STACK met with the Broken Lizard comedy troupe to get the lowdown on Super Troopers 2 – the belated sequel to their 2001 cult comedy.
If Cheech and Chong were the godfathers of weed, then director Jay Chandrasekhar and his four college buddies became close relatives when their breakout stoner comedy Super Troopers won SXSW’s Audience Award in 2001.
Starring Chandrasekhar and his Colgate University pals and co-writers – Kevin Heffernan, Erik Stolhanske, Paul Soter and Steve Lemme – the movie, about five stoner Vermont state troopers, was a box office hit and a perennial comedy favourite on home entertainment formats.
Christening their five-man comedy troupe ‘Broken Lizard’ in college, they were swept along by Super Troopers’ cult triumph. Heralded as the new voice of stoner buffoonery, Chandrasekhar found himself at the helm of The Dukes of Hazzard (2005), casting his buddies alongside Johnny Knoxville and Jessica Simpson.
While still united today under their Broken Lizard comedy banner – or “Drunken Lizard” as Fox Searchlight would rename them following a tour Down Under – the five friends went on to enjoy individual success in TV, film and performance.
“We’ve been friends since we were teenagers, before we had any ambition, so it was always real; a case of, ‘Oh we’re friends, let’s make a movie’ rather than, ‘We’re in a movie together so let’s be friends’,” says Chandrasekhar of the troupe’s enduring bond.
Although initially reluctant to do a Super Troopers sequel, the group, now rapidly approaching 50 and with growing families, decided to give their alter ego state troopers one last hurrah.
“We worried we may have missed the boat but we looked at it like: If Law & Order can make 250 episodes of their show, then we’re just doing one more, just another cop show,” reasons Chandrasekhar.
“As students our idols were Monty Python and they never made the same thing twice, so that was another reason we didn’t go down the sequel route earlier,” adds Stolhanske.
Embarking on a crowd-funding campaign, Fox Searchlight agreed to release the film if they could raise US$2 million – ultimately raising that figure in one day, with a total of US$4.6 million donated directly by their fans.
“We had no idea how it would pan out,” says Heffernan. “It could have been really embarrassing, but luckily the fans came out for us.”
Wasting no time, they quickly scripted a sequel, which sees the five troopers toiling in menial labour, offered a chance at reinstatement in return for establishing a highway patrol station on a disputed border between the US and Canada.
There’s also a lot of nudity, a 1300-pound rabid bear, and a bunch of potshots against Canadians.
“I think Canadians are very similar to Australians,” says Lemme. “They’re self-deprecating and enjoy taking the piss out of themselves. They’re like Americans but without all our hang-ups.”