Episode 07: The Business of Being Funny

Filmmaker Bobby Farrelly ’77 talks comedy, hit films and returning to Andover for the first time in 40 years.

What makes you laugh? Is it the observational stand-up of Louis C.K.? Sketches on Saturday Night Live? Mark Maron’s podcast that you always listen to first before EQ? You see, comedy is subjective. What makes one person laugh probably won’t make another person laugh, and humor is rarely an acquired taste. It’s not like you turn thirty and suddenly like Seinfeld. Well, maybe that’s a bad example. The point is, you either get the joke or you don’t.

In the early nineties, The Farrelly Brothers struck gold with a string of blockbusters that seemed to make everyone laugh. Dumb and Dumber. There’s Something About Mary. Kingpin. Outside Providence. Shallow Hal. Fever Pitch. You couldn’t escape their slapstick premises and earnest storytelling that made them the two of the most successful writers and directors in Hollywood. They’ve worked with comic icons like Bill Murray, Jim Carrey, Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Alec Baldwin and Jimmy Fallon, but as Bobby Farrelly, Class of 1977 recently recounted at a Phillips Academy All-School Meeting, the brothers had no real movie-making aspirations growing up, and sort of fell into the trade after a few failed ventures in Los Angeles.

Upon his first visit back to Andover in forty years, Bobby sat down with Neil Evans to talk the current state of comedy, how to be funny in today’s politically correct climate and what he learned from being kicked out of Andover.

Farrelly