Five People Who Make Larry Charles Laugh

The director of The Dictator tells us his favorite funny people

The director of The Dictator tells us his favorite funny people

Photo: Melinda Sue Gordon/2012 Paramount Pictures | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

Even if you don’t know Larry Charles by name, you know his work. The man wrote for Seinfeld for years, served as a producer for a good chunk of Curb Your Enthusiasm, and directed both Borat and Bruno. He’s back at it with Sacha Baron Cohen again in The Dictator, the first major comedy of the summer. Since Charles has spent so much of his career making other people laugh, we thought we’d ask him who tickles his funny bone. (We mean that in the most literal sense — these people are ticklers. You’ve been warned.) Check out his picks below.

Larry David

Well obviously I’m a big Larry David fan, he is I think one of the most important and funny people working today.

Bill Maher

Bill Maher is a friend, and I also think he is one of the most important comedy minds working today.

The Cast of Bridesmaids

I thought Bridesmaids was great, it was also a startling movie for me, and it really made me laugh. And anytime I see a comedy that I’m kind of jealous of, that’s usually a good sign. So that was something that really struck me and made me laugh.

Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert

Some of the best comedy on TV right now is non-fiction comedy, like Jon Stewart’s show and Colbert’s show. I think you’re going to find you are going to laugh out loud to those shows on a pretty regular basis.  That’s very impressive and very difficult to do.

The Cast of New Girl

I think that the Zooey Deschanel show New Girl has really interesting unique idiosyncratic vibe, I think there are some interesting things in that comedy.

Photo: Melinda Sue Gordon/2012 Paramount Pictures | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

On Filming in New York City

New York is a challenge to film in, but by the same token, that push and pull also leads to a certain energy that is very palpable and that you feel on screen and you feel while you’re shooting it also. So it’s a double edged sword with New York. You get the most amazing energy but you get the most logistical challenges. And that actually feeds the energy, ironically.

Anything Goes in the Name of Comedy

I never worry we’re going too far. First of all, if we do wind up going too far, whatever that is, it’s impossible to know beforehand. Secondly you have editing, so you always have control over it later on. But if you don’t get it on film, then you don’t have an option to edit it, or use it. So I will usually go for anything if I think it has some value, and that’s the key thing. Not so much the subject matter, but does it have value? Are we making the right satirical point? Is it worth doing?

Photo: Melinda Sue Gordon/2012 Paramount Pictures | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

On the Megan Fox and Edward Norton Cameos

Both of them are fans of our work, and are very adventurous people. Megan I think was looking to do something fun, something outside her comfort zone, and also kind of upend her image a little bit. Shake things up. And she wound up being fantastic, and she really just had a good time. It was fun working with her. She was very game for all the crazy things we wanted to do with her. And Ed Norton is, again, an amazing actor, amazing range, doesn’t get a chance to do comedy too often. Loves the stuff that we’ve done in the past, and what it represents on all the different levels. He’s a very political person as well as a very funny person, and a smart person, and he was like “You know, I’d love to do something.” We had this subplot that was kind of being developed and he seemed perfect for it and was really into it and we had a great time.

On Future Projects with Sacha Baron Cohen

It’s like we’ve just been through a war almost. It’s almost like when you’re done fighting you kind of want to take a moment and retreat and decompress and be with your loved ones. You don’t really wanna be thinking about the next war. I think we’re both amazed, I’m certainly amazed, that we’ve done these three movies together. I never thought we would do one movie together, so I’m amazed we’ve done three great movies together. And I’m totally happy with that, and I have no expectations for the future whatsoever. I feel very grateful and blessed that I have the opportunity to do what I’ve done so far.   

The Dictator is in theaters now!