Imagine you’re about to get married. And then, mere weeks before the epic bachelor party you have planned with friends, the girl hangs herself. On your birthday. The fuck?
This is the premise of Jeff Baena’s (I Heart Huckabees, Life After Beth) latest film, Joshy, which follows 30-something Josh (Thomas Middleditch, Silicon Valley) through the aftermath of his would-be wife’s suicide—an obstacle made even harder as she’s played by the breathtaking Alison Brie. Luckily (or unluckily), Josh’s buddy Ari (Adam Pally, Happy Endings) insists they keep their party commitments. Because what better way to mark your fiancée’s passing than getting fucked up with friends?
We caught up with Middleditch and Pally at Sundance, where the pair’s guillotine-sharp humor cut through the clutter of a hotel press day. And even though I lost a bet to Pally (if you’re reading this, Adam, I still owe you dinner), it was worth defeat just to observe their sardonic rapport. We’ll keep you posted on Joshy’s future plans for distribution, but, in the meantime, enjoy these fractured takes on life, social media and the best bachelor party ever.
This film is centered around a bachelor party. How did you two celebrate your last moments as “free men?”
Adam: [Thomas] and I had very different bachelor parties. I did the classic Vegas deal… it was bad. It was a bad bachelor party. I mean, it was good. It was fun. But things got hairy in ways that I don’t really want to talk about. I have a lot of friends who went on that trip, and we made a commitment to never speak her name—I mean, talk about the party—again.
Thomas: I actually had a somewhat similar bachelor party to the one shown in this movie—fiancée suicide aside. Six or seven of my friends and I went up to this cabin in the Santa Cruz mountains. One person brought a very complex board game, which we ended up playing and loved. I swear, it wasn’t as lame as it sounds. There was a bit of drugs and boozing; it just wasn’t crazy. We holed up and had a great time. For the record, and in case my wife is reading, no strippers.
What advice do you have for my bachelorette party? Or for bachelor/bachelorette parties in general?
Thomas: I think you should get a tiara with a dick on it, go to a comedy show, and then, when the performer tries to interact with the audience, you should never stop talking. Or don’t get engaged and redefine what relationships and commitment are for you.
Adam: You should do whatever makes you feel relaxed. Bachelor and bachelorette parties go wrong when people put too much stock on them. It’s just a ritual—another party, another trip with your friends. If you put too much pressure on it, you’ll go crazy.
Speaking of pressure, do your wives get pissed when you film love scenes with other women?
Adam: My wife and I have been married for almost six years, and I’ve been doing this a long time. When you first start, those scenes can feel a bit unnatural [for your partner]. But then you grow up and realize, “I’m married to an actor. I’m an adult; that’s his job.” You need to have a really strong level of trust, but it’s not the easiest part of the job.
This film deals with some pretty heavy topics. Variety even called it “one of the saddest comedies ever.” What do you think?
Thomas: If that’s what [Variety] thinks, I say good. It’s Sundance—if you’re going to do a comedy, you can’t do a formulaic buddy road trip where two friends are stranded in Mexico. No: You want to try something different. I’m happy Joshy has sadness in it, because my favorite comedies are the sad ones—the British Office, for example. You need to play both the masks of Greek catharsis. And honestly, every comedian I know is one of the saddest motherfuckers in the world. My favorite musician is Elliott Smith. I listen to him on my car ride to work. And that dude stabbed himself in the chest.
Adam: Jokes are sad. Humor is often a defense mechanism to deflect sadness. I hope it would be possible to make a sad comedy. I don’t know why that feels so crazy to people. If [this movie] weren’t sad, it wouldn’t be funny.
On a different note, do you guys ever feel pressure to have a social media presence?
Thomas: I’ve never had a casting agent straight up ask me for my social numbers, but I feel like it would be easier if I had 5 million followers. Take Kevin Hart, for example. No offense to his ability—he’s incredibly funny—but that man relentlessly markets himself… He’s become this thing. A brand. A built-in marketing tool. If you have him in your movie, you’re going to get views. You’re going to get rabid fans. And that’s tangible. There’s also something to be said for someone like Zach Woods on Silicon Valley. He doesn’t have Twitter or Instagram. He thinks all that stuff’s ridiculous… He wants no part of it, and I don’t think that’s hindering his career. If anything, it makes him more coveted. If I mention Zach in a tweet or post a picture with him, people clamor. They want him more because they see less of him. So I do think there’s something to be said for flipping the bird to social media. Now, hold on while I tweet that…
Speaking of media, Spike Lee has caused quite the press storm with his decision to skip the Oscars.
Adam: I’m a white Jew who had uncles and aunts in the industry. They gave me internships. So, I’m clearly coming at things from a place of privilege. I’m fearful to give a sound bite that will be taken out of context so someone can say, “This is what Adam Pally thinks about the situation.” What I do think is that discrimination is real. Its not by chance there’s been a glaring omission [in the Oscar nominations] two years in a row, and it should be talked about.
Thomas: I get the motivation… As a white guy, I also clearly comment on this from another point of view. All I know is that you can’t be the victim. The best way to change things is by proving people wrong. But it’s also not like there’s this dark room in Hollywood where the elders meet and say, “Let’s ban blacks and girls.” We’re talking about a very real thing in a very racially divided country.
I would imagine Hollywood is a tough industry regardless of gender or color.
Thomas: I’m from a small town in Canada. [Becoming a comedian] was fucking hard. I’m not saying it’s the same struggle other people face, but this business is hard. It’s hard for everybody. There are very few people who turn 18 and find instant success in Hollywood. That’s a Cinderella story; 1 percent of the people who try will succeed.
What’s the best piece of advice you can offer someone in a tough spot?
Adam: Howard Stern said something on the radio a couple weeks ago that really impacted me: “I don’t believe there’s anything after life, so I will hold on in whatever state, in whatever thing that happens.” I don’t know if I believe that or not, but it does give me the freedom to be sad… to accept that horrible things will happen to me, but that I’ve just got to live through it.
Thomas: Heartbreak, disappointment, depression—that’s all part of life. If you’re not figuring out the Rubik’s Cube of whatever emotional hurdle you’re dealing with right now, trust that hindsight will get you there. You might just have to live in it for a little while.