Bishop White, a stuffy little room on the second floor of Houston Hall with portraits of old white dudes in spectacles on the walls, is an unlikely place to hang out with three of the funniest people I’ve ever met. But nonetheless, here I am, sitting across from Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone and Andy Samberg, who collectively make up the comedy/ fake rapping trio “The Lonely Island.”
If you didn’t know who one of them was, you might mistake him for a college student. Akiva is sporting a white T–shirt, Jorma is in a Penn baseball cap (!) and a navy sweater and Andy is wearing a nondescript blue button up. They’re all rocking jeans, almost imperceptible facial hair and seemingly identical nerdy–cute glasses. Any one of them could pass for that guy in your Ethics recitation whose attention you’ve been trying to get all semester.
But taken together, The Lonely Island boys are a force. They light up, play off each other’s jokes and make you wonder if you’ll ever vibe with anyone the way they do with each other. Their chemistry is undeniable, which sort of makes sense when you realize that they’ve been friends since middle school who are sort of living the dream: fucking around on Snapchat, making (award winning) music together and collaborating on a feature film slated to hit theaters on June 3.
Here’s what the three of them had to say about college, “frapping”, and their film entitled Popstar: Never Stop Stopping.
Street: So, tell me about the movie. What inspired it?
Jorma Taccone: We’ve been calling it a pop–umentary, based on the pop docs that have been popping up all over the place over the last, uh…
Akiva Schaffer: [laughs] Popping up.
Jorma: Over the last ten years or so.
Andy Samberg: We were eating pop rocks.
Jorma: We were eating pop rocks and then watching a documentary.
Akiva: Eating corn pops.
Jorma: And then we were like, let’s put the two of these together.
Andy: Sippin’ on pop.
Street: I’m pretty sure we call it soda
Andy: In California everyone calls it pop. (Ed. Note: this is unequivocally false.)
Jorma: I feel like we didn’t answer the question. You answer it Akiva.
Akiva: What was the question?
Street: What inspired the movie?
Akiva: Oh what inspired it? I mean, you know, we’ve been making music for years now and we were always trying to think of a musical to do and to be honest we had thrown out a couple of ideas that were more musical musicals and this was one that kept bubbling back up. Partially because all those Katy Perry Part of Me and Justin Bieber’s Never Say Never…
Jorma: One Direction…
Akiva: And Andy’s such a strong singer too, we really wanted to showcase his voice [laughs].
Andy: [deadpans] Yeah that was the main thing like, how can we get me singing more because that’s something that I’m definitely good at.
Akiva: And then one day I had a meeting, just a general meeting, with Judd Apatow and he brought up out of nowhere, just like, how about one of those pop–docs? Because you know he has kids and he loves documentaries. And I was like oh my god we’ve already had that idea, and then so, we were all like, let’s do that.
Jorma: And independent of that we’re all fans of pop music we’re all fans of those documentaries, we'd seen them all before deciding to even do this for fun. I mean, we've seen a lot more since.
Street: Does the movie have a specific appeal to, if I’m going to use a buzzword, millennials and if I'm not, college students?
Jorma: I certainly hope so.
Andy: I think it does. I mean, there’s a lot of new social media stuff in there that I feel like maybe people of a certain age don’t dabble in as much. But even that changed over the course of making the movie, we sort of adjusted and added more snapchat and that kind of stuff.
Street: I’m following you guys on snapchat now.
Akiva: How do you feel about it?
Jorma: What do you think of our stories?
Akiva: We’re putting in some real work.
Street: I can tell. Is @TLIboys your first foray into snapchat?
Akiva: Yeah but we’ve been on there for like six months or something.
Jorma: But that’s late though.
Street: That’s a little late.
Akiva: Well, I’ll be honest. I was an early adopter in personal use, but the stories were only invented…
Street: A couple years ago?
Akiva: I don’t think so, they didn’t exist when we started shooting the movie. (Ed. Note: Stories were added to snapchat in October 2013, so like…)
Andy: Akiva’s brother works there so he would know.
Akiva. I do know. And he was one of the first employees so.
Jorma: We had a whole screening for snapchat employees. We’re plugged in.
Akiva: Don’t try to age us out of Snapchat [laughs]. You won’t win that one. Twitter and instagram, though... I don’t get Twitter. But snapchat is the one I like.
Street: Why do you like Snapchat?
Akiva: I like it because it’s not a two way conversation—it’s one way. And that it’s in the moment, everyone has to play by the same rules.
Jorma: It’s more creative.
Akiva: Like on Instagram anyone can post a video. It can be like, super well edited, like, from a movie, it can be anything. On Snapchat you know there’s like, an honesty to it. Because everyone has to use the same tools. It levels it.
Jorma: I like that everyone feels like their life is a reality show, too. With stories.
Street: Yeah, but people do stories just to show how cool their lives are.
Akiva: I mean that's why we’re doing it.
Andy: We have super cool lives [laughs].
Jorma: We’re doing it just to try and make monay.
Akiva: Green, cold cash. Print that.
Jorma: Yeah, you spell that, M-O-N-A-Y, right? Monay?
Street: So it’s not M-O-N-E-T?
Jorma: You could do it the French way. If you want to. Make that Monet.
Akiva: Super highbrow.
Street: Did you get a vibe from Penn students?
Andy: Did we get a vibe? I would say nice.
Jorma: They seem to like us a lot. But I guess we probably met the ones that like us the most. Because they were the ones that showed up.
Akiva: They seemed intelligent.
Andy: There were a lot of hugs. More hugs than we were even expecting.
Jorma: Yeah we got more hugs this time.
Andy: We did make a song called Hugs.
Jorma: Yeah so maybe that prompted it.
Street: Did you get any cheek kisses? That’s a big thing here.
Jorma: Um, no.
Akiva: One girl tried to though. We were positioned in the wrong place though, because we had a table in front of us so our heads were all sideways.
Jorma: Wait, why is that a thing here?
Street: There’s like a sort of pseudo–European thing that’s swept Penn in the last couple years, and suddenly everyone’s double cheek kissing and ordering flat whites.
Jorma: Did they let in more European kids?
Akiva: They’re drinking Flat Whites? That’s not even European that’s like, Australian.
Jorma: Did they let in a bunch of frenchies?
Street: Do you know how many frat boys show up to Halloween in the dick in a box thing just because of you guys?
Jorma: We have a lot of good costumes for slightly lazy kids.
Akiva: It’s an unfortunate byproduct. But they also want girls thinking about their dicks, so it's ‘like, yeah it’s in there. I’m gonna have a whole night of conversations about my dick.’
Andy: We should probably apologize to any girl or boy who’s been harassed by a dude in a dick in a box costume. It certainly was not our intent when we wrote it.
Street: Do you have advice for anyone who wants to go into entertainment or fake rapping?
Andy: Frapping. Thank you. We call it frapping. We coined that.
Jorma: I’ve never heard anyone else say it.
Andy: No, why would they need to? Because we’re the only ones who frap.
Jorma: We’re the best damn frappers in the world.
Akiva: We encourage anyone to try frapping.
Jorma: But good luck because we will take you down [laughs].
Street: So no advice then, just like, don’t try it?
Jorma: Yes. No! No, just make stuff.
Akiva: Go out and make stuff and don’t wait for anyone else.
Jorma: The rule, that we realized applies from amateur all the way up through people who are at the highest end is just start making stuff and don’t wait for permission. And don’t wait for the money to do it.
Akiva: We started working on this movie before it was fully greenlit or whatever. You just gotta be like this is what we're doing and go do it.
Andy: And if you have good jokes and you’re telling a good story it could be shot literally on your phone and it’ll be entertaining.
Interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.