"Saturday Night Live" cast members Andy Samberg and Fred Armisen are the stars of the latest "SNL" digital short, which is a love song to Iran president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Right: Samberg croons, Armisen plays Ahmadinejad). The digital short has become an Internet sensation (sorry, you'll have to find it yourself), and they were on the show this morning to talk about it.
After their interview with Matt and Meredith, I sat down with Samberg and Armisen for a Q&A session. Here's our conversation:
Q: So, Ahmadinejad...What did you think of his visit in general? Did you think Columbia should have invited him to speak?
Fred Armisen: I thought that...I don't want to say anything political because it ends up on a blog and it seems like I'm making a statement about it. I have a feeling about it. I'll just say that I think that his speech should have just spoken for itself. I don't know that they needed someone to come out and go, "This guy is petty." He was such a lunatic that I would have gotten that right away.
Andy Samberg: I thought it would have been rad if he actually just put a soap box in Washington Square Park, stand on it and just say whatever he wanted... He actually might be the musical guest on "SNL" next week.
Q: Performing on what?
Fred Armisen: Bass guitar. He's a really good bass guitarist.
Andy Samberg: Just bass solos. Upright.
Q: You've heard his work before?
Andy Samberg: Oh yeah, he does a lot of cool jazz fusion stuff. A lot of solo bass albums. He shreds. Right?
Fred Armisen: He shreds. And pops.
Andy Samberg: He shreds and pops.
Q: What do you think this digital short will do for U.S.-Iran relations?
Fred Armisen: I just hope I don't get shot.
Andy Samberg: Yeah, I hope it doesn't hurt U.S.-Iran relations. Certainly, we're not anyone to think that we're gonna be taking anyone on or make a difference on this front. We just think Ahmadinejad is an interesting looking dude, and Fred's impression was spot-on. We thought we should do something on him. But obviously, with all of this, we just want better relations between the U.S. and Iran.
Fred Armisen: Do you think they watch in Iran? I doubt it, right?
Andy Samberg: I have this dream of him watching the video and chuckling, "Okay, you got me! SAMBERG!" I feel like maybe he's a secret Monty Python fan or something.
Fred Armisen: Yeah, that's not the jacket I want.
Andy Samberg: Or "SNL" at least. "My favorite is the cheerleaders!"
Fred Armisen: "Phil Hartman? He's the best."
Andy Samberg: "But it hasn't been the same since the first season."
Q: In these digital shorts, you've had Justin Timberlake, Natalie Portman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Adam Levine...so who's next?
Andy Samberg: Clinton? Thinking about asking Clinton.
Fred Armisen: That would be a good one.
Andy Samberg: Play some sax.
Fred Armisen: That would be pretty great.
Andy Samberg: I said it in jest, but now I think we're getting a little too big for our britches.
Q: He was just here a couple weeks ago.
Andy Samberg: Oh yeah, because of his book.
Q: Yeah, so maybe he'll do it. Help him sell some more books.
Fred Armisen: That would be the top, wouldn't it?
Andy Samberg: Yeah. Unless you could get a time machine and go back in time to shoot a digital short with JFK.
Q: Andy, you referenced Flock of Seagulls, you did a send-up of Color Me Badd...what are you trying to tell us about your musical tastes?
Andy Samberg: That I have really good musical tastes.
Fred Armisen: He does have really good musical tastes!
Andy Samberg: Oh, Fred!
Fred Armisen: What, I'm only being honest!
Andy Samberg: You're being so sweet right now!
Fred Armisen: Sorry! I have really terrible musical tastes.
Q: Like what?
Fred Armisen: A lot of religious stuff. Christian rock. A lot of bands, like marching bands. New Polish stuff. Anything new, contemporary Polish stuff.
Andy Samberg: Not the old Polish crap.
Fred Armisen: No, not the old stuff. Only new pop star ladies.
Andy Samberg: Poland is the new Montreal, I think they're saying.
Q: What is it about these digital shorts that you find so appealing...that gets you going?
Fred Armisen: We make some MON-ey! We make some MON-ey!
Andy Samberg: We actually don't make any money from these.
Fred Armisen: What?
Andy Samberg: I like them because they're edited to hide the fact that I'm a terrible performer.
Fred Armisen: I like the names of them..."digital shorts"...makes me fell like I'm in the future.
Andy Samberg: Yeah, Fred's all about the future. That format is what I did with my friends before we got to the show, so it's what we're most comfortable with and what we have the most experience with. So it was sort of a natural thing for us to start doing when we got here. We've just been very fortunate that it's gone so well so far. Knock on wood!
Fred Armisen: I'm just lucky to have caught a ride on this one.
Q: Last question is an unrelated one for you, Andy. Ian McShane, your co-star in Hot Rod this past summer. He was here a few days ago but didn't have time to sit down for an interview with me. I'm a big "Deadwood" fan so I'm very curious about him...Is he as much of a badass in real life as he is on "Deadwood"?
Andy Samberg: He's nicer in person, obviously, because he's about the meanest guy in the world in "Deadwood," though he's not without his charms. But I will say this about McShane. In the movie we did, there are a lot of fight scenes. Before a shot, he would be very mellow, you know, "How are you, love?" But as soon as they yelled, "Action!" he would get that fire in his eyes, and you realized there is something deep down in that guy that is terrifying. But in a beautiful way. When I'd see that, I'd think to myself, "Oh, this scene is going to be so awesome! It's crazy!"
Fred Armisen: Have you seen him in Sexy Beast?
Fred Armisen: Dude, you gotta see him in that! It's unbelievable in that movie. He's terrifying. It's worse than "Deadwood"!
Fred Armisen: I'm telling you, it's frightening.
Andy Samberg: In real life, he's actually quite lovely and charming. But don't piss him off.