Judah Friedlander is the kind of guy who seems to pop up everywhere. You see him on the television, at the movies or in a magazine and say, "Hey, it's that guy with the hat again." You may have seen him in "Meet the Parents" ("you could get a whole bunch of Mumms"), American Splendor, Wet Hot American Summer, Maxim Magazine, VH1's Best Week Ever, comedy central, NBC, a Dave Matthews Band video or, in my case, a comedy club. You may not know his name, but you definitely know his face, his look. How can you help it? He's a hard guy to forget.
His appearance is by all accounts extremely personal. He is most often seen wearing a trucker hat reading "'World Champion,' sporting shaggy hair and untamed sideburns. In the greater mix of New York City he could pass for any number of strange people you see on the street. However, not everyone in New York has been in seventeen movies and thirty-nine TV shows. While some comedians find their humor in subtle word play or clever observations, Friedlander finds his in gross exaggeration; a fact that was not lost during our interview. And when you get him going, it's hard to slow him down.
Streeter Seidell: Ashton Kutcher gets a lot of credit for starting the trucker hat craze, does that bother you?
Judah Friedlander: Look, you can't blame Ashton for wanting to be like me. I mean, what else does the guy have? You gotta give him something, right?
SS: One of your hats says "'World Champion,' could you tell me what you're world champion of?
JF: You know, the world. You name it, I've done it. I'm world champion, I get tons of chicks. That's what happens when you're world champion.
SS: Could you tell me about some of your accomplishments in sports.
JF: In baseball I broke the homerun record. I was playing for the Mets I played with them for about a week then quit because they sucked I hit the ball all the way into the upper deck of Yankee stadium. It was the first inter-borough, inter-stadium homerun ever. The umpire didn't know what to do so he just let the whole team run around the bases. The pitcher shot himself in the face" then I fucked his wife on home plate. They gave me the homerun record trophy but I'm not big into trophies so I gave it to a retarded kid in the front row" then I fucked his mom too.
SS: I hear you're pretty good at martial arts too.
JF: Pretty good?
SS: Did I get some bad information?
JF: I'm fucking incredible" I used to be a ninja. You don't know this shit? C'mon man, do your research.
SS: Since you're so good with the ladies, can you give our readers any advice?
JF: Ya know, people ask me that and it's frustrating because it just happens naturally. When you're the world champ it just happens.
SS: Should men try to model themselves on you?
JF: Oh definitely, I look to myself as a role model, so why not? Just don't be a nerd and, if the girls aren't putting out, forget them. It's never happened to me but if she's not feeling it there's definitely something wrong with her. I've actually got a couple chicks coming over soon so could we hurry this up?
I got the distinct feeling that Judah wasn't answering all of my questions truthfully. I mean, the inter-stadium homerun I can believe, but a ninja? My suspicions were confirmed when he asked me, mid-story, "Do you want any serious answers?" I hadn't thought about it but it seemed like a good idea. Slowly his answers turned into half truths then, finally, just plain truth" well, kind of.
SS: Is The Dave Matthews Band as cool as all their fans like to think they are?
JF: They're really not. I was hanging out with them one night when we were filming that video and we went to some bar. They couldn't get any chicks. It was all me. I was throwing them extras. It was sad.
SS: What's up with you and Ben Stiller? You've been in four movies with him.
JF: I was just going to talk about that. I'm really sick of Ben Stiller being in all of my movies. It's like every time I do a movie this guy shows up. He has no idea what he's doing. I've given him a break, ya know, I've let him be in four of my movies and he hasn't done anything for me.
SS: When you were cast in "Curb Your Enthusiasm" playing a retarded guy, did you take that as an insult or a compliment?
JF: I took it as a compliment because retarded people are funny. Two of the guys were really retarded though. I was on there for two days and they don't have a script. I went to the director and he's like, "'I'm nervous about tomorrow.' So I ask why and he goes, "'Well, tomorrow we're going to have real retarded guys in the scene.' I had no idea. The retarded guys were really nice but, ya know, they were retarded. They didn't know what was going on. I thought they were gonna think I was an asshole for, like, acting retarded but acting normal when they cut. They actually didn't get that I was going in and out of character. They didn't even notice so it was all cool.
SS: When you did "American Splendor" was it strange to all of a sudden be considered an actor as opposed to a comedic actor?
JF: It weird because a lot of them still don't take me seriously because I'll just show up in jeans to an awards show or something. They're kind of like, "'Ew, what are you doing here.' But then they realize that I'm the guy from "American Splendor" and they start talking all nice to me.
For his work playing the ultra-nerd Toby in "American Splendor," Judah was named one of the best performers of 2003 by The New York Times Magazine and was one of USA Today's picks for best supporting actor. But, with so many of his accomplishments, Judah shrugs this off with a modest, "that was cool." I suppose that that best sums up Friedlander as a person; a guy who knows he has done very well but would rather exaggerate it beyond belief, even mock it than brag about it. With six movies coming soon, recurring role on Best Week Ever and an intensive standup schedule, Judah Friedlander could brag all he wants to. But, chances are he'll just want to talk about the time he scored a penalty kick in a soccer game" with his head.
Check out Judah's website, judahfriedlander.com for all his standup and movie information. Also, you can catch him on "Project Greenlight" and "Best Week Ever." And, if that's not enough for you, see Judah flex his acting skills in "The Darwin Awards," "Southern Belles" and "Duane Hopwood," all due out soon.