As a Hollywood multihyphenate, Andy Samberg reads — and rejects — a lot of scripts. But about 30 pages into “Palm Springs,” he started thinking that the answer was going to be a rare yes.
“I get sent things all the time, and sometimes I get sent really good things,” Samberg said. “But I don’t very often get sent very good things that I think I would actually be good in, and would want to spend two-plus years working on, which is what it basically means when you take on a movie as a producer.”
In the romantic comedy, Samberg plays Nyles, a devil-may-care wedding guest with a secret who, dressed in a Hawaiian shirt and a knowing smirk, saves the reception with a toast for the ages. But when a hookup with Sarah (Cristin Milioti), the maid of honor, goes awry, the consequences surprise them both.
With “Palm Springs,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” the Golden Globes, a Bash Brothers “visual poem” and the first Lonely Island tour stuffing his schedule, 2019 was Samberg’s busiest stretch since his “Saturday Night Live” days. So he was content at home earlier this year when the pandemic locked him in for real. Calling from Los Angeles, where he lives with his wife, the indie musician Joanna Newsom, and their 3-year-old daughter, Samberg elaborated on the 10 things that help each day from feeling like the one before it.
These are edited excerpts from the conversation.
1. “Crip Camp”
There was a camp on the East Coast that people with disabilities were sent to as kids and teens in the ’70s, and it was magical for a lot of them. The documentary chronicles them with this incredible footage, and follows their paths as they get older and learn how they can and cannot acclimate into society. A lot of it ends up in Berkeley, where I grew up. So that was really fun, not only because the story was cool, but also to see footage of that era.
I remember I watched the first episode, and I was like, “I don’t know what this show is.” And then, by the end of it, I was like, “That might have been one of the best seasons of TV I’ve ever watched.” It was just so creative and so inspired and so bizarre, while also going straight at some of the social issues in our country surrounding race and policing — even though it was taking place in an alternate universe with goofy jokes.
3. New Music
“It Is What It Is” by Thundercat: I’d been a fan of Thundercat already, then I met him at a party last year, and he was just such a treat as a dude. He told me: “I’m working on an album right now. You should check it out when it comes out.” So I was like, “You got it, Thundercat.”
And sure enough, it’s fantastic. I throw it on when I’m wanting to get creative. And “Dragonball Durag” is just a jam, and I love the video. As a connoisseur of comedy music, I can say, “I may be covered in cat hair, but I still smell good” is one of the funnier lines this year in any song.
“RTJ4” by Run the Jewels: They’re just so dope. It’s really, really spot-on protest music, and also I listen to it while I’m vacuuming the house. So it’s multipurpose in that way.
“Women in Music Pt. III” by Haim: They’re our buddies. But I would have said I love the record anyway. They’re clearly pushing their boundaries. That one, less vacuuming, more dancing with my kid.
Oh, my goodness. That is one of the strangest and most dense shows that I’ve ever watched. There’s something exciting about the fact that a lot of people are watching “Dark” in German with subtitles. I feel like there’s so much less resistance to something like that now, hopefully, in our country. It speaks to the Reddit generation of television, where people want to hatch conspiracy theories and guess what things mean.
5. “Queer Eye”
It’s one of the most life-affirming shows, for me anyhow. It’s that rare thing that’s fun and funny, and you want to see the makeover aspect of it. But they say it right in the title: It’s so much deeper. They find people that you are immediately in there with and rooting for. There’s such an emphasis on kindness and thoughtfulness and self-reflection and growth. And some of the scenes with Karamo [Brown], where he’s talking people through their personal struggles — I just feel like if you really do pour your energy into something to try and improve it and make it more meaningful, it can actually work.
I find myself flipping through it a lot and getting whisked away. There’s a surrealism that I love, and I don’t know how Charles E. Burchfield would feel about this, but it takes me to the place of the covers of the old “Lord of the Rings” books. There’s something supernatural and fantastical that really opens my brain when I look at it.
It blew me away. And I feel like it’s a good movie for men to understand energetically how when they show up it can really change things. It’s not a spoiler to say this. You get lulled into this amazing space of there being no men for a long time in the movie, then a random guy does show up. He’s a nothing character; he’s there to do an errand. He’s not being a jerk or being weird. But him just sitting there eating some slop, you’re like: “Ugh, what’s this guy doing here? Get him out of here. He’s ruining the vibe.”
8. Older Music
“All for You” by E.T. Mensah & the Tempos: It’s a genre that’s sometimes called Highlife — more traditional music from Ghana, mixed with “Western” instruments that had become available in that region at the time. I listen to it front-to-back a lot. It makes everything feel happy and crackly.
“The Nutcracker” by Tchaikovsky: My daughter has been obsessed with “The Nutcracker” since over a year ago, and we’re still listening to it. It’s her “Frozen.” And I’ll say this: “The Nutcracker” has some bangers.
A Tribe Called Quest’s “The Low End Theory” vs. “Midnight Marauders”: My buddy Chester cold-texted me: “Midnight Marauders or Low End Theory?” It started as a joke. It was Father’s Day, and I was like, “I get to listen to whatever I want to,” and I put on “Low End Theory,” and started blasting it in the house. Then he texted me that and I’ve been listening to both a lot, trying to decide if I can choose. And I really can’t. So it’s more just to say it’s crazy how good those two albums are, and they still hold up.
At the end of the day it is nice, if you can, to have something to drink as long as it’s not too much. And one of the drinks that we found when scouring recipes was a Bourbon Bramble, which is really delicious. I’ve been told I have to give credit to the modifications of my wife. What she did was she doubled the bourbon and amped up the lemon. And those two things turned it from something that I think maybe you could argue is a little too sweet into something that we have been finding to be euphoric.
Any time I can talk about Chez Panisse, I like to, because it’s Berkeley pride and also because it’s probably my favorite restaurant on Earth. And Alice Waters is a hero of mine. This was given to us after the birth of our daughter because it takes the fundamentals of the farm-to-table idea — eating whatever is most fresh, letting the ingredients do the talking for your food — and applies it to really simple dishes that you can make for and with kids. We’ve done corn muffins, carrot and parsley salad, and I think she maybe thinks she’s doing more than she is. We’re helping her more than she realizes, but we’re not about to tell her that that’s the case. We just want her to feel inspired and emboldened to do it at all, and feel like she can make things. It’s pretty damn cute.