Colgate alumni Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter and Erik Stolhanske, all of the Class of 1991 and members of Beta Theta Pi fraternity, make up the popular American comedy troupe Broken Lizard. The group began, however, as Colgate’s own Charred Goosebeak comedy and improv group. While the group started in 1990 at the request of a student theater director, its members decided to continue on with their work after graduation.
Reuniting in New York City to perform at clubs, the members of Broken Lizard soon de-cided to explore the medium of film. They returned to Colgate to shoot their first full-length feature film, “Puddle Cruiser,” which was based on the group’s own experiences at Colgate, as much of their material is. The film won the Hamptons International Film Festival’s top jury award. Their first wide-release movie was the popular comedy “Super Troopers,” directed by Chandrasekhar, who also helped to write and starred in the film along with Heffernan, Lemme, Soter and Stolhanske, earning them a distribution deal with Fox Searchlight Pictures. The group went on to direct, write and act in movies “Club Dread,” “Beerfest,” “Slammin’ Salmon” and, most recently, “Freeloaders.”
“I have always loved comedy and acting, but being a part of Charred Goosebeak gave me the extra encouragement to pursue acting and comedy as a career. It gave us confidence by allowing us to have practical real-life work experience and have fun while doing it,” Stolhan-ske said of his and the group’s experiences at Colgate. “We learned how to create a show at Colgate. We knew that if we could pull off a show on campus, we’d be able to do it anywhere.”
The members of Broken Lizard have also experienced success in their solo endeavors. Chan-drasekhar has worked with 20th Century Fox as a television director for shows such as “Unde-clared,” “Arrested Development,” “Oliver Beene” and “Cracking Up,” as well as directing several episodes of “Psych.” Chandrasekhar also directed the 2005 film “The Dukes of Hazzard,” which also featured roles by his fellow Broken Lizard members.
Heffernan co-wrote the 2005 film “On the One” and appeared in the films “Sky High” and “Strange Wilderness.” He also appeared in several television shows, including “How I Met Your Mother,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Veep” and “Arrested Development.”
Lemme co-produced the movies “The Decade” and “Boxes” and appeared in “Open Water” and “Big Helium Dog.”
Soter has co-directed the film noir comedy “Watching the Detectives,” in which he, Lemme and Stolhanske also appeared.
Stolhanske has acted in several television shows, including “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Six Feet Under,” and a number of films. He also works on his own series of talks, “Foolish Perseverance,” in which he discusses growing up in the face of adversity – he has one prosthetic leg – and how he has overcome this. One of his more recent stops includes Colgate, where he gave a talk last spring.
“The school still has the same soul and spirit,” Stolhanske said of returning to his alma mater. “It was like putting on my favorite old flannel shirt.”
For now, the group is focusing on their own individual careers, though they plan on doing future collaborations.
“Be ready for the long, tough haul,” Stolhanske said when asked about pursuing a career in act-ing. “It takes a lot of grit to break into show busi-ness. But, if that is your dream, follow it with foolish perseverance and irrational determination.”
Contact Emily Kress at [email protected]