Why did Andy Samberg pick the competitive world of cycling for this latest mockumentary?
“We thought [cycling] would be fun source material for comedy,” says the 38-year-old over the phone. “[Just] the look of it made us giggle. A lot of grown men in spandex.”
With even a passing familiarity with Andy Samberg’s work — from his numerous contributions to the very silly comedy trio Lonely Island, to his starring role in "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" — you’ll know exactly what to expect from his latest sports mockumentary,” “Tour de Pharmacy.”
Much like 2015's “7 Days in Hell” before it, the HBO TV movie pokes fun of a sport with both broad strokes and extremely specific references. But this time, it's a fictitious look at doping in competitive cycling, circa 1982. And it's flush with over-the-top performances from the likes of Samberg himself, Orlando Bloom, John Cena, Daveed Diggs and more.
A few days before the premiere, we talked to the very chill Samberg — who was preparing to binge drink Bud Light for Independence Day — about choosing competitive cycling over curling, Orlando Bloom’s chiseled bod and of course, “Game of Thrones” mania.
How soon after “7 Days in Hell” did you and writer Murray Miller decide to do another of these mockumentaries?
Pretty immediately. It dawned on us that if “7 Days in Hell” went well, we could do more of them. It did well enough! [Laughs.] It did pretty good. [Afterwards] we just started brainstorming different sports that we had a take on and cycling was one of them.
What made you choose cycling over something overtly silly, like curling?
That’s so funny, curling has come up! But cycling felt right. There is obviously a lot of stuff about PEDs (performance enhancing drugs) and all that, which we thought would be fun source material for comedy. But also there’s a long history of bizarre cheating in cycling that was making us laugh and it felt like a good place to do comedy.
Speaking of performance enhancing drugs, what was it like getting Lance Armstrong on to essentially make fun of himself?
It wasn’t that difficult. [Laughs.] Murray wrote the idea for him into the script because we were making a comedy about cycling and he’s still — whatever anyone thinks of him — the face of cycling. So we were like, “We can’t really do a comedy about cycling without even asking him.” So we gave it a shot, and he responded well to it. He got that the tone was completely ridiculous.
Orlando Bloom’s character, Juju Pepe is such a specific caricature, especially with that villainous, peroxide blonde goatee. How did you guys come up with him?
Murray created Juju Pepe solely from his mind. His character is an amalgamation of a lot of cyclists and stuff we thought was funny.
The blonde goatee. Sparkling golden. I don’t remember whose idea it was, I just remember us giggling indefinitely. Orlando kind of makes everything look good because he’s in incredible shape and cut from marble. [Laughs.]
You and Murray have done well having these Brits that people don’t really think of as funny — first Kit Harington in “7 Days in Hell,” now Orlando Bloom in “Tour de Pharmacy.”
It’s a dice roll for them and for us. But with Kit, I’m obsessed with “Thrones.” I sent him the script and was like, “Dude I think you’re awesome, would love for you to do this.”
[Then] he told me he used to do sketch and improv in college. And that when he would do comedy with his friends he always played the dim one. And sure enough he was so good at it. To the point where everyone was like, “Holy s—t, Kit Harington is funny!”
So you’re a “Game of Thrones” fan? How are you feeling about this upcoming season? It's coming back so soon.
It’s making me nervous. But also I will say I put my trust in those guys [David Benioff and D.B. Weiss]. The new trailer that just came out gave me full body chills of excitement. Like, f—k, it’s finally going to pay off!
“Tour de Pharmacy” premieres on HBO, July 8 at 10p.m.
Follow Rachael Vaughan Clemmons on Twitter — @rachaelclemz