5 Throwaway Jokes It Took Insane Work To Pull Off
There's an old aphorism that claims "dying is easy, comedy is hard" -- which is probably why Game of Thrones was full of decapitations and immolations, but Jon Snow never once masqueraded as an elderly nanny from the Iron Islands following his break-ups. But as fleeting and disposable as some jokes might seem, some of them require more blood, sweat, and other bodily fluids than you might expect, such as how ...
Sasha Baron Cohen Was Attacked By An Angry Mob While Making Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Featuring Sacha Baron Cohen, Maria Bakalova, and Rudy Giuliani's raging ickiness, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm was one of the few bright spots of 2020; a surprisingly successful follow-up to the 2006 comedy. And while it may look like Cohen’s process consists of simply slapping on a porno stache and rolling the cameras, a whole lot of work goes into crafting his brand of ridiculousness. For example, the scene where Borat crashes Mike Pence's CPAC speech dressed as a Dick Tracy villain-esque Trump --
The stunt required getting up at one in the morning to have six hours worth of make-up applied, followed by hiding in the CPAC men's room, rationing out sips of Coke while listening to Republicans pooping for "a number of hours." And a lot of viewers may not realize how elaborately contrived some of the situations really are. That debutante ball Borat was seemingly invited to? The party was actually thrown by Cohen, with attendees paid $50 each to attend.
Similarly, at the "March For Our Rights" rally, Borat performs an impromptu racist country song -- but the stage and band had all been secretly paid for by Cohen, acting as a "PAC out of Southern California." And even though the event security was hired by Cohen, an angry mob was eventually able to storm the stage, forcing the crew to take refuge in the private ambulance that served as their "escape vehicle."
Yup Sacha Baron Cohen was almost beaten to death by a right-wing militia who were either pissed off about the prank, or weren't big fans of The Brothers Grimsby.
30 Rock -- 'Werewolf Bar Mitzvah' Was Way Too Much Work For 8 Seconds of Comedy
One of the most memorable rapid-fire gags from 30 Rock (that doesn't involve Black Frasier) was "Werewolf Bar Mitzvah," Tracy Jordan's novelty song that inexplicably earned a gold record. The brief glimpse of the music video we see depicts Tracy dressed like a cross between Michael Jackson in Thriller and the cast member from a community theatre production of Cats, awkwardly grooving in a gloriously janky faux cemetery.
Despite the fact that the joke lasts for less than ten seconds in the finished episode, a surprising amount of thought and work went into its creation. For one thing, writer and executive producer Robert Carlock sketched out a rough backstory for the song's creation imagining that "Tracy probably went to a bar mitzvah and thought, 'Why are there no bar mitzvah songs playing at this party?'" He also reasoned that the video should look cheap and unconvincing as "Tracy was rushing to get it done in time for bar mitzvah season."
They ended up recording a full-length version of the song, with a lyrical assist from Donald Glover who also did a "pretty amazing Tracy impression" and sang on much of the track. Insanely, building the tombstone-filled set took three whole days to complete and filming took three hours -- all in the service of a joke that lasted about as long as a sneeze.
Mr. Show's 'The Story of Everest' Required A Lot of Clean-Up
Before Bob Odenkirk was the Emmy-nominated star of Better Call Saul and David Cross was that guy who battled Alvin and the Chipmunks (to his own existential horror) they were of course the stars of Mr. Show, the beloved HBO sketch comedy series. One of the most absurdly prolonged bits in a show that loved its absurdly prolonged bits was "The Story of Everest." The sketch finds an old-timey explorer returning home to his parents to proudly recount his adventures climbing Mt. Everest ... only to fall backwards and knock over several shelves displaying his mother's thimble collection. Then it happens again. And again. And again. For over seven minutes.
The sketch was inspired by writer and cast member Jay Johnston's childhood, specifically the time a relative drunkenly attempted to recount the events of a baseball game and repeatedly toppled over. But the actual filming of the sketch was surprisingly laborious.
Why? Well, because after each fall the crew had to clean everything up. According to Cross, it required "anywhere from six to 12 minutes to get the set ready again" -- meaning that this one sketch took around 40 minutes to film in front of a live audience. While it's painfully funny once edited together, sitting there for almost three quarters of an hour, the audience got bored as hell; as Odenkirk recalls: "It got no laughs at all. There was no laughter. Nothing." Johnston added that it was "so uncomfortable onstage." The magic of live television!
The Suicide Squad -- John Cena Almost Made Himself Puke With Empanadas
We don't know exactly what's going to happen in the upcoming James Gunn movie The Suicide Squad, presumably there will be a bunch of crazy action sequences and hopefully a prolonged, fourth wall-breaking apology for the previous movie. One thing we do know is that John Cena's character Peacemaker will scarf down an empanada "in one go." Which sounds like it could be amusing, after all, who wouldn't want to see a DC Comics super-soldier gobbling Mexican delicacies with reckless abandon?
But this required Cena to perform the gluttonous act in multiple takes, ultimately consuming a total of 31 goddamn empanadas during filming. Which seems like ... too many empanadas.
According to Cena, he was able to "penguin waddle" off the set unscathed -- but had he been forced to down a 32nd empanada, Cena admits he may have finally barfed. You'd think that the movie, which also features a walking, talking mutant shark man, would have been able to CGI one friggin' empanada.
Community and Arrested Development Created Full-Length Songs You Barely Hear
Obviously, a lot of hard work went into making Community; from the action choreography required for the paintball-themed episodes, to the stop motion-animated Christmas show that took four months to produce, to whatever saint-like patience it took to put up with both Dan Harmon and Chevy Chase. But it turns out that even some of the briefest of moments were lovingly crafted and detailed. In the episode "Basic Intergluteal Numismatics" the Greendale campus is plagued by the return of the "Ass Crack Bandit," a mysterious fiend who drops coins between the buttocks of unsuspecting students.
The episode also features a song, appropriately titled "Ass Crack Bandit" written and performed by Ben Folds, who also has a cameo as Greendale's botany professor. While the song plays briefly at the end of the episode, a full-length version was recorded and it's ... surprisingly great for a song that A) exists purely to service a sitcom joke and B) contains the words "ass crack" in the title.
Similarly, Arrested Development featured the song "Balls in the Air" for a brief training montage, but ended up creating a full, pretty decent "Eye of the Tiger" style rock anthem.
It's easily one of the best songs about balls since Jerry Lee Lewis crooned about his out-of-control jock itch.
Top Image: NBC Universal