There's a very Los Angeles sensibility to the film — is there a difference between West Coast and East Coast comedy?
There probably is. I never did stand-up in New York City, I'm from Long Island, so I did some stand up on Long Island, then I moved to Los Angeles. I wouldn't know how to capture what the New York club scene is. But a lot of those people, they start in New York and then they move to LA. Ray Romano and Adam, they all started in the New York clubs. A lot of people develop in New York, and then they move to LA to try to get discovered.
Peanut butter gets prominent mention in the film, first as an object in a raunchy joke and then in a game sweetly played by the family in the kitchen with dogs.
Sometimes those connections happen while you're working. I wanted to have a scene where you saw Leslie playing with the kids and Adam joins in and, for the first time in the whole movie, you see Adam laugh. You've never seen him laugh, and you say, "Well this is the life he doesn't have. This is what he missed out on." And so, then you realize, "Oh, he can make this joke here." You don't really think about it that intellectually, but you know it makes sense. But the scene was more about the simple moments in life, like putting peanut butter behind your ear and letting the dog lick it, and getting your kids to laugh. There's a lot more fun in that than in performing, getting laughs, and having sex with a stranger after the show.
Which of the two peanut-butter examples is truer to who you are?
Well, my kids and I, we will put peanut butter on our ears and let the dog come in and lick it. Family amusement. It's a good, solid, low-priced way to find amusement.
When you made Knocked Up, did you hear any criticism about it being part of a right-wing cultural movement, because she kept the baby?
I think anytime — I always knew people would debate it. I think people project all their political issues onto movies, but the filmmakers aren't really thinking about that. They're just thinking, "I want to make a movie about two people who have a baby and decide to get to know each other." The story really is about two strangers trying to decide if they ever could be a couple. I can't tell that story if she has an abortion. So that's why she doesn't have an abortion. I hope I'm not right-wing — I've certainly given too much money to Obama to be called right-wing. I want my money from Obama back! I believe in a woman's right to choose, obviously, but it also doesn't mean that that is the choice that I would make. I think everyone should make that decision for themselves. But that happens, and it happens in this movie. People read into things. It's funny, this movie is a great litmus-test movie. Some people see it as very hopeful, some people see it as very dark. But your own world view will be projected onto this story.