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Wise asses

By CHRIS BRAIOTTA  |  September 19, 2007

Really? Was that a method thing?
Yeah, just to see if it helped at all. I lived in the room I lived in during high school and lost all the privacy like I lost in high school. The one thing I learned that really started to help me was that when you’re in high school, you go home and you feel kind of trapped in your house, and then you go to school and you get to be with your friends. I’d come home and I’d get a lot of “How was work? What’d you do today?” And then going to work, I was like, “Oh, I get to hang out with my friends.” And going to work was like going to class, just shooting the scenes and everything. And then in between scenes, like in between classes, you’re hanging out, just BSing.

Most comedies are about idiots and assholes. But, Michael, you’re never stupid or mean, just awkward. Was that intentional?
It’s just the parts that I got, I guess. The part I played on Arrested Development was written that way, and I was fortunate enough to get the part. And Superbad, this character was very passive — less so than Arrested Development — I guess it was more of a normal high-school kid who didn’t have any specific traits of awkwardness or anything, but it did have a fair amount of that, how everyone does in high school. Most of the kids I grew up with, anyway.

So you were never thinking of how you were going to build your comic voice?
MC No, I didn’t. I don’t remember thinking about that.
JH I don’t think anyone does that. I think you do what you find funny, and what the character calls for. I do agree with the point that comedy for the most part now is about the dumbest guy in the room, when the comedies that I love — like Woody Allen movies and Albert Brooks and James L. Brooks movies — are about the smartest person. I always loved that kind of comedy, where you’re seeing the person who’s funny because they’re so smart.

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