MOTW: Broken Lizard Comedy Group

Photo Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Formed at Colgate University in 1990, the Broken Lizard comedy group consists of five members. In addition to the troupe's founder, Jay Chandrasekhar, Broken Lizard includes Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter and Erik Stolhanske. After the group completed college, they began performing comedy routines in clubs and on college campuses across the United States. Eventually, Broken Lizard expanded into the production of films, for which the troupe has garnered a committed cult following. While maintaining their association with the troupe, individual members of Broken Lizard participate in projects of their own from time to time as well.

In the mid-1990s, Broken Lizard expanded from live performances with the production of satirical video shorts titled "Dante's Levels of Hell," which aired on Comedy Central. Not long after, the group developed and produced its first extended feature, a 30-minute film called "The Tinfoil Monkey Agenda." The film is an absurdist spoof of contemporary media, and it was featured at the Fort Lauderdale Film Festival. The group members' experiences associated with this project cemented their determination to focus on films over live appearances.

The group's first feature-length production, "Puddle Cruiser," was filmed on the campus of Colgate University. The movie received the top jury award at the Hamptons International Film Festival directly after its release. The film was featured at the Sundance Film Festival and aired on the Sundance Channel and the Independent Film Channel.

Broken Lizard started production on "Super Troopers," a flick that would greatly broaden the group's standing in the film business. "Super Troopers" led Broken Lizard to develop an ardent cult following among the public at large. "Super Troopers" was featured at the Sundance Film Festival. Due to the enthusiasm of the audiences that screened the film at Sundance, Fox Searchlight Pictures entered into a distribution agreement with Broken Lizard.

"Super Troopers" is a satirical take on rural highway patrol officers. Although the film enjoyed only limited box office success, the film, just like the group that produced it, developed a strong and persistent cult following. Fox Searchlight Pictures also agreed to produce and distribute another Broken Lizard film, "Club Dread." Warner Brothers produced and distributed "Beerfest," another Broken Lizard film.

"Club Dread" is a campy spoof of 1970s slasher films. "Beerfest" is a story about an underground Olympic-style competition for beer drinkers. These two productions, as well as the prior films, feature Broken Lizard members in the major cast roles. Both of these films enjoyed moderate box office returns. In addition, they also enjoyed a decent amount of play through different premium cable television outlets following the close of their theatrical releases.

With the support and backing of Twentieth Century Fox, the individual members of Broken Lizard embarked on a variety of projects on their own. Chandrasekhar, the group's founder, directed episodes of a number of different Fox television shows, including "Undeclared," "Andy Richter Controls the Universe" and the critically acclaimed "Arrested Development." He also did a stint at Warner Brothers, directing the 2005 movie "The Dukes of Hazzard" for the studio.

Stolhanske appeared in guest roles on a number of TV shows that include Larry David's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and the HBO hit "Six Feet Under." Soter wrote the screenplay for a well-received film noir comedy titled "Watching the Detectives." The film starred Cillian Murphy and Lucy Liu. Lemme was a producer on a couple of feature films, "The Decade" and "Boxes." Heffernan co-wrote the screenplay for the film "On the One."

Not long after the release of "Super Troopers," members of Broken Lizard began to maintain consistently that a sequel is in the works. The Kansas City Star reported that group member Kevin Heffernan announced at a Kansas City gig that "come hell or high water," a "Super Troopers" sequel would be made by Broken Lizard. Late in 2012 during an interview on CNET, members of the group confirmed that a screenplay was drafted and green-lighted for production. No other specific information was provided, however, including the production company that has green-lighted the film.

Broken Lizard continues to work together as a group and advises on a variety of projects that are in the works. These include a feature film titled "Ambulance Chasers," which is in development. Other projects include "Nutcracker" and "Pot Fest." Of these films, members of the group report that "Pot Fest" is most likely the closest to production. The troupe continues to do live performances at clubs and on college campuses from time to time, as a form of homage to their roots.