Interview with Adam DeVine and Jake Szymanski

Photograph by Mia Zanzucchi
Photograph by Mia Zanzucchi

Chaos and hilarity ensued at the Rock, of all places, when director Jake Szymanski and comedian and actor Adam DeVine visited Northwestern Wednesday.

Szymanksi, who graduated from the School of Communication in 2004, just finished work on his upcoming film Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, in which DeVine co-starred with Zac Efron. The story involves two brothers who need to find dates for their sister’s wedding to keep them in line. However, the women they recruit to accompany them (Aubrey Plaza and Anna Kendrick), end up causing more trouble than they had hoped for.

During an hour-long public Q & A in Harris Hall, Szymanski talked about NSTV, of which he was once the director: how small the group was, and how it shaped him as a writer and as a filmmaker. He also talked about the rest of his career, from being the first in-house director of comedy video website “Funny or Die” in 2007 to directing episodes of SNL, John Mulaney: New in Town and the HBO special 7 Days in Hell.

DeVine, probably best known for his role in the Pitch Perfect franchise and the co-creator and co-star of the TV series Workaholics, talked about his and Syzmanski’s common sense of humor, cast dynamics during the film and getting food poisoning on set.

But before all that, we had a chance to interview both of them at the Rock, in the spirit of Northwestern tradition, we suppose. They told us about the film, DeVine demonstrated his scream for us and we played fuck, marry, kill. We’ve never had so much fun at the Rock, needless to say.

NBN: What’s up! Adam Devan! Jake Shih Tzu! How’s it going?

DeVine: It’s not goin’ well for me. I’ve got a little upset tummy right now.

NBN: I can sympathize with that.

DeVine: You got a little tummyache?

NBN: Yeah.

Szymanski: You guys are really powering through to make this interview!

NBN: So, Adam, first. How do you choose what scream belongs in what context?

Szymanski: These are good questions.

DeVine: My scream – I have one scream. And it’s more of a squeal. So that’s the only one I have, so I use that mostly.

NBN: Can you do a demonstration of that?

DeVine:screams

NBN: And Jake, how do you guide and helm such insanity in the film?

Szymanski: I’m actually surprised of his answer. I thought it was more of an Eskimo – 70 words for snow/70 words for different types of screams thing so I was definitely trying to modulate.

DeVine: Oh, you think I have a modulation?

Szymanski: Yeah, I’m definitely throwing it out there. It definitely is pure insanity. You really can’t control it at a certain point. You just gotta try to move it in directions.

DeVine: I’m a tornado of emotions. Real highs and lows. HIGHS AND LOWS.

NBN: This is for Jake. How does it feel to be back on campus after shooting a big, mainstream movie?

DeVine: And I’m out.

Szymanski: Fantastic. I haven’t been back on campus in a couple years. I love it here. It’s great. It’s gorgeous. Go ‘Cats!

DeVine: Bullshit answer! Pandering! Pandering!

Szymanski: When did this table get installed?

NBN: I don’t know.

DeVine: Oh, don’t put it on the table.

Szymanski: The table’s throwing me off!

DeVine: That was a bad answer. That was a bad answer.

NBN: We’re gonna do a Speed Round now, which is very exciting. There are no actual rules, other than answer the question. You each have one –

DeVine: 6-and-a-half inches.

NBN: Okay, wow. We’ll start with Jake and then move onto Adam. Jake, what dorm did you live at at Northwestern?

Szymanski: Plex!

NBN: What was your favorite class at Northwestern?

Szymanski: Uhh… Religion and Film.

NBN: I took that class last quarter!

DeVine: That’s a fun class. Let’s give it up for that class!

NBN: What moment was the highlight of your NU experience?

DeVine: Don’t think, just say it!

Szymanski: Uhhhhh…hosting Dance Marathon!

NBN: Alright Adam, Meisner or Stanislavski?

DeVine: Meisner.

NBN: FMK: Aubrey Plaze, Anna Kendrick, Zac Efron.

DeVine: Uhhh…Fuck Aubrey, marry Anna, kill Zac. I don’t think I could! He’s a golden god. You’d think I’d say fuck Zac, but…

NBN: Adam, self-perception theory states that one’s attitudes are impacted by their behavior. Or something like that, I only skimmed the Wikipedia page. How does playing characters described as stupid impact your psyche?

DeVine: I relish in that. I’m like, “Yeah, you have to take what you’re known for and really jam it down people’s throats.”

Szymanski: He didn’t know he was playing stupid characters until just now.

DeVine: Wait a minute! I’m a fun doctor! I got my M.D. in partying!

NBN: One of the main tenets of Buddhism is Dukkha, or suffering. How does suffering and Buddhism play into the film and what is the film trying to say?

DeVine: Jake, go ahead and take this one.

Szymanski: Yeah, well with Dukkha specifically.

DeVine: Yeah, the Dukkha.

Szymanski: I mean, this whole movie is about your character’s suffering!

DeVine: It’s about my Dukkha.

Szymanski: You know, pain plus time equals comedy. Isn’t that what they say?

DeVine: Something plus time equals comedy.

Szymanski: So if you get math with Buddhism, you got it.

NBN: Do you have any advice to young filmmakers and young comedians?

Szymanski: Yeah, my advice is make stuff. Keep making stuff and get it out there.

DeVine: Kind of the same thing. If you are a stand-up comedian, you should be trying to do stand-up comedy every night. And if you are an actor, you should be trying to act in as many things as possible. Even if it’s stupid. Even if you read it and are like, “This is dumb!” Because the more you’ll do it, the better you’ll get.

Szymanski: Actually, I’m gonna revise mine. Just…give up now.

DeVine: Yeah, just stop.

Szymanski: Yeah, I don’t like the competition.

DeVine: I don’t want any competition.

 

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