Akiva Schaffer: He knew it was hilarious.
Andy Samberg: He was having a blast. We shot on top of the MetLife building.
Jorma Taccone: They were like, “Yeah. The one thing about Akon is he’s from Senegal and so he’s not super psyched on the cold.” And we were like, “Oh. That’s going to be a problem.”
Andy Samberg: Akon was freezing cold, as we all were.
Akiva Schaffer: It’s the second tallest building in New York. And I think it was six degrees on the ground and it was super windy. I don’t think I’m lying if I say it’s the coldest I’ve ever felt in my entire life. I remember somebody saying with wind chill it was at negative 20. We would start doing a take and your face would freeze and then you’d run back inside.
Jorma Taccone: It was insanely cold. We had to wear those ear muffs. We didn’t want to, but anytime we tried to do without that it was like our ears were going to freeze off.
Akiva Schaffer: Akon, for most of his takes, his face wasn’t moving. I remember I needed to write something down. So I took off my glove and my hand got in two words and then it couldn’t.
Andy Samberg: It was gnarly. The color correct was very challenging because we looked like Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls with rouge blotches on our cheeks. We still did those shots at the end where we’re like lifted up on a crane, even higher above the building. Like 30, 40 feet in the air. And I remember actively, all of us being like, “You might die doing this shot.” And wondering why we were doing it, but then seeing it and being like, “It looks cool.”
Jorma Taccone: We were on a chair that was on a crane, so we’re swinging around on this crane. It was really scary. I don’t know why we did it. And then the most frustrating part is that at the end of the day, we were like, “This looks like green screen.” We killed ourselves to do this crazy maneuver and it was very memorable and I’m glad we did it for the memory. But in terms of actually seeing what it looks like, you’re like, “This doesn’t even look like anything.”
Andy Samberg: I forgot how many cool settings we got in Central Park, the underground tunnel-y thing with the incredible ceiling and those little palladium stage things they have there. It all looks super huge. I remember joking a lot about how it was like our Armageddon, Michael Bay video. Times Square and everyone watching all over the world.
Akiva Schaffer: Armageddon was the main inspiration.
Jorma Taccone: This is meant to be a celebration. It’s why you have the chorus of people at the end. You’re meant to have this all-inclusive, worldwide “we can all get behind this” kind of feeling. Men, women, gay, straight — we can all relate to this. That was sort of our tone, which is why, when we shot the music video, we wanted it to have an international feeling. Just global families watching TV and people watching it in Times Square and singing along to it. It’s this sort of dumb feeling of camaraderie.
Akiva Schaffer: Katy Perry’s “Firework” was huge that year, with the fireworks all coming out of people’s chests from their hearts. We were like, “Let’s have this last shot be fireworks, obviously coming out of our crotches, on the roof.” So we looked up who did the “Firework” video and it was Dave Meyers. He was like the number one music video director of all time. We had met him one time in passing when we were assistants in LA, because his little sister had gone to school with us. I always had this thing in my head of “We know who Dave Meyers is. He’s one of us.” Even though he’s like 10 years older.