The “Quasi” combo of cannabis and comedy

By Clara Faulkner

Coming from the comedy troupe that brought you “Super Troopers” and “Beerfest,”  Broken Lizard brings a new take on the 1996 film “Hunchback of Notre Dame” with their upcoming film “Quasi.”

The film, airing April 20 on Hulu, promises a hilarious and irreverent twist on the classic tale, with plenty of R rated surprises in store for audiences—and delivers just that.

The release date is deliberate, as April 20 is synonymous with marijuana and narcotic consumption across the nation. Broken Lizards have stated that their films are considered funniest under consumption of marijuana.

“Quasi” employs satirization to emphasize the performers’ unmistakable connection, making it a must-see for all comedy fans. Set in 13th century France, the plot is based on Victor Hugo’s film “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” The narrative of the film pivots from the original as it follows Steve Lemme’s Hunchback as he navigates life and becomes embroiled in a feud between the pontiff and the king.

The film is set to be a hit among fans of stoner comedies and those searching for a fresh take on a familiar story. Devoted fans of Broken Lizard’s previous work won’t want to miss this latest offering from the troupe, which is composed of actors Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, and Erik Stolhanske. Each member has their own distinct personality and comedic style, but they work together seamlessly to create a cohesive and hilarious ensemble.

The Broken Lizards have demonstrated their mastery in the field once more, and fans of “Super Troopers” and “Beerfest” will not be let down. One of the things that makes Broken Lizard stand out is their ability to blend different genres together. “Super Troopers” is a comedy that also has elements of a police procedural, while “Club Dread” is a horror-comedy that parodies slasher films. In addition to their films, the group has also produced several television shows and comedy specials, including the short-lived series “The Broken Lizard Show” and the Comedy Central special “Broken Lizard Stands Up.”

“Super Troopers,” released in 2001, is the group’s most iconic film. It follows a group of quirky state troopers who work in a small Vermont town and get into all sorts of shenanigans while on the job. The film is full of hilarious and memorable moments, including the famous “meow” scene in which one of the troopers repeatedly says “meow” during a traffic stop.

“Beerfest,” released in 2006, is a comedy about a group of American friends who travel to Germany to compete in an underground drinking competition. The film features several hilarious scenes involving drinking games and beer-related hijinks, and has become a cult favorite among fans of the group.

Broken Lizard’s films are typically filled with absurd scenarios, exaggerated characters, and a lot of physical comedy. While some viewers may find their humor offensive or crude, others appreciate the group’s willingness to push boundaries and take risks in their comedy. The audience is able to discern the crew’s distinctive salacious wit and incontestable relatability throughout the movie. “Quasi” is likely to elicit laughter from viewers throughout its entirety.

“[The Hunchback] spoke out of the side of his mouth.” Lemme said, “We would riff on this character and how we could make him a bigger loser, so we made him a hunchback.”

Lemme gave background on the idea of the film and added details to the narrative by spinning his interpretation of the hunchback. The character’s physical appearance of talking with the side of his mouth became a defining trait in the film, adding to the humor and absurdity of the story. Lemme’s creativity and collaboration with his troupe brought the character to life in a way that resonated throughout the film.

“He winds up being a puppet caught in the power struggle between the pope and the king, and then we made him a virgin on top of that.” Lemme said. “The movie unfolded after that.”

The movie creates a comical storm with archetypal variations on the original revered plotline. Director Kevin Heffernan discussed Broken Lizard’s strategy for adapting the narrative into a comedy and the team’s collaborative approach to coming up with outside-the-box concepts.

“When we were making the deal for this movie it was in the middle of the pandemic,” he said. “There was no theatrical.”

Their production is a new approach to comedy. The troupe is pushing the boundaries of traditional comedy and paving the way for a new era of humor through retelling classics. When queried about the versatility of the characters, the cast explained the process they employed to differentiate “Quasi” from their earlier films. Not only is the film’s original dialogue entertaining in itself, but the actors also excel in their respective roles. The duration of the film contains dialogue that the cast hopes the viewers find qutoable and can retell after the film is done.

“There’s a lot of quotables,” Heffernan said. “People love to throw quotes back at you and this movie has alot of those lines.”

The team appears to be well-prepared for the imminent success of “Quasi” on streaming platforms, as they have alluded to forthcoming projects. Troupe member Jay Chandrasekhar expounded on the benefits of collaborating with a consistent team over a prolonged period of time in the production of their films, and the consequential impact on their process for generating dialogue.

“We also wrote a movie about a war between Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny on a fight between the supremacy of the two,” Chandrasekhar said. “It’s a 200 million dollar film idea.”

When asked about directing future Broken Lizard films, Kevin Heffernan had no hesitations.

“Oh yeah,” he said. “I would love to. If they’re doing it, I’m in.”

If you’re a fan of off-beat comedy and enjoy movies with a lot of slapstick and irreverence, then you’ll enjoy the films produced by Broken Lizard. After the debut of “Quasi,” fans can expect the arrival of “Super Troopers 3,” an original adaptation of the highly-regarded sequel, and more proof of Broken Lizard’s bawdy comedic aptitude.