Andy Samberg Breaks Caricature

2.15.2009

By Joshua David Stein

Halfway through writing one of his lauded digital shorts at the Saturday Night Live studio at 30 Rock the Thursday before it's supposed to air, Andy Samberg is ruffled in his raffish, lackadaisical way. It's already 9 p.m. and he's got all night to go. His hair is mussed, but that's to be expected. His style is slacker-cool (plaid work shirt, corduroys) except for a pair of new brown-and-pink argyle Gravis skate shoes.

'I'm the number 1 dandy-preppy-skate poseur,' he says happily, breaking into his million-dollar grin and settling in for an interview. Samberg has a lot to smile about. As the crown jewel of the strongest SNL cast in years, Samberg, 30, has an ardent and large following, a future of guaranteed-profitable films (see Ferrell, Will), and his good looks. But the thing he's got most -- and what makes you love him -- is laughter, huge skeins of it that unspool and fill up a room. And more than his laughter even, he's got the ability to make others -- me, you, the rest of the world -- laugh.

I Love You, Man, Samberg's second live-action feature (after Hot Rod), is, in his words, 'a dude-on-dude romantic story that straight guys can feel comfortable watching.' Written by John Hamburg (Meet the Parents), it stars Paul Rudd as Peter Klaven, a man on the verge of marriage. Concerned about her soon-to-be-husband's lack of male friends, his fianc'e, Zooey (The Office's Rashida Jones), encourages him to find some. Inexplicably bereft of the programmatic behavioral quirks that bring men together -- a love of football and talking about pussy -- Peter turns to his younger brother Robbie, played by Samberg, for advice. Robbie is a classic bro. He works at a gym, likes to give pounds (terrorist fist jabs!), and refers to men as dudes and stuff as shit, as in 'Dudes like shit like that.'

'Apropos to your magazine,' Samberg explains, 'he's gay.' And not just any type of gay, but a het hunter.

'My character knows men really well, and knows straight men really well, because he only fucks them,' says Samberg. As a scholar and lover of men, Robbie doles out advice on how to catch one. The word man-date is used a lot, and Peter goes on a number of them. Hilarity and high jinks promptly ensue. Many end in disaster, but one ends in a friendship with Sydney Fife, a bro-ish investor played by Jason Segel, which forms the crucible of the narrative.

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