Steven Levine, Michael Antonucci, Daniel Spenser, and Andrew Ford, aka Captain Hippo, are based in New York.
Note: Steven, Michael, Daniel, and Andrew had their lawyer, Businessman Lobsterman, present for this interview. Businessman Lobsterman is an actual lobster and businessman. He is not a real lawyer.
How did you guys meet?
Businessman Lobsterman: Hang on, boys! I just want to make it clear that whatever information is divulged during this interview is forfeited voluntarily by my clients and should not be used to sully their impeccable reputations. Proceed.
Steve: Me and Dan are forever brothers. We met Mike in kindergarten and thought he was funny, so we started a group of comedy-renegade outlaws.
Dan: Steve, Mike, and I grew up together in Massapequa, Long Island. Throughout middle school and high school, we would make stop-motion videos with Mike’s Hi8 Camcorder and some action figures.
Mike: I met Andrew in college through our respective sketch/improv comedy groups. I went to the School of Visual Arts. Andrew went to Boston University. Our groups would travel together up and down the east coast doing shows at various other colleges. After college, the four of us ended up working for an Internet video company. But, after we were fired for being too handsome, we decided to work together full time — where nobody can persecute us for our good looks!
Andrew: The guys were making not that many videos then and I was, like, “Make more!” And they were, like, “OK.”
Where did you get your name?
Steve: My dad used to create comics with his buddy, Larry, when he was in school. They called the comics Captain Hippo. Now it’s our name. Go ahead, Dad and my dad’s friend! Sue us! See what happens!
Businessman Lobsterman: No, no! Please don’t do that!
Dan: I’d hear the name growing up. When Steve, Mike and I were making videos in high school, we asked my dad if we could use it. He said no.
Mike: I wanted our name to be “The Bosom Buddies” but then we found out that was a TV show with Tom Hanks.
Andrew: I tried to change it. I was voted down.
Businessman Lobsterman (snapping his lobster claws): Captain Hippo is a trademarked intellectual property!
What’s your creative process like?
Mike: Our brains are like dirty used lawnmowers. They don’t work unless we put gas in ‘em. So in order for us to get anything done we usually have to eat a hearty meal. Burritos are our food of choice and usually serve as a catalyst for great ideas. And for gas.
Steve: We get drunk on food and wait until all of us are yelling and laughing so loudly that Andrew has to tell us to shut up and actually write something down. We all have different strong suits that fit together like a sexy puzzle.
Andrew: Screaming. Long email threads. Eventually realizing we’ve waited too long and scrambling to put something brilliant together, which we always do. We keep things loose.
Dan: I can’t stress enough how important burritos are to this group.
What was your craziest shoot?
Steve: For me, our craziest shoot was “Taken with a Real Dad.” It’s just strange working with your parents — where the main talent on set is my dad and Mike’s dad. Our dads were, like, “I’m so proud of you boys,” and we had to be like “Just read the lines, you’re RUINING it!”
Andrew: When we shot “I Expect You to Die,” Mike had to fall into a table in one scene. We used a real table and made him do it hundreds of times and we didn’t even film it most of the times. Think he got hurt bad.
Dan: A long time ago we were supposed to make a video about Chatroulette for work, but we kind of forgot about that as we were shooting. We ended up with this weird, nine-minute long, exhausting character study called “Shirtless Bird-Face Donkey Man.” We showed it to our bosses and they were like, “What the fuck is this?”
Mike: The most fun I’ve had on set for a video was probably when my whole family reenacted the first four seasons of Lost. Also, when we filmed the “American Singer” sketch we made our DP shit his pants for real. He was laughing so hard he actually shit in his pants.
Businessman Lobsterman: I’ve said this more times than I would like: my clients cannot be held accountable for any man’s irritable bowels.
What was that “vomit” you regurgitated in “American Singer”?
Dan: Oh man. It was a mixture of mushroom barley soup, vegetable soup, and oatmeal. Served at room temperature. There’s some real vomit in there, too. The mixture kept making me gag because I’m a wuss.
Andrew: That sketch was before my time. But that is the video that made me want to work with them. Puke is the funniest thing in the world.
Are their any Obsessive Compulsive Disorders you have, or wish you had?
Steve: Sometimes I’m careless with my money because I have so much of it.
Dan: I don’t think anyone wishes they had Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
Andrew: Dan is like a walking DSM (look it up) chapter on OCD, he doesn’t like when we bring it up publicly though. Don’t print this.
Businessman Lobsterman: Don’t say another goddamn word, boys. Ahem, my clients do not have to release any medical records. If you insist on harassing my clients, I’ll be forced to pinch ya.
What’s your favorite TV family?
Mike: The Looney Tunes.
Steve: I thought that family I saw weeping on the news just now was pretty funny.
Andrew: The Samsungs.
Dan: Maybe the Belchers, from Bob’s Burgers. What a great family. They go on some crazy adventures, but they still love each other.
Favorite crime family?
Businessman Lobsterman: My clients do not associate with any organized crime families.
Mike: The Sopranos. But don’t tell my family or they’ll bust me in da kneecaps with a ball peen hammer.
Andrew: The Antonuccis, one of the original crime families of Long Island.
Dan: Mike’s family makes great food for all of us. Is that a crime? Also, they rob and murder for money for the mafia.
Ever pulled any good pranks?
Dan: This is a lame one but, whenever we have to send voiceover work to each other for a cartoon, we’ll always hide a line in there that insults Steve, who has to sound-mix things.
Andrew: We do like to whisper things into the mic for Steve to hear later. I can’t believe we still do it because he really doesn’t like it. Even when we are in the middle of a tight shooting schedule or working with a celebrity, nothing can stop us from hurting Steve psychologically.
Steve: Sometimes I tell the guys I’m going to be on time for work and then I’ll show up 20 minutes late. They haaaaate it ‘cause I have all the stuff we use to make the videos.
Mike: One time, in first grade, Dan and Steve convinced me there was a monster living in their basement. I was so scared I wouldn’t go down there to get my shoes to go home. They had to “sacrifice” one of their stuffed animals in order to get my shoes. I will forever be grateful for that stuffed animal’s bravery.
Any embarrassing moments from your lives, individually or together?
Steve: We did a stand-up show at a college once. Nobody told us we were the only comedy act in a poetry-reading show. Right before we went on, a student went on stage and said, “I hear some laughing in the audience. I just want everyone to know people are baring their souls up here, so you should give them the courtesy of remaining quiet.” Then he introduced us.
Dan: The guy from the poetry show used a cane to walk. It was really depressing and not a good intro for wacky goofs. Especially since we opened with out “canes are stupid” sketch. Oof.
Steve: Dan, Mike and I went to a German festival called Sprachfest in high school for some reason and it was nuts!
Dan: I was asked to leave Sprachfest for being too loud and had to wait outside. It wasn’t, like, mean loud. I was being overly positive because I was bored.
Mike: One time I tried to kiss a girl, but I missed.
Andrew: No embarrassing moments. But I do have a question. Why does the government expect us to believe we landed on the moon? There is NO WAY we could do that, especially not in 1969.
Businessman Lobsterman: Are we done here?! If my clients aren’t being charged with anything–besides being “too handsome”– you have no right to hold them. Come on boys, let’s go to the Taco Bell.