Ari Shaffir on co-writing and starring in “InAPPropriate Comedy”

If you saw InAPPropriate Comedy on the big screen over the weekend, then perhaps you were the person I saw and heard laughing, well, inappropriately in the cinema.

The sketch comedy film grossed $156,414 in its opening weekend at the box office at 275 theaters nationwide, for an average of $569 per location. Not the worst-ever opening, but that’s like making bomb-ade out of a bomb.

You mean people didn’t clamor to see Oscar-winner Adrien Brody spew homoerotic dialogue as a cop named “Flirty Harry,” or Michelle Rodriguez and Rob Schneider review porn movies while a guy masturbates into a bucket to provide their grades, or black men “scaring” white people in their own version of “Jackass,” or Schneider playing horny psychologist to a woman describing her sexual problems “covered in nameless, faceless semen,” or Lindsay Lohan mimicking Marilyn Monroe’s sidewalk grate scene before shooting the paparazzi? Spoiler alert is right.

The film is the brainchild of director, executive producer and co-writer Vince Offer. You know him as the infomercial guy behind ShamWoW and the Slap Chop. But before he burst into your late-night insomniac fever dreams, Offer (born Offer Shlomi) was an aspiring comedic filmmaker who made The Underground Comedy Movie, another boundary-pushing, taste-defying sketch comedy film, in 1999.

Lohan shot her InAPPropriate footage for a planned sequel back in 2010.

It took three more years for this collection of sketches, stitched together by Offer himself in bookended footage as the holder of a tablet computer bouncing from app to app. Ken Pringle and Ari Shaffir are credited as co-writers of InAPPropriate Comedy, with Shaffir receiving first billing among the onscreen stars, playing a character he calls “The Amazing Racist.”

Shaffir is doing a Reddit IAmA today at 11 a.m. Pacific, 2 p.m. Eastern. Ask him anything? I already did. About his involvement with InAPPropriate Comedy. Since you likely didn’t see the film, here’s the official red-band trailer.

There’s a moment in the Free Boat Trip to Africa sketch in which you tell a “police officer” that it’s all “a hidden camera show” and “it’s a joke” but also that you didn’t have a film permit. And yet. I get the sense that even this was staged. What kind of balance were you looking for between an outright prank in your sketches (the “Mexican” at the gas station, the Asian drivers, the pedestrians on Venice Beach) vs. situational comedy that you could control? Did the experiences of Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Borat” (and to an extent, “Bruno”) impact your decision on that front?

“No, I like Sacha Baron Cohen a lot but I’ve been doing this since before he came to America and became aware of him. It’s always been a split of real and setup, although usually with people that were real until we told them that it was just a joke and then we recruited them to do a little extra so we can build a story or get me some comeuppance.”

I know you’re a co-writer on the movie. Did you have anything to do with the rest of the movie, or just your scenes/sketches?

“I had nothing to do with the rest of the movie. He just gave me co-writer credits because I wrote and riffed my parts.”

Here is Ari Shaffir’s first scene in the movie, as “The Amazing Racist.”

I’d seen Vince hanging around the Montreal Hyatt during Just For Laughs a couple of years ago, which led me to discovering his other comedy projects. So I’m not completely surprised by this movie. But how did you wind up working with him and Ken on it?

“He got in touch with me when I was on some little comedy tour called the Monsters of Comedy (October, 2010). Man, that was a crap tour. So fun, though. He talked to me on the phone when I was in San Fran and wanted the rights to the other Amazing Racist videos, which I don’t have. I only have the name. So he started talking about doing new ones and he had money to make them look good so, fuck it. To his credit, even though he didn’t always understand my sense of humor, he really let me be for the most part and just trusted me.”

How would you compare the movie to this year’s other “sketch comedy” film, Movie 43? Critics also weren’t kind to that film, despite of (or perhaps even more so because of?) it coming from the Farrelly brothers and other celebrity directors. Everyone mentions Kentucky Fried Movie, but even that wasn’t a hit as I recall (what I recall is seeing it on cable). How can you make a sketch comedy movie work on the big screen?

“I never saw Movie 43. Since I torrent all my TV I barely ever hear about shitty movies. I loved KFM but I saw it on VHS. I think if sketches were funny instead of corny, they’d have a chance. What do I know about how to make movies work?”

At least you have your own sketches that you can break out into individual videos, though, right? I saw one of them before seeing the full movie.

“Those will all be on the Internet soon. How can they not be? I was going into it knowing that would happen. He just financed some new videos for the people to enjoy.”

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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4 thoughts on “Ari Shaffir on co-writing and starring in “InAPPropriate Comedy”

  1. Cool ari are you that money-hungry you have to resort to this cheap, hate-fueled form of comedy? wait it has always been cheap

  2. I dont mind the shitty film, it makes it pretty clear its not taking itself seriously, but i was suprised ari was init. He’s usually a shit-ton funnier than this. Ive never seen his other ‘amazing racist’ skits, but damn, man.

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