AP: Were you tempted at all during the making of the anniversary special in the final part of the film to shoot some of it for Ralph.
JC: No. [laughs] I mean, there are moments, but I was sure to keep away from that.
RZ: I wouldn’t have let him, anyway. [laughs] That’s my baby! Letting my best friend Robert come into my world of filming was hard enough, but he was bugging me for, like, the last 10 years of the past 15 years we’ve been hanging out. I couldn’t make him understand for the longest time that it was just my own personal wank. When I was inspired I could spontaneously set it up, do it, and then go off to whatever else it was that I was doing. I didn’t have to phone up 18 people. I didn’t have to phone up a sound person or ask someone what I had to wear, but having Robert come in and help me make some real art and have him play with me was refreshing. It was a whole new outlook on it and it makes me look back and wonder if I had done the original show with someone if it would have been easier. Then I kick myself in the teeth and I realize that, no, people enjoyed it as is. I don’t need 9 camera angles and an audio crew.
AP: Was there ever a point where you just turned to Ralph and just asked him what the hell he was doing?
JC: [laughs] No, actually. It was mostly Robert that would do that. I think Robert kind of takes the role of the mediator for the audience, really.
RZ: He’s like my mummy in the film. He’s, like, “Don’t do that or you won’t come home for dinner on time!” He’s Mr. Positivity. He’s the one who goes “You’re positively going to f**k up.”
JC: I mean, that’s an element that I really like. In real life, Ralph and Robert aren’t all that different. In the film, Robert comes across as being a lot more normal than he really is. He’s a wild guy, but when the camera turns on, he’s a lot more reserved. But he’s always boisterous and excited. The dynamic between them works great as an on-screen duo, like Sherlock Holmes and Watson [laughs].
RZ: Beanie and Cecil is more like what I was thinking.
AP: Now with the movie out of the way and the anniversary special done, how easy will it be for you to get back into Cap’n Video mode?
RZ: [puts on sunglasses and messes up his hair] Takes me about 12 seconds to put on my glasses, [adopts the high pitched Cap'n Video voice)] I cam make the Cookie Monster on acid voice and here we go! YEEEEEEOOOOOWWW! You got an egg? I will snort it right now!
But seriously, when we started this, the Cap’n was in his cocoon and put away, but as Jay wanted to see more of my footage and was asking me repeatedly to bring him back I went from a flat no, to maybe, to “YEAH! YEAH! I miss him!” It’s fun! How could it not be? And if I can make people laugh in the process? Touchdown.
AP: The film is really funny, but there is also some really serious and really touching stuff, as well. How do you, Jay, balance the funny and the sad, and Ralph, were there moments that were tough to sit through or relive?
JC: That was the hardest part of it all when I got to the editing room. There are some pretty extreme tonal shifts. When I watch it with an audience I can see exactly where those moments fall. The first 15 minutes are almost all laughter and then the section where Ralph loses his job at GM comes up. Then after a serious moment like that I can sense having to win that laughter back. It’s not in a bad way, but this is the territory of the film. That’s just how it lays out and watching it with an audience and hearing that laughter I now understand why so many filmmakers go right into comedy because it’s such an instant gratification to watch an audience respond vocally to a film.
That’s one of those things that I love about documentaries. Every time I think of a fictional film, I always think it would be better if that could happen in a documentary. That’s why I’m interested in getting into fictional filmmaking, but it’s all genre stuff like monster movies and horror movies, the kind of stuff you can’t really make documentaries of.
RZ: The hardest thing too look back on is obviously watching myself break my neck. That wasn’t cool. I couldn’t watch it for the first few years after I did it because I saw it from a different angle and that angle wasn’t cool either. My personal stuff I can kind of look back and move on, like the stuff with my battle with cancer when I was a kid and just say, “Whatever. Where’s the next pile of pony shit?” Then I go look for the pony. I don’t sit there and pontificate about bullshit and stuff that went on. I live in the moment. It was hard because you wonder about who these strangers are that get to peer into your life, but it’s also cathartic. But here I am. All of me. Right there. Bippity Bop. Chop, chop. Raincoat’s popped open. Which way do you want it? Clockwise or counterclockwise?
Beauty Day opens in Toronto, Ottawa, and St. Catherine’s on June 10. For more upcoming screenings, visit filmswelike.com.