I think a lot of the instincts you have doing comedy are really the same for doing drama, in that it`s essentially about listening. The way I approach comedy, is you have to commit to everything as if it`s a dramatic role, meaning you play it straight.
Saturday Night Live is such a comedy boot camp in a way, because you get to work with so many different people who come in to host the show and you get thrown into so many situations and learn how to think on your feet, so filmmaking actually feels slow, in a good way.
All you have in comedy, in general, is just going with your instincts. You can only hope that other people think that what you think is funny is funny. I don`t have an answer but I just try to plough straight ahead.
A lot of people have gotten into comedy because of certain influences in their lives or events that were painful, and I really have wracked my brain to figure it out. I pretty much have had a normal childhood. Maybe it was too normal.
I`d much rather be in a comedy. In my view, comedy wins out in the long run. I`m not sure I`m a good enough actor to play real tragedy, so I bring a comic element to most things as my answer to the world`s problems. I`m not a clown, though. I love goofing around, but I don`t feel the need to act the clown in private - I do it at work, that`s where I exorcise my demons. Although I confess that I do sometimes put together outfits to annoy my wife.
Often times I`m confronted with a quote that I don`t remember saying. So, on one hand it`s very flattering, it is just so surreal.
It doesn`t really exist, this Frat Pack. We run into each other on occasions and we all like each other`s films, I guess, but there isn`t some big funny restaurant or bar where we all hang out. At least, if there is, they haven`t invited me. I wasn`t in You, Me and Dupree, Luke`s last movie, and none of them was in Talladega Nights with me and actually, nobody gives a sh*t.
I have only been funny about seventy four per cent of the time. Yes I think that is right. Seventy-four per cent of the time.
James Caan told me at the end of filming `Elf` that he had been waiting through the whole film for me to be funny - and I never was.
I saw a news story recently that said I`m 6` 4". I`m creeping up, like in the high school football programs where you give yourself 15 more pounds. In three years I want to be 6` 5" in stories. And I`m gonna do the opposite of these kids like LeBron James who are coming out of high school and going into the NBA. I`m gonna be the first 36-year-old white guy who tries to make it in the NBA.
(On running in the Boston Marathon) I actually had people running up next to me with beer bongs and offering me shots. All of this crazy stuff. And no, I didn`t take any of it.
(on George W. Bush) I had a couple of opportunities to go and meet him, and I declined, partly out of comedic purposes, because when I was on the show ("Saturday Night Live" (1975)) at the time, it didn`t make sense to really meet the people that you play, for fear of them influencing you. And then the other side of it is, from a political standpoint, I don`t want to meet that guy.
(On his role as a basketball player in `Semi-Pro`) I love the fact that this is historically accurate and funny all at the same time. You can parody the sport and you can parody the era, but at the same time you have a built-in arc for the audience as they watch this team try to attain the lofty goal of fourth place.
I`ve got no dark secrets, I wasn`t beaten up, my parents were kind to me and there was a low crime rate where we lived. Maybe that`s where the comedy comes from, as some sort of reaction to the safe, boring suburbs. Although, I gotta say, I never had any resentment of the place. I loved the suburbs.
I always forced myself to do crazy things in public. In college I would push an overhead projector across campus with my pants just low enough to show my butt.
It was a gradual rise that started on SNL. I went from being the guy who did the cheer-leading thing, to the guy who plays the president to, `Hey, that`s Will Ferrell!` I saw that happen then in terms of films, and it was really Old School (2003) that got me a real lead part. It was a scary thing when I left SNL (in 2003), but then Old School came out, and then Elf happened the same year, and now Talledega Nights.
(On being a comic): I attribute it to growing up in safe, boring suburbia in California. I wasn`t beaten up by anyone, there was a really low crime rate. There was really nothing to do except think of funny things.
There`s just something about yelling that`s funny to me.
I often don`t think a lot about the ramifications of anything I do.
I`m not really an exhibitionist. I`m drawn to the outrageous stuff because it`s fun, not because it`s some deep compulsion. I`m no tortured, anger-stoked, deeply neurotic comic. Just a pretty low-key normal guy. A, "Hey, the glass is half-full", kind of a guy. But please keep it quiet, or I may never work again.
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