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After Hours Interviews: “Super Troopers” Actor Kevin Heffernan

The Broken Lizard comedian talks pre-show steaks, losing audiences to Kevin Hart, and how he’d protect Obama from Ebola.

When Super Troopers came out in 2001, its particular brand of slapstick slacker humor propelled it to instant classic status. Thirteen years later, it remains eminently quotable—and responsible for many of those memorable lines is Kevin Heffernan, who played mustachioed liter’a cola fan Farva in the film. Heffernan is one of the original members of the Broken Lizard comedy troupe, which started as a college sketch group and went on to make Super Troopers, as well as Beerfest and Club Dread. He’s also appeared in several other movies and TV shows, including Veep, Workaholics, and How I Met Your Mother (as Ted Mosby’s porn-star alter-ego).

Heffernan is in town this weekend to perform three shows at Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse with fellow Broken Lizard member Steve Lemme, with whom he has a podcast, a web series, and a Netflix special. We caught Heffernan by phone as he was museum-hopping with his kids to ask about Super Troopers 2, weird fan interactions, and his memories of DC.

Tell me a bit about your show.

It’s a two-man show I do with Steve Lemme. A couple years ago we started doing some standup shows; we wanted to mix it up, and we knew there were fans of our movies out there that we didn’t interact with a whole lot, so it was fun to go out. So we just started doing standup shows, and we’d never really done it before, so it was a lot of fun. We don’t do it full-time, but we’ll go out and do these shows. We each do a traditional set of standup, and then there’s some audience participation stuff, we’ll bring people out of crowd, and then also we’ll tell stories from the makings of our movies, like behind-the-scenes stories.

What would be surprising about the show for someone who’s never seen it before?

The thing people are surprised about a lot of times is that we do this. A lot of people know us from the movies, but they don’t know us from standup, so I think doing standup is a different animal for people who are fans of ours. We’re trying to make it accessible to everybody, so if you’re not a huge fan of the movies, we still do tons of stuff that’s not related to the movies.

You and Steve have worked together on so many different things—how does that affect how you go about putting a show together?

We’ve definitely learned what works between us. It’s mostly us making fun of each other. Knowing each other for so long, we’ve gotten very good at making fun of each other, which I think is the big part of a show.

How do you prepare for a show?

Steve and I will normally go eat a steak, and we’ll sit at dinner and run through our show. It’s kind of funny because waiters will walk up and they’re not sure what they’ve walked in on—it’ll be just the two of us, it looks like we’re a couple arguing at the dinner table.

Do you know where you’re going to get that steak in DC?

Oh, I don’t know yet; we need to decide where to go. We use it as an excuse to get away from our kids.

How old are they?

I have an 11-year-old, a 9, and a 6. My wife is here too—she’s a doctor, and she’s at a conference here, so we tied it all together. I do some shows, she goes to the conference, and then we go monument sight-seeing. It’s all the stuff you’re used to living here.

Do you remember the worst show you’ve ever done?

We’ve had a couple of those [laughs]. I remember one time we did a show at Hobart College [in New York]; it was part of a freshman orientation. So it was like a series of orientation lectures and then us—a sexual harassment lecture, then a couple other lectures, and then we were gonna come up and tell jokes. And it didn’t quite go over well.

Do you think people just didn’t realize it was okay to laugh at that point after all the sexual harassment talk?

I think people were just tired of it. They wanted to leave.

Then we had another show in Tampa, a double bill with Kevin Hart, and I don’t know what the reason was, but he went first. So it was in a college gym—there were probably 4,000 kids there—and Kevin did his set and finished, and then I’d say about 3,000 of the people stood up and walked out. And so we went on and did our show, and the sound of 3,000 people walking out of an arena is deafening. We laugh about that to this day, having 3,000 people walk out on you.

How did the rest of the show go?

I think it was okay—we took the last thousand people in this giant arena and made them come as close to the stage as they could get.

They were probably all pretty stoked about that.

They were happy. You could tell that the people left were fans.

What would you say has been your biggest professional accomplishment thus far?

Probably getting Super Troopers made. That was certainly the turning point. We’d spent many years trying to get it made, and we had a feeling it would be successful; it was just a matter of getting it done. So finally we got it done, and brought it to the Sundance Film Festival and sold it, and I think that was the big moment for us, when things kind of shifted.

And are the rumors of a Super Troopers sequel true?

It’s gonna happen. I think the rumors are all swirling around when. We’ve written the written script and have the deal set with Fox Studios, so now it’s just a matter of putting the rest of the pieces together. The plan is hopefully in early 2015—if all goes according to plan, my hope is we’ll do it then. But we’re still putting all the pieces together, there’s still a few question marks, but everyone’s really gung-ho to get it done.

What’s the line people quote at you the most when they see you on the street?

Oh, yeah. People yell—and that’s the funny thing about our shows, is that’s how we get heckled. People will yell out not, “You suck,” but they’ll yell quotes from our movies. But the ones I get are—wait, I don’t know what’s printable—but they’ll call me a chicken f**ker. I get that a lot. A LOT. And then I do a joke in there about my favorite restaurant Shenanigans, and people will throw that at me a lot. And a lot of people will walk up with their cell phone and ask me to leave their outgoing voicemail message.

Do you do it when they ask?

Yeah, why not, right?

What’s the weirdest fan interaction you’ve ever had?

We were just talking about one the other day. We did a show in Minneapolis, and we had a lot of friends who came, and they all came backstage. So it was a group of people, friends of friends, whatever. And after show we all went out, we went to three, four, different bars, catching up. So it got down to end of night, maybe 1 or 2 in the morning, and there were six or seven of us left, and one was a guy that we didn’t really know. So at that point we said, “Who are you friends with?” And he’s like, “I’m just a guy who snuck backstage during the show,” and he hung out with us for four hours as if he was a friend of one of these other people. Usually you’ll get a guy who’ll do that and call his buddies, and be like “I’m at this bar, come hang out,” but this guy went all the way to the end of the night by himself. He seemed like a normal guy; I guess he just wanted to hang out by himself.

Do you guys still keep in touch?

We send each other Christmas cards.

Are you big on interacting with fans over social media?

We try. You have to be diligent; you have to be faithful to keeping that up. I think Lemme and I go in waves, and then it breaks down after a while. But we try. It’s interesting because in last three, four, five years that we’ve been doing standup shows, it’s changed—you used to go into a town and do local morning radio shows, and that was the way to reach the crowd, and now it’s definitely social media, so you really do have to try to get yourself out there.

Do you remember the first time you visited DC?

I came a bunch of times as a kid. I grew up in Connecticut, and we have friends of family who live in Virginia, so I came when I was probably seven or eight. We did it all—the monuments, the Smithsonian, all that stuff. I loved it. I thought it was great. We would just go around and take funny pictures with my parents, posing at different statues.

Is this the first time for your kids?

It is—we live in California now, so we were like, “Ah, let’s bring ’em!” And now they’re lovin’ it. We’re at Air and Space as we speak, so they’re liking that.

Who’s your favorite fictional president?

I definitely like Michael Douglas in American President. Wait, that’s boring. Who was the president in that Mike Judge movie, where everyone gets really dumb? It was Terry Crews, right?

You mean Idiocracy?

Idiocracy, right. Wasn’t it Terry Crews? It was a big, scary black dude.

That sounds like Terry Crews. [Ed. note: It was.] So why American President?

I just really like that movie. I’m a Rob Reiner fan.

That movie was interesting because it’s strange to think of a sitting President going on dates.

Yeah, he was a dog. He was dating people in the White House. He was a single dad!

If you were going to meet the real President, what’s one piece of advice you’d give him?

Well, we went by the White House yesterday, and I thought maybe we’d catch a glimpse of him. I heard he’s staying in town to deal with the Ebola crisis—so my advice would be for him to wear gloves.

Kevin Heffernan and Steve Lemme perform Friday and Saturday at Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse. Tickets ($25) are available online.