15 Trivia Tidbits About The Lonely Island
The Lonely Island comedy trio of Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone first hit the internet in 2001 and quickly spread from there like, uh, jizz in their pants. They’ve released four studio albums, two feature films and even produced that movie where J.K. Simmons hunts Samberg through a time loop in the Colorado Desert.
Moreover, they’re widely regarded as the first internet comedians to cross over to mainstream media. Their hit, “Lazy Sunday,” prompted Apple to start selling Saturday Night Live bits on iTunes, and they managed to even win an Emmy for a song called “Dick in the Box.” Here are some more trivia tidbits about the guys who refer to their music as “fake rap”…
It All Started With a Website
Having known each other since high school, they moved to L.A. after college and quickly developed The Lonely Island website so they could post their short, self-made videos online. The name of their comedy group came from the nickname they gave to their L.A. apartment. Schaffer’s brother, Micah, helped them stream their shorts since those were a novelty in the ancient days of 2001. Continuing down that road, Micah later went on to work at YouTube.
John Waters Didn’t Need Much Convincing to be Featured in ‘The Creep’
When the guys were discussing what the look of a creep would be for their song, “The Creep,” they immediately thought of Waters, wondering if he’d be down to do the intro for the video. As Taccone told GQ, “John Waters was in San Francisco, and we had a remote crew go to him because he was on a book tour. And we talked to him on the phone a bunch of times, and we’re trying to clarify what this was going to be. His quote was, ‘There’s a thin line between perv and asshole, and if you could please keep me on the perv side of things.’”
The Hilarious Censoring of ‘Jizz in My Pants’
The video for this 2008 hit was immediately uploaded onto the internet following its SNL debut on December 8th. It went viral overnight, knocking OK GO’s treadmill song right off YouTube’s “Most Viewed” list, and was so popular that it aired on national radio. But not every station felt comfortable having their airwaves blare the word “jizz,” so a cleaner version was produced — that instead used the sound of a guy blowing his load.
Filming ‘I’m on a Boat’ Was Pretty Challenging — At Least for T-Pain
The rapper told USA Today that they shot the video on a “$30 million yacht, which was pretty cool. I’ll tell you what, though — it was cold as f—k out there. We had to do these (aerial) shots, and I wish drones had been popular back then because they used an actual helicopter, and that thing was spraying so much water on us. That was probably the worst video day I’ve ever been through.”
They Were One of the First Viral Sensations on YouTube
YouTube was launched in 2005 — around the time Lonely Island got picked up by SNL. Andy Samberg told GQ: “I remember with ‘Lazy Sunday’ (their digital short for SNL), it was the first time you could forward a link using YouTube. We’d heard a lot of people had seen it, but when we tracked it on our YouTube channel, it was mind-blowing. We were like, ‘Wait, our video's the No.1 watched thing in, like, Israel and Sweden and places we’ve never even been?’ It was the coolest feeling.”
They Did a Hilarious Ad for a Swedish Vodka
In 2010, Rokk Vodka announced that The Lonely Island fellas had officially been hired as the company’s new “creative directors” and subsequently released this very on-brand promotional ad.
Their ‘Lettuce’ Sketch Cost $20
After borrowing a camera from Bill Hader’s wife and filming their Ying Yang Twins parody, “The Bing Bong Brothers,” Lorne Michaels told the trio that they could make their own pre-recorded videos without consulting him first — as long as the skits featured SNL cast members. Roping in Will Forte, the guys then proceeded to film their My Dinner with Andre parody, “Lettuce,” with the smallest budget possible.
Natalie Portman Insisted on Doing a Song with Them
When “Lazy Sunday” dropped, Portman was the guest host of that week's show and practically demanded to do a song sketch with the guys. “We were like, woah, Natalie Portman!” Samberg remembers. “But we were wary because every host at SNL comes in, sees the last thing that was popular and says they want to do that again. Which is a problem. But then she started quoting Lil’ Kim lyrics to us that were just so dirty. So we said, ‘Okay, are you willing to do stuff like that?’ She was like: ‘Sure! Whatever you guys want.’ So we wrote a song to see what we could get away with basically — and she did everything.”
They Changed the Way Writers Work at Saturday Night Live
Due to the fact that the trio not only wrote and performed but also edited and produced their content for SNL, writers today are expected to at least have some video-editing skills under their belts.
Kiefer Sutherland Once Mistook One of Their Stunts As Real
Prior to their SNL days, they filmed a pilot for a Lonely Island TV series that saw them supposedly become addicted to teeth-whitening products. In one scene, they mug an old woman, but Sutherland — who just happened to drive by the scene when they shot it — thought it was all real and tried to save the woman (who was actually in her 20s) from the three fake thugs.
Jimmy Fallon Discovered Them for Lorne Michaels
In 2005, the group got to work on the MTV Movie Awards, which featured Fallon as the host. Fallon thought the guys were rad, telling everyone at SNL about them, including Michaels. All three of them were hired — Taccone and Schaffer as writers, with Samberg as a cast member.
They Were Greatly Inspired by the Marx Brothers
Prior to their success, the three friends bonded over their shared love for comedians like Adam Sandler, Chris Farley, Mel Brooks and the Marx Brothers. “We definitely went through a Marx Brothers phase when we were living in L.A.,” Samberg told NPR. “We watched a bunch of old Marx Brothers movies and decided that every time we told a joke that all three appreciated, we would shake each other’s hands and go, ‘Very nice! Thank you! Congratulations!’”
Fake Movie Posters Are Included Inside of Their Album ‘Turtleneck and Chain’
For Turtleneck and Chain, the guys made three faux-movie posters inside the booklet. One of them is titled Ghost Butt-sters, and is about three dudes whose butts are ghosts. As Taccone has explained, “We were trying to make Ghost Butt-sters look like it was the front of a copy of a VHS tape at a movie store that you would’ve walked by and been bummed out. It looks like our three butts are a version of Slimer, but butt-shaped.”
The ‘Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping’ Scene That Got Cut Because of Macklemore
While the movie’s song “Equal Rights” parodied the singer himself, Macklemore had an invisible hand in a scene that never made it into the comedy. Taccone said that they had written a bit in which Connor4Real came up with a new “Air Max kind of Nike shoe” that he modeled after his beloved turtle and saw the big toe sticking out of the sneaker. “And then the next week, Macklemore came out with a salmon-themed shoe,” Taccone has said. “There’s like eight things that happened like that in the movie.”
Michael Bolton Requested a Lot of Rewrites Before Agreeing to Star in ‘Jack Sparrow’
According to Samberg, they had to beg the singer to feature alongside them in the song where Bolton got to wear a most unfortunate chin beard. Bolton himself told Entertainment Weekly, “They were sending me lyrics, and I was reading them, and I was thinking, ‘This is funny.’ Then I’d get to another line that I really wish I could share with you right now, but I just can’t. I would say, ‘Nope, I don’t think I could be intoxicated enough to read this line.’ It kept transforming. And they really wanted me to do it. Because they could have just said at any point, ‘Nah, you’re going to take the funny out of it; you’re going to take the shock value out of it.’ Finally, I said, ‘This is great. But can we still take a look at some of this language because I’m still not comfortable.’”