Nick Stoller’s brand of comedy is a specific kind - comedy that comes from pain. It is well represented in his Guest DJ set as he shares some hilarious yet cringe-worthy songs and stories from his youth, as well as the track that inspired his latest film, “Get Him to the Greek,” which he wrote and directed. The film, which stars comedian Russell Brand, is a spin off from Nick’s directorial debut, “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” The movie is out June 4.
For More: www.gethimtothegreek.net
RC: Hey this is Raul Campos from KCRW and I’m here with screenwriter and director Nick Stoller. He is best known for directing the hit comedy “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and is preparing to release his second feature, “Get Him to the Greek.” We’re going to be playing excerpts of songs that have inspired him over the years as part of KCRW’s Guest DJ Project. Nick, welcome to the studios here, what’d you bring in for us?
NS: As a writer of comedy, I have an interest in a specific kind of comedy, which is comedy that comes from pain. Ideally, when you watch a movie that I’ve done, you’re either laughing or covering your eyes because that’s something that’s too horrible that’s happened to you in the past. So basically, I’ve picked five songs, two of which are tied to personal stories of mine that were particularly both, I think, funny but painful in retrospect.
RC: Well, we should get into the first one- C+C Music Factory. This is one of my favorites of all time. I remember playing this so much when it first came out. It’s one of the, I guess, club anthems from back in the day. Why C+C Music Factory?
NS: Well, I was a big club kid. No, I wasn’t. (both laugh) No comedy writer was a big club kid.
So I went to a boarding school in New Hampshire and St. Paul’s School has a radio station. And I, in ninth grade, I had no friends, so I really wanted to DJ at the radio station. That was my goal, was to DJ. So I bugged them and bugged them and bugged them until they finally let me DJ and gave me a morning slot. I kind of thought of myself as having no friends and that no one in the dorm, especially at that time of day, that no one in the dorm would be listening. I went with my five CD’s that I owned, one of which was C+C Music Factory, turned on all the equipment, put in C+C Music Factory and said, ‘Next up, we’re gonna play C plus C Music Factory, “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now).’”
Song: C+C Music Factory’s “Gonna Make You Sweat”
NS: I came back to my dorm and it turned out everyone in my dorm had listened to that broadcast and all mercilessly made fun of me for calling it “C plus C Music Factory.” So it at once was a gratifying experience, because it turned out that I actually did have friends, but it also was incredibly horrible and painful because for the rest of the year I was the C plus C Music Factory Guy.
I mean, they use a plus! There’s a plus! Why would they do that? Why would they put a plus on the cd?
RC: That was C+C Music Factory, “Gonna Make You Sweat.” What’s the next one that we’re gonna get into?
NS: I’d also want to say to everyone who just listened to that, you’re welcome. You’re welcome.
So the next one, okay that was high school, that was one period. Then I went to college. I was dating my high school girlfriend long distance in my freshman year of college. One of my roommates in college had a high school girlfriend as well, who he was dating long distance. So we would commiserate. I think this was one of our first nights at our first week at school. We were talking about our high school girlfriends and how we missed them so much and how, you know, our hearts were broken. So, he and I decided that the manly thing to do would be to have a sleepover in his room and he would play the song that he and his high school girlfriend danced to at their prom. So I pulled my mattress into his room, he put on this song, and we both cried in our beds. He’s like, lying in his bed, I’m on the floor, and we both wept to Erasure’s “Always.”
Song: Erasure’s “Always”
RC: I gotta revert to the line from the movie, were they sad tissues or happy tissues?
NS: They were sad tissues, thank god. It wasn’t that kind of situation. It was not a happy tissue situation. Happy tissues you do on your own time.
RC: So, the tune ‘Always,’ was that the song that you two danced to or…
NS: No, that was the song that my college roommate danced to at his prom. It was an introduction for me to Erasure, to the song ‘Always,’ and to Southern California, in a way. And we both just cried and listened to the whole thing. We had other roommates who were outside of the room, probably in the common room wondering what we were doing in there. And he’s now married to his high school sweetheart, which is kind of amazing. I am not.
RC: That was Erasure. “Always,” the tune selected here by our guest DJ for the Guest DJ Project at KCRW.com- Mr. Nick Stoller’s in the house. So far so good man, how you doing? You alright?
NS: Oh I’m good, yeah, yeah.
RC: Why don’t we change the vibe a little bit and let’s get into this next one. Magnetic Fields, “All My Little Words.” Why this one?
NS: Stephen Merritt and his bands -- especially The Magnetic Fields, and really all of his bands, The 6ths and Future Bible Heroes -- I feel like he does with songs what I aspire to do with movies, which is to write songs that are both touching and hilarious. And I think this song is just beautiful, but also when you listen to the lyrics, the guy who’s singing it is incredibly pathetic. And is trying desperately to get this girl who he knows there’s no chance he can get with. It really perfectly encapsulates the pathetic-ness that especially the male species can achieve. And that I have certainly experienced as a youngster, and still do sometimes.
Song: The Magnetic Fields’ “All My Little Words”
RC: That was Magnetic Fields, “All My Little Words.” The next song that we’re going to get into, a tune by Pulp. Why “Common People?”
NS: It’s one of my favorite songs. I humbly think it’s one of the best songs ever written. It tells an amazing story and it’s what I listened to over and over and over again while I was writing the script to “Get Him to The Greek.” So, it was a real inspiration for that character and the story and just trying to catch the energy of it.
I actually really wanted to use it in our opening titles but we couldn’t for two reasons, one, we ended up going with all original songs and secondly, the song has a long build up, so in terms of music editing, it’s very hard to edit. You would need essentially a four minute opening credit sequence, which is very long. (laughs)
The first time I heard it I felt --I don’t have a really great story or thing to go with it -- but when I heard it, it just felt like the kind of song I’d been waiting to hear for my whole life in a way. I grew up, obviously, with all the new wave that was in the John Hughes movies and that kind of thing and this was such a great song. So yeah, I remember hearing it during college at home.
RC: Let’s check it out. Pulp’s “Common People” right here on KCRW.com.
Song: Pulp’s “Common People”
RC: Four out of five, stellar so far. What’s the fifth one that we’re going to get into.
NS: I just love this song. I think this is just the most romantic song ever written. It’s Os Mutantes’ “Baby” and it’s the song that my wife and I fell in love to. We actually wanted to play it at our wedding but the band couldn’t play it. They didn’t know it, they couldn’t play it. They just had their 10-song list. But I just love this song. I think it’s such a romantic song. I grew up in Miami and so, obviously, this is Brazilian, but the kind of Spanish influence of it makes a very pretty song and it feels kind of mysterious. It’s talking about swimming pools and the teeth of my friend but then it’s all about this girl. I think it’s a very beautiful song.
RC: Alright, that was Os Mutantes’ “Baby.” Five great tunes selected by our guest DJ, Mr. Nick Stoller. Thank you very much for coming through
NS: Thank you for having me.
RC: For a complete track listing and to find these songs online go to KCRW.com/guestdjproject.
Russ T. Alsobrook