Seth Green has an unimpeachable comedy résumé. From his clueless aspiring rapper in 1998’s Can’t Hardly Wait to the hilariously myopic characters he voices on Robot Chicken and Family Guy, Green mines belly laughs from Millennial solipsism better than anyone else. Not to mention that he kicked off his career with one of the all-time great performances by a kid actor: as a 12-year-old avatar for Woody Allen in 1987’s Radio Days.
This past Sunday, Robot Chicken, which Green created with Matthew Senreich, came
roaring squawking back after a seven month hiatus, with skits that imagined Footloose’s Ren McCormack (voiced by Kevin Bacon himself) teaching the Peanuts kids how to dance, and what would happen if Green Lantern were deprived of hands and forced to wear his ring on another appendage (guess which one!). “Our goal is not to hurt people’s feelings,” Green says. “Our goal is to have fun with how silly we all are. I’m just delighted by human folly.”
That deft balance between outrageous surrealism and laugh-with-you humanism can be tough to pull off, so what does Green turn to for inspiration when he’s stuck? In honor of EW’s 2011 Comedy Issue, he’s ready to share. Here are his five all-time favorite movie comedies:
Raising Arizona (1987) — “Raising Arizona changed the way I thought about film. I had never seen anything shot like that, that was told like that, that felt that way emotionally and had such insane, out-of-this-world kind of laughs. That movie changed the way I thought about filmmaking. I can watch that movie at any point, at any time, and I’m just pulled in to how magical it is.”
Coming to America (1988) — “How amazing a balance is that, where you have things as outrageous as ‘sexual chocolate’ and things as heartwarming as an immigrant’s plight to find true love? That movie is so outrageous but never too outlandish that you ever feel disconnected from the love story.”
Airplane! (1980) — “It’s so ridiculous. When the one captain shows up, he’s just encountering a line of people whether it’s the Krishnas or the Jews for Jesus, and he’s karate-chopping, punching, and kicking those people out of the way. Jerry Zucker said about it, ‘Never did a movie have more opportunity to offend more people, and yet everyone seemed to get the joke.’ A brilliant movie.”
Life of Brian (1979) — “I love Monty Python. I don’t even know how to explain how much of a consistent inspiration Monty Python has been in my life and my work, and that movie was one of the first full-length things that I saw where something that seemed so sketch-based told a real story, and every bit of it was funny. They didn’t sacrifice any of their ridiculousness, any bit of their silliness in favor of telling a story. They just seamlessly blended two styles together.”
Defending Your Life (1991) — “Defending Your Life I saw six times in the theater. It was another movie that changed the way I felt about how I was living my life. As silly as that sounds, the whole movie is about living your life without fear, or at least leaning into the fear that you feel and not letting it hold you back in life. And it’s just such a sweetly, simply told story, that is unbelievably funny and really human.”
Are any of Green’s favorites some of your own?