Robert DeNiro and Zac Effron star in the new comedy “Dirty Grandpa,” so I talked to Adam Pally.
Pally plays the role of Cousin Nick in the movie, which also features Julianne Hough, Aubrey Plaza and one of my favorite all-time interviews, Mr. Dermot Mulroney.
The comic actor has a long resume, which includes roles on “The Mindy Project” and “Iron Man 3.” Pally was nice enough to give me a few minutes on Thursday as he makes the rounds to promote the new movie, which opens next Friday.
Mac Engel: Was it intimidating to do a movie with Robert DeNiro?
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Adam Pally: Yeah, but that’s why you do it. I wanted to be involved and to be able to work with him before I died.
ME: Was the experience what you thought it would be?
AP: It wasn’t surprising. The most surprising thing is how professional he is, how normal he is and that he acts like just another actor. He puts you at ease in making sure that you are OK, and that he is OK, and that it’s all OK. That is all you can ask for.
Aubrey Plaza, on the other hand, I will never work with her again.
ME: That bad? Constant odor?
AP: It’s her hair. Her hair has a natural dread. And there are all of these flies buzzing around it. It’s a tough thing for a co-worker and I don’t think I could do that again.
ME: Do you tell your agent to avoid such projects in the future?
AP: I’ve got a life’s too short and it starts and ends with Aubrey Plaza.
ME: Everybody loves comedies – why is this genre so tough to get right?
AP: Because it’s subjective. Different things are funny to different people all the time. Humor is not like sadness in that way. If you are not laughing, you are telling somebody you do not think it’s funny. I just feel like I talked myself into a hole and I don’t remember your question.
ME: That’s nice. Why are comedies so hard to get right?
AP: Oh, yeah, right. I don’t think they are hard to nail. I think we are at a point where there is such amazing comedy for every different type of person. I wouldn’t say there is a broad, sweeping comedy like a ‘Star Wars.’ Comedy does not work that way.
ME: What is a funny movie to you, other than Bad Grandpa?
AP: It’s Dirty Grandpa.
ME: Oh. Sorry. I got busted. Yes – I meant Dirty Grandpa, other than that what do you think are funny movies?
AP: There are all sorts of things I find funny. I loved Portlandia. I also loved this video of my daughter falling off a stool – it’s a wide range.
ME: When will the Academy Awards finally recognize funny movies?
AP: I think Amy Schumer deserved an Academy Award nomination and didn’t get it because it’s a comedy. They do sometimes honor stuff; Woody Allen happens to be a favorite. But – who cares? Who gives a crap? No one is doing it for that. Your movie is hopefully funny and your work is hopefully is funny and the award means nothing. It literally means nothing.
That being said, I love the Academy and it would be an honor to be invited.
ME: You worked with Key and Peele, who in an interview with Time Magazine said they hoped for a day that everybody is fair game for humor without the fear of hurting feelings. That the context of a joke will trump all. Do you think that will happen?
AP: I would hope we are getting closer to that. I think a lot of the responsibility goes to the person making the joke and not the person receiving it. If you are making the joke with good intention and not to degrade or put down but just to observe and get a laugh then I think it doesn’t matter. You have to own it.
ME: Who is hotter – Zac Effron or Julianne Hough?
AP: They are both equally the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. It’s like asking what makes you cry – dawn or dusk?
ME: Is it depressing how good looking they are?
ME: You’re in Hollywood with all of the pretty people, don’t you just look at some of these people and think, ‘Man – I’m just not that.’
AP: First of all, I don’t appreciate that question at all. And I don’t appreciate your tone and your candor, sir. I am one of the pretty people.
ME: You won the Powerball lotto of looks?
AP: Yes. I am the Most Beautiful Jew ever.
ME: What are the dumbest questions you’ve ever taken from journalists?
AP: You are talking to the wrong actor. The journalists I’ve talked to over the last five years are actually well informed, smart and sweet and ask questions that I would ask. There was one time this journalist asked me the first questions were about ‘The New Girl.’ I had to explain to the journalist I was not on ‘The New Girl.’ That was tough moment for that guy.
ME: Where does this interview rank among the interviews you’ve done – first or second?
AP: Why are you so insecure? Why do you need my approval? You are doing great. You’re not the best. Are you the worst? You’re close. Honestly, this was great – this is up there with my top 150 interviews.