What happens when you get a group of beloved comedians together, throw them behind a camera lens, and say, "action!"? The result might look something like Sundance Film Festival 2016's Joshy , an almost entirely improvised comedy about a bachelor party with friends in Ojai, California. Starring Nick Kroll, Jenny Slate, Thomas Middleditch, Alex Ross Perry, Adam Pally, Brett Gleman and about a half dozen others, the Jeff Baena directed film is never lacking for laughs. When I met up with the cast at Sundance, we discussed bachelor parties, like the one featured in the film, and the group had a decidedly different take on the pre-marital tradition than their on-screen counterparts. "The perfect bachelorette party would be the one in which I don't have to go to," says Lauren Weedman, who plays Isadora, a sex worker the men hire during their weekend away.
"Anytime there's a whip that lights up, or someone yells 'woo!' I get uncomfortable. My friends aren't bachelorette party people. I've seen it in the movies and it always makes it look even worse," she says. "I know people go to see male strippers for bachelorette parties, but I wouldn't wanna watch people strip, I'd want to have sex with them. I'd rather have one on one time with the guy and pay to have sex with him," she says. I can't quite tell if she's joking.
Director Baena would also prefer to skip the party all together. "I generally dread bachelor parties if they're going to have any elements of illicit, sketchy behavior," he says. "I find it very fascinating sociologically, but I can't relate to it. I did go to one bachelor party. I'm from Miami, so the idea I had was to rent a boat and go to the Bahamas for the afternoon. Somehow it turned in to us just driving around on this party boat, and this kid I was in Webelos —Cub Scouts — with, was urging everyone that we needed to get a prostitute on the boat. We were like, 'Woah, dude, what is wrong with you?' And he was the only one married with kids."
"Most of my friends don't do that sort of thing," the director says. "We'll just go hiking, or take a boat out for the day, or something really G-rated." Perry is quick to jump in: "You dump the body of the stripper from the previous night, that's why you're out with the boat," he quips.
Perry himself was married just a few months ago, but he didn't have a bachelor party to celebrate. "Bachelor parties are an alien concept to me," he says. "We just married at City Hall."
Nick Kroll, who plays the bro-iest of the bros in the film, reasons that the types of bachelor and bachelorette parties men and women have vary depending on the age at which they wed. "You have the people who get married in their 20s, and then the people who get married in their 30s and 40s, and those bachelor parties and life experiences are quite different. My friends who have gotten married later in life, it's like a bunch of our friends will go to a nice house and cook big dinners and drink and party a bit. It's a much different version than when I was younger, and my friends were like, 'We're going to the Dominican Republic!'" he recalls. "The older you get, the more you know what you like and what you want, so you can choose to do the things that are right for you."
Gelman agrees. "You also realize as you grow older that one of the most dangerous things in life is to put too much expectation on one day. As you get older you have more of a desire to make every day great — if you are cool, like we are."
With all this negative talk surrounding the popular pre-marital tradition, is there any way to do the bachelor or bachelorette party right? "A perfect bachelor party is one that is co-ed," Gelman says. "I don't like to be around only guys for days. I like to have a mix," he says. "I like women a lot, and I can also feel very uncomfortable in a group of men. I can easily feel like the odd man out because I'm so sensitive."
"The idea of the co-ed bachelor party is an interesting one. Friends of ours from Upright Citizens Brigade had a husband and wife bachelor party and all their friends went to Vegas together, and I thought that sounded good," Kroll says. "Because the rest of your life is sharing it with your significant other and all of the friends that you have together. A co-ed party is better preparation. It's amazing to me that people used to have their bachelor parties the night before they got married. The idea of 'this is your last chance to...' is such a weird, fucked up concept."
Weedman jumps in: "And everybody cheats, so it's not your last chance. I've been divorced five times. Six actually, I think." She pauses: "Oh, I'm kidding!"
Images: American Zoetrope