comedy show “Fat Man Little Boy,” in which they do stand up and tell stories. These two jacks-of-all-trades do live performances around the country, created a knee-slapping Web series “Fatty & Tatty,” and produce a weekly podcast “Chewin’ It.”

I got lucky enough to ask the guys some questions about their ventures and the possibility of “Super Troopers 2."

Sean Tuohy: How did you two first meet?

Kevin Heffernan: In college. Lemme was a freshman, I was a sophomore. One night someone stole my winter coat at a fraternity party. A week later it re-appeared, but the thief had left his college I.D. in it. The I.D. said "Steve Lemme." I confronted him about stealing my coat. He said, "Weird! Same guy who stole your coat must have been the guy who stole my I.D.!"

Steve Lemme: It’s true. I was selecting the coat I was going to steal and I found this overcoat that wrapped around me twice. It was like a burrito. Honestly, it fit me like a moo-moo. And there was a jumbo snickers bar in the pocket. It was a no brainer.

ST: Where did the idea of “Fat Man Little Boy” come from?

KH: It's kind of the Heffernan/Lemme dynamic. And then, of course, there are the atomic bombs we're named after.

SL: These are also the names we gave our penises. Wait…

ST: Was there a writing stage for “Fat Man Little Boy” or did you just go on stage and improv the show?

KH: We toured it for about a year or so. Constantly performing it and honing it until it was a well-oiled machine.

SL: It was really oily by the time we shot it. We’re shooting a new, oilier special in Denver in June, too. We need a title for it. What do you think about Lemme and Squiggy?” Or “Lemme and Piggy?”

ST: You two have wonderful crowd interactions during your live shows, but has there ever been a "bad" experience with a crowd?

KH: Not too often. Generally the people who come to see us are fans of the movies, so the crowds are never hostile. Lemme did have a run in with a woman who "disagreed" with his view of "Engagement Night Sex." She became more and more vocal and Lemme couldn't do much about it because she was with her husband...who was a cop.

SL: Then there was the time at Foxwoods when Loretta Lynn cancelled her show that was supposed to happen at the same time as ours. The casino comped about 200 octogenarians tickets to the show. They were literally riding in on scooters. Some had nose hoses in. None of them wanted to pay the two-drink minimum. And none of them were fans of ours. That was a rough crowd.

ST: How has your writing or humor changed since your first feature "Puddle Cruiser?" 

KH: We definitely know what we're doing more. So things are more efficient. We know the best way to write a script and can get it done. I think the sense of humor hasn't changed so much. I still enjoy a good fart joke as much as when I was 15.

SL: Kevin has gotten less funny.

ST: A lot of writers say that writing is a lonely experience but you write in a group. What are the pros and cons of writing in a group setting?

KH: Pros: More ideas come from more minds. Writing in a group gives you more people to edit your material. Cons: Way more fist fights. Hard to have a fist fight with yourself.

SL: Cons: More people editing your material. Kevin has something to say about everything. Pros: I get to have fist fights with Kevin.

ST: What is your writing process for a live show and for a movie? What are the major differences?

KH: For a live show, the writing process is much more trial and error. You have the ability to try things out on a regular basis and see if they work, revise them, etc. When you're shooting a movie, you need to know that you don't really get another shot to revise. The movies are a less fluid process, so you want to make sure the joke is where you want it to be before you shoot.

SL: Basically, I write all the funny stuff and I give some of the jokes to Kevin and the others.

ST: Your Web series “Fatty & Tatty” is one of the funniest Web series out there now. Where did you come up with the idea for web series? Why did you decide to do a Web series instead of television?

KH: We were at an airport and we spotted a fully tattooed guy waiting at the gate. Every bit of skin covered: face, head, hands. Everyone who passed him had some comment or reaction. We wondered what that guy's everyday life was like. On our plane, Lemme actually ended up sitting next to the guy and despite his intimidating look, he was a very sweet, shy type of guy. So we started writing little sketches about this guy's everyday life with a fat asshole buddy. Hence: “Fatty & Tatty.”

SL: The flight was to Cleveland. The guy was going to the rock ‘n’ roll Hall of Fame. He was really sad that Simon & Garfunkel couldn’t just get over their differences. It was fascinating.

KH: We thought it lent itself better to little sketch type moments, so we thought a Web series would be a pretty fun way to go. A lot of people had asked us to do one in the past and we never had, so we thought we'd give it a shot.

ST: What are some of the benefits of producing a Web series?

KH: It's fun in the way we used to make our first videos when we started out. Small crew. Guerrilla style. Low pressure. Just rolling the camera and having fun. You also have full creative control which is a plus.

SL: Yes, it was easy for Kevin. I, however, was in makeup for 14 hours. I wasn’t allowed to shower for three days, I had to sleep on my back and couldn’t move around in bed, and I was stuck to the sheets in the morning. My 1 1/2-year-old son was terrified at the sight of me, and when we were done shooting and I took the tats off, I was totally hairless and freezing.

ST: I have to ask about “Super Troopers.” The first time me and my best friends got drunk was to a game we made up called "Super Troopers Drinking Game" and it ended...badly. How did you come with the idea for “Super Troopers” and will there be a sequel?"

KH: We came up with the idea for “Super Troopers” one summer when we were driving around to a bunch of weddings and doing a bunch of road trips. We always found ourselves driving long distances in Jay Chandrasekhar's car. We would get pulled over occasionally and joke about how much control the cop could have if he started fucking with us. And it kind of went from there.

Yes, we are getting ready to do “ST2” now. Script is written. Just finalizing some deal stuff, some financing stuff and we hope to roll very soon.

SL: It’s all true.

ST: Who is the better chugger of you two?

KH: Me. Kevin. Definitely.

SL: That’s not very gracious, Kev.

ST: Can you each tell us one random fact about yourself?

KH: Before we made our first movie, I went to law school. So when this comedy stuff doesn't pan out, I have a backup plan.

SL: I don’t have a calf muscle in my right leg. Seriously.

To learn more about Heffernan and Lemme, check out their official website, or follow them on Twitter @HeffernanRules and @SteveLemme.

The Writer's Bone Interviews Archive