20Q: Zach Galifianakis

By Eric Spitznagel

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20Q: Zach Galifianakis:

Photo: Flickr/cleftclips (CC BY 2.0).

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Q1

*PLAYBOY: *Your new movie *Due Date *is about a pair of strangers on a road trip to Los Angeles. Did you have any real-life experiences to draw on?

GALIFIANAKIS: I’ve traveled back and forth from New York to California a few times. When I first moved out to California, I packed up a van with all three of my possessions—a globe, a mattress and a poster of Gorbachev—and then, along with my friends Lisa and Bobby, drove the 2,700-plus-mile trip through the land of plenty, heading toward the land of milk and honey. I also used to hitchhike in college with a sign that read i don’t have a gun. People really seemed to like the sign, and I got picked up often.

Q2

PLAYBOY: Your character in *Due Date *is a deluded, self-involved would-be actor. Is that pretty much the truth about most actors?

GALIFIANAKIS: Not really. I mean, it’s a business in which you are the product, so self-involvement comes with the territory. There are so many deluded people in the acting world. It’s like they’re hoping a limo will pull up next to them at a corner, roll down its window and some silhouette of a voice will say, "Hop in, kid. You’re perfect." That’s the mentality of everybody, even all those piece-of-shit reality-show contestants.

Q3

*PLAYBOY: *You originally wanted to be an actor before deciding on a career in stand-up comedy instead. What changed your mind?

GALIFIANAKIS: I never found an acting class in New York City that satisfied me. I was always rolling my eyes in class because of the gravity of most of the students. I met a person in a bar who told me I should try stand-up. My first show was in the back of a hamburger joint. As soon as I stepped off the stage, I knew that would be my path.

Q4

PLAYBOY: *Due Date *features a soon-to-be-infamous scene in which you and a pet dog named Sonny masturbate together. Does this count as your first official cinematic sex scene?

GALIFIANAKIS: I would think so. To be honest, I am too much of a snob to think I would like to see that in a movie. I dislike any sex scene in movies. But this is a first for me, so I’m eager to see how people react. Is it high cinema? No. Would Lassie have done it? No. But the director, Todd Phillips, likes to push the envelope.

Q5

*PLAYBOY: *What about the old acting rule that you should never work with kids or animals because they’ll upstage you?

GALIFIANAKIS: I had many discussions with Sonny about this very subject. He’s a French bulldog, so his English is not that great, but we managed to strike a balance about the tone we wanted to pull off together.

Q6

*PLAYBOY: *You once claimed that you’ve gotten more successful as you’ve gained weight. Do you really think there’s a connection?

GALIFIANAKIS: No, I was just trying to be clever. I miss being lighter. I want to get back to that. I can hardly text because of my fat fingers.

Q7

PLAYBOY: How many pounds do you have to pack on before you win an Oscar?

GALIFIANAKIS: Me personally? Two.

Q8

*PLAYBOY: *Your beard has become part of your comic persona. What inspired you to grow it in the first place?

GALIFIANAKIS: I have a birthmark in the shape of a question mark. No, I’m just not that much of a groomer. I bathe often, but as far as mirror time…I just don’t like the mirror. I try to cut the old lady off about once a year. People make such a big deal about my beard, and I find it so odd.

Q9

*PLAYBOY: *Your stand-up persona has a very short temper. You’ve been known to berate your audience, attacking them for mild heckling or just not paying attention. Is that staged, or do you really have a short fuse?

GALIFIANAKIS: I have a healthy disdain for people who are rude. I was brought up with manners, and if you are not respectful to those around you, then you deserve to be embarrassed in front of a thousand onlookers. I don’t have a short fuse, but I think it’s funny to get upset quickly, and I have the freedom to do that at my shows. But it has to be organic.

Q10

*PLAYBOY: *Until recently, you made frequent jokes about how unrecognizable you are. Now with a few hits under your belt, do you enjoy being recognized?

GALIFIANAKIS: I don’t like it at all. I’m not good with it. The other day I was at this fancy Indian restaurant in Manhattan, and these kids were secretly taking my photo with their camera phones. I flipped them off, and then they got really gun-shy and scared. I felt bad about that. I was just trying to be funny, but I ended up hurting their feelings. I went up to them and apologized.

Q11

*PLAYBOY: *Your last name is a mouthful. Growing up, did you have a mnemonic device to learn how to spell it?

GALIFIANAKIS: Yes. On Sesame Street there was a song called “Ladybugs’ Picnic” where they counted to 12. My last name has 12 letters, so my mom substituted the numbers for letters. And that is how we learned as kids.

Q12

*PLAYBOY: *You grew up in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, which has a population of just a few thousand. Was it like growing up in Mayberry?

GALIFIANAKIS: Well, the gentleman who whistled the theme to The Andy Griffith Show came to my grade school. He whistled for an hour. Just whistled away. He went to work with no tools, no briefcase, no uniform at all. He just needed his mouth. That’s how he made a living, by whistling. I remember being in awe of him. He really did affect me.

Q13

PLAYBOY: You’ve had several unique and bizarre day jobs, from working as a busboy in a strip joint to being a nanny. If you ever retire from comedy, which of your former day jobs would you consider revisiting?

GALIFIANAKIS: I wasn’t good at any of them. I despise strip clubs, and being a nanny is frustrating when the children can beat you up. I would like to be a train robber if this all goes away. Which it will.

Q14

*PLAYBOY: *You were also a waiter at a drag-queen restaurant. How do you look in a dress?

GALIFIANAKIS: I was the only guy not required to dress as a woman. The drag queens did not like me, though. I always thought the way they dressed was so hacky. I feel drag queens are often mocking women. I never thought I would say that last sentence in my life, but I finally did.

Q15

*PLAYBOY: *In comedy sketches, you sometimes play an acting teacher named Tairy Greene who gives surreal and useless advice to his students. What’s your best and worst career advice for aspiring comics?

GALIFIANAKIS: I’m awful at giving advice. I just told someone the other day they should invest in the Von Dutch trucker-hat company. Having said that, my best advice is just to get on stage as much as possible. And my worst advice is that you should listen to me.

Q16

*PLAYBOY: *The jockstrap you wore during one of the opening scenes in The Hangoverhas become legendary. Any chance it’ll end up on eBay someday?

GALIFIANAKIS: EBay? You mean the Smithsonian? You do not put works of historical magnitude such as that up for auction on eBay. No, I don’t have the jockstrap anymore. I think I gave it to my great-aunt for Christmas.

Q17

PLAYBOY: You wore a Baby Björn for much of The Hangover, and ever since there’s been a spike in sales for baby carriers. If you could inspire another cultural or consumer trend, what would it be?

GALIFIANAKIS: Ceiling fans for your car.

Q18

PLAYBOY: When you hosted Saturday Night Liveyou mentioned in the monologue how much you hate Brooklyn hipsters. But you’re kind of known as a hipster comic. Are you filled with self-loathing?

GALIFIANAKIS: I’m not sure what a hipster is, but if I am one, then I know I don’t like them. I always thought hipsters were the guys with tiny jeans, trust funds and thin bodies who make references to art galleries I’ve never heard of. I see them in my neighborhood and they are too cool. Try saying good morning to them. When someone says good morning to me on the street, I love it.

Q19

*PLAYBOY: *During your stand-up sets you sometimes accompany yourself on piano. Is that your security blanket?

GALIFIANAKIS: I think it became a security blanket for me, and then it became too limiting. I don’t do it as much as I used to. I really don’t know how to play the piano. I’m making it up as I go along.

Q20

PLAYBOY:You purportedly hate technology, especially phones, because you don’t like being too easy to get in touch with. Are you trying to become the J.D. Salinger of comedy?

GALIFIANAKIS: I’m on the phone all the time, it seems. But in North Carolina, where I’m from, occasionally there’s no cell coverage, and we don’t have long distance at the house. It frees you. I will never have the courage to do it, but I really would like to get rid of my computer.


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