Wet Hot American Summer: 15 Behind-The-Scenes Facts
Wet Hot American Summer encapsulated what alt-comedy is all about; making something really funny that a lot of the public doesn’t understand. This cult classic has gotten huge over the past decade, leading to its prequel series on Netflix and several midnight showings. Here are 15 wet hot facts for your wet hot summer.
There Is A Behind The Scenes Documentary
Undoubtedly, when you watch Wet Hot American Summer, you think to yourself, “That must have been more fun to shoot than a movie starring only puppies about laser tag.” A bunch of budding comedians all shoved together at a summer camp for a few weeks to make a movie, is a great idea for its own movie, right? Luckily David Wain pieced together all the behind-the-scenes footage of the filming process into an hour-long documentary free on Vimeo called Hurricane Of Fun.
The Actors Really Lived At The Summer Camp
Paul Rudd told Entertainment Weekly “We lived at the camp. We slept there. It was like being in summer camp and everybody hung out with everybody. It was the only thing I ever worked on where people would just go to watch scenes being shot, not so much to support, but because it was just really fun. So there was a very communal feel to the whole thing. And if somebody wasn’t working, they would make the run into town, which was about half an hour away, and get all of the beer and stuff for that night.”
Wet Hot Launched Several Careers
Elizabeth Banks was working as a cocktail waitress in New York at the time of filming, and Bradley Cooper missed his own graduation from The Actor’s Studio in order to attend. Paul Rudd says that Wet Hot was the primary reason Adam McKay let him join the cast of Anchorman and Elizabeth Banks was reportedly cast in The 40-Year-Old Virgin because Seth Rogen was also a Wet Hot fan.
The Movie Was Hated By Critics
With a budget of $1.8 million and a return of only $300,000, Wet Hot was considered a disastrous failure. Rudd’s agent didn’t want him to do the film because the protagonist doesn’t end up with the girl. According to EW, “Salon.com described the film as ‘a model of how not to make anything.’ The Oregonian called it ‘agony on a stick,’ and gave it an F.”
There Is A Wet Hot Board Game
Geoffrey Golden and Lee Keiller worked together to create the first officially licensed Wet Hot American Summer D&D style tablet top board game. I know, how did they beat everyone to it? According to the Kickstarter, “Fantasy Camp” allows you to play as your favorite Wet Hot camper or counselor and navigate through challenges set by the dungeon master aka the camp director.
The Movie’s Core Audience Was A Younger Generation
All the cast members recount that while critics and investors hated the movie, they began to realize it had a cult following in colleges and young adults. Rudd said, “I remember thinking, ‘Kids my age and maybe younger are going to dig it.’ I heard the people who ran the studio, the main guys, didn’t like it all of the kids that were working at the desks of the guys who were working at the studio, they all loved it. It did seem like a very generational kind of thing.”
The Camp Was A Hardcore Party Zone
The now sober Janeane Garofalo said, “I was drunk 90 percent of the time.” Amy Poehler describes the evenings as “It was like high school. One of us would go on a booze run, and it would be like, ‘Get me Jägermeister!’ And whatever they would bring back, you would get trashed.” Garofalo even admitted that the alcohol and close quarters resulted in quite a bit of “bunk-hopping” between cast mates.
It Rained Nearly Every Day Of Filming
While everyone thought that they would be taking part in summer activities like swimming, basketball, or cotton candy making, sadly all three would be impossible as it rained 23 out of their 28 filming days. This took the biggest toll on Elizabeth Banks who had many scenes in a bikini, swimming in the camp’s freezing lake.
Marguerite Moreau Originally Auditioned For Elizabeth Bank’s Character
According to Moreau, she went to audition at Michael Showalter's house, after Bradley Cooper said he could get her an spot. She continued, “We sat in his living room and I read the barbeque sauce scene—I’d auditioned for the barbeque girl. Michael said, ‘Hmmm. Why don’t you read for Katie?’ I think they felt it was probably a better fit.”
There Is A Commentary Of Just Farts
Like the true auteur comedians they are, Showalter and Wain decided to add a commentary on the DVD that was only a collection of looped fart sounds. Wain said, “The idea for the fart track was similar to how a lot of the ideas we had come up. One or the other of us being like, ‘There should be an extra track on the DVD that’s only farts, right?’ And the other one would be like, ‘Of course. You don’t even have to say that out loud. Of course that’s what we have to do.’"
Hank Azaria Attended The Camp
Janeane Garofalo was surprised to find Hank Azaria's name carved into a bunk bed at the camp, and called up her former Mystery Men costar to ask, “what gives?” Azaria revealed that he attended Camp Towanda from ages six to 15. Azaria added, “It was fantastic, some of the happiest times of my life.”
The Writers Spent Three Years Looking For Financing
According to David Wain, ”Over and over again we were told, ‘We’re giving you the money!’ Then these people would disappear. I remember trying to track someone down in their office in the East Village to confront them. And the ‘office’ was someone’s house, and there was no one there by that name.”
A shocking blow to Wain’s confidence, or a possible ghost encounter?
Christopher Meloni Met Michael Showalter At A Chess Class
Meloni said that he hadn’t met Wain or Showalter in a professional setting before the film, but he did “know Michael Showalter through a chess shop.” Meloni continues, “It was called the Chess Shop, on Thompson Street . I used to go play chess there, and he and I played chess a few times, but I didn’t know his name or anything.” When asked about his audition, Meloni added, “I remember walking in the room, and I saw Michael, and was like, Oh sh*t. I wish I hadn’t beaten him in chess. “
A Pre-Famous Cameo
A young Kyle Gallner, who went on to star in Dear White People, Smallville, Veronica Mars, and Outsiders makes a cameo in the film before he was even famous. What a get! Kyle plays the boy who informs Paul Rudd’s character, Andy, that his swimming buddy has just drowned while he was busy making out with Elizabeth Banks.
Related: Sneaky Ways Directors Hid Cameos
Super Troopers Stole Wet Hot’s Buzz
Wain and Showalter had big hopes when Wet Hot was accepted to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, but sadly it did not lead to any interest in the film. According to Garofalo, “there was a bidding war over a movie called Super Troopers by Broken Lizard, which eclipsed us. People thought, “Oh, this is the same type of thing. The State people have put out a movie, and here’s Broken Lizard—let’s go with Broken Lizard.”
For exclusive ComedyNerd content and more, subscribe to our spiffy newsletter:
Top Image: Eureka Pictures