GQ's Comedy Issue: A Behind-the-Scenes Interview
By Zach Dionne Posted Jul 13th 2010 03:47PM
GQ's Men of the Year Issue is slick and magnificent -- we're not arguing. But GQ's Comedy Issue is slick, magnificent and hilarious, and only improving every year. (Remember nude Brüno on the cover? Yeah, this one's even funnier. Trust us.) Packaged with Terry Richardson's inventive photo shoot of cover gents Paul Rudd, Tracy Morgan and Zach Galifianakis, the entire production was cultivated with comedy in mind.
Here, senior editor Dan Fierman -- who edited the issue and, yes, interviewed the ever-elusive Bill Murray face to face -- tells PopEater what went into the funniest magazine you'll read all year. Read on!
GQ's Comedy Issue is only a few years old, but it's pretty formidable. Did you raise the bar this year?
Well, for starters, it's the first time we've committed to making the whole issue -- or almost all of it -- about comedy, from the table of contents to the spine of the magazine to the fashion spreads to the masthead. Seriously, Easter eggs are everywhere. But more than that, we got lucky. Lucky to get a major sit down with Bill Murray. Lucky to get great writers like Wells Tower to agree to work in a pot shop for us. Lucky to have landed people as amazing and varied as Aziz Ansari, Mel Brooks, Louis C.K., Joan Rivers, Donald Glover, Gary Shandling, five of the greatest comedy directors of all time and, of course, our three cover subjects: Paul Rudd, Zach Galifianakis and Tracy Morgan. When you can trick that kind of talent into being funny for you, the rest is easy.
Wow. What was the editing and reporting like?
Largely, it was an excuse to e-mail with people that I think are amazing, like Patton Oswalt, Emma Stone, Louis C.K. and Dan Harmon [creator of the very, very under-appreciated 'Community']. But when I wasn't being shameless, sitting across from Bill Murray was basically the most terrifying, wonderful thing I have ever done in my career. The man is an American treasure and I still can't believe I met him. Candid as hell, too. People should pick up the issue just to hear what he has to say about 'Seinfeld' and why he made 'Garfield.'
One would hope -- that 'Garfield' flick demands explanation. I've noticed a lot of times comedians are ON or OFF, and interviewing them isn't always an ON situation. How did you keep it all funny in print?
That was the hardest part. My solution? Just steal their jokes. We raided Joan Rivers' joke library -- yes, she has one, they're printed on thousands and thousands 3 X 5 index cards -- and just ran the cards with commentary. And I visited the set of 'Parks and Recreation' and shamelessly stole things off the walls of the writers' room. We ran a list of potential names for Amy Poehler's character -- but folks can look for plenty of other goodies on GQ.com.
Plus you had Tracy Morgan in there, and dude is never not completely ON. Didn't he cry in an earlier GQ interview you conducted?
I think Tracy Morgan crying in an interview is like the sun rising in the east. You can pretty much go to the bank with that.
And how long can Louis C.K. actually go without cursing in an interview?
Put it this way: Any attempt to recreate Louis C.K.'s actual syntax for your family website would get you fired and me killed.
If you wouldn't mind, rate these statements from your mag's cover in order of truthiness: Al Gore is funny, GQ has released 134 Comedy Issues, purchasing this issue makes you funnier.
No. 1: Al Gore is funny. Making fun of Al Gore, bachelor, even funnier.
No. 2: Purchasing this issue makes you funnier. At least funnier than if you bought the Economist or InStyle
No. 17: This is our 134th Comedy Issue.
GQ's Comedy Issue is on NYC and LA newsstands on July 13, nationwide on July 20th. For more coverage, visit GQ.com.
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