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Why You Need To Read "Mustache Shenanigans" By Jay Chandrasekhar

Meow, listen to me and go buy this book... Meow.

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It is a great read that leaves you wanting more.

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I devoured this book in two days. Usually I take about a week to finish a book, but this left me turning the pages. "Mustache Shenanigans," is a very honest and funny autobiography that reads like no other.

The stories of his life growing up are fascinating.

A lot of times when I read a biography, I find it boring to read some of the stories about them growing up, but Jay Chandrasekhar does not let that happen in his book. He gives great insight to his days at boarding school where he narced on some students for smoking weed. Only to lead to becoming a frequent smoker in the near future. He even tells a great story about when he ran into the kid he got expelled from school for smoking weed in his dorm.

His Colgate University days with the gang.

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If you are a fan of Broken Lizard, then these stories about his time at Colgate University are vital. At Colgate, Chandrasekhar met the other members of Broken Lizard through their fraternity, Beta Theta Pi. The five members of Broken Lizard including Jay, Steve Lemme, Kevin Heffernan, Paul Soter, and Erick Stolhanske started a sketch group at Colgate before moving to New York City and selling out shows of their show there.

There are amazing stories that I don't want to spoil but there is a great one about the time Jay met Paul and the two of them had a macho contest that ended with Jay almost shooting a staple gun into his leg. This was a result of Paul doing it first, without telling Jay that he had a fake leg. It was at this moment that Jay new his fraternity needed Paul to join.

Their first film "Puddle Cruiser."

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You will learn more about independent film making by reading the stories of the making of "Puddle Cruiser," than you will in any film textbook out there. Chandrasekhar goes into great length about how the wrote the script, got financing, and convinced their Alma mater to shoot the film on their campus. The film was so low budget that they ran out of money with a week of shooting still left. Thinking fast, Jay remembered that he had multiple credit cards of his father's that said, "Dr. Chandrasekhar," on them and he maxed out all of them resulting in a $40, 000 debt. Ultimately the film ended up getting into some major festivals and he was able to clear up that debt.

How Film Festivals work, especially Sundance.

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Even after graduating from film school, I didn't know much about how the festival circuit really worked. Thankfully, after reading this book, I had a pretty good understanding of how it all worked.

After Chandrasekhar and Heffernan put together a first cut of their first film, people weren't to pleased with it after they thought it was great. The run time was about two and a half hours long and many people knew that it needed to be cut down by a lot of time. With the deadline of the Sundance submissions creeping up, they had to submit what they had.

To not much surprise, the film did not get in. And something I learned was that Sundance did not accept films that debuted at other festivals first. This seems crazy but the acceptance rate for a film into Sundance is so low that you have a better chance at getting into Harvard University than having a film selected into Sundance.

After being rejected by Sundance, they took their film to the Hampton's Film Festival where they took home an award. After the chairman of Sundance saw a cut of the film, he asked why they didn't submit it to Sundance. They told him that they had and he admitted to never having seen it in the submissions. Soon after, the film would become the first film to play at Sundance that did not debut there. Pretty cool, huh.

Selling a film.

After Puddle Cruiser played at Sundance, some potential buyers were interested, including the great Harvey Weinstein. Ultimately it didn't sell but later became a straight to VHS in Canada which made back the money and got Jay out of debt.

Years later, they would submit their next film "Super Troopers," to Sundance where it would sell to Fox Searchlight. The film took multipule screenings and Harvey Weinstein actually helped them sell it by drinking with them!

Super Troopers, Club Dread, and Beerfest stories.

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You will learn a lot about the making of these three films, especially "Super Troopers." For "Super Troopers," Chandrasekhar goes into an in depth breakdown of almost every scene which was really funny and informative. You will find out about where the inspiration for each film came from and all the pre-production hell it took to make them. Except, "Club Dread," which got immediately green lit as a result of "Super Troopers" success.

You get a lot of insight about how they write and cast their films as well. One thing that I love that Broken Lizard does is writing their films with out casting it first. Since they write and star in all their own movies, they want to make sure that every character is written well and has good jokes. By doing this, it prevents a writer from writing all their funny ideas for their character. Brilliant.

Fun fact: Jimmy Fallon almost played one of the German beer drinkers in "Beerfest," but dropped out at the last minute. Imagine him alongside Will Forte and Nat Faxon!

Directing television.

Jay Chandrasekhar has has a lot of success working as a director for television. I learned a lot about what it took to be a television director from this. For example, you get five days to prepare for you episode, and five days to shoot it. If you go over time and need another day, it takes away a day from the next director's episode. Pretty interesting and very scary!

He has directed episodes for, Undeclared, Arrested Development, Community, Human Giant, Blue Mountain State, New Girl, and The Goldbergs.

If you are a Burt Reynolds fan.

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Jay Chandrasekhar goes in depth about working with one of his heroes, Burt Reynolds on the film, "Dukes of Hazard." They had a lot beef on the set as Burt Reynolds is notoriously hard on directors in films he works on. It started off poorly after he originally wanted to direct the film and couldn't as a result of Chandrasekhar already signed on to direct. The stories are so crazy I don't want to spoil them but be prepared to laugh and attain the assurance about any Reynolds myth.

Race issues.

Chandrasekhar talks a lot about growing up as an Indian American and what life was like as an Indian American after 9/11. It's extremely insightful and very frustrating at how ignorant people could be. He even signed up for karate classes as a result of feeling like he would be getting into a lot of fights because of the way he looked. The mistaken identity of being Middle Eastern occured on many occasions but one stood out.

After 9/11 he was in Boston and was walking around late at night when some guys started to call him Muhammad and yelling racial slurs at him. He said he didn't want any trouble and they began to push him around like they were going to start beating him up. Eventually one of them realized he was from Super Troopers and they turned the attitude around saying they were fans and asking for pictures. They told him they were only kidding and got a picture with him to which he accepted as a result of not wanting to be beaten up.

These chapters are some of my favorite as they were educational and gave us a great look into his life during a stressful time in America.

In conclusion.

Broken Lizard / Via

Whether it be about filmmaking, racial issues, partying with Chris Farley, or creating the strike out, the book entertains from page one to it's last. Jay Chandrasekhar has lived an eventful life and journey through the ins and outs of show business. This book will teach you a lot about comedy and how independent films are made. This has been my favorite book of the year and I hope you all go out there and buy this book. Ditch your school and read this book because you're in for one hell of a ride!

Fun Fact: In the scene where Steve Lemme's character is doing the "strike out," he is actually smoking weed, drinking real beer, and real liquor. He nailed it on the first take but director, Jay Chandrasekhar kept coming up with fake excuses as to why it didn't work and made him to it 8 more times. By the end, he was super f*cked up!

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