Brian Copeland finds small dose of reality in 'Virgin'
By David Templeton
'Listen, there aren't very many people who are bigger fans of offensive humor than I am," says Brian Copeland, not long after catching Steve Carell's gross-out hit comedy The 40-Year-Old Virgin, now out on DVD. "It takes a whole lot to offend me," adds the award-winning comic, writer, radio-host and actor, whose autobiographical Not a Genuine Black Man has officially become the longest-running solo show in San Francisco history. Copeland performs Genuine in two sold-out shows at the LBC Jan. 27--28; he performs with Sherry Glaser Jan. 23 at the Marin Theatre Company.
Copeland is equally famous in the Bay Area for the regular R&B joke shows he co-hosts on KGO with morning talk-show legend Ronn Owens, known for the hilarious, envelope-pushing crudeness that ends up being traded back and forth. There have been plenty of juvenile riffs about virgins along the way.
"With 40-Year-Old Virgin, I gotta be honest," Copeland says. "Juvenile humor is one thing--but this was just too much! Coming from me, that's really saying something."
The film is the story of Andy Stitzer (Carell), a sweet-natured guy who, for various reasons--and despite a number of disastrous attempts displayed in embarrassing flashbacks--has made it to his 40th birthday without ever having known full sexual congress. When Andy's co-workers discover his situation, they make it their business to get him laid. Unfortunately, his new friends know a lot less about women than they think they do, and the resulting would-be couplings and dates-gone-wrong play out like the world's most disgusting governmental abstinence infomercial ever made. There are condom-on-the-head gags, untamable-boner gags, raunchy-exclamations-while-having-your-chest- waxed gags, and just for yukks, some actual tenderness on behalf of the patient divorcée (Catherine Keener) who thinks Andy is kind of cute.
Guess who ultimately deflowers the virgin?
"Not a bad deflowerer, actually," says Copeland. "She was kind of hot, but believably hot. She was a real person in a film full of crude, female caricatures. They're based on reality, but they're still caricatures. They're stereotypes."
"OK, so let's take a look at a couple of those stereotypes," I suggest. "What about Paula [Jane Lynch], the Sexually Aggressive Female Boss. Is she real, or just a bad joke?"
"Hmmm. She was terrifying," Copeland laughs. "And there really are people like that, men and women. If the virgin had wanted to sue, he'd have had a great sexual-harassment case against her."
Another stereotype: Beth, the Sex-Crazed Knockout who keeps showing up when Andy is at his crankiest. Played by Elizabeth Banks, the Sex-Crazed Knockout is a little too much for poor, esteem-challenged Andy, and her willingness to get down and dirty only increases whenever Andy tries to turn her off by coming on really strong.
"She was an example, ultimately, of how too much of a good thing can turn into a bad thing," says Copeland. "At first, she seems kind of sexy, but by the end she's just sort of sad. So I'd have to say she's real, too."
"Finally, what about the Drunk Girl," I ask. (That's actually her name in the credits.)
"Oh my God! The Drunk Girl!" he exclaims. "Was she scary or what?"
Drunk Girl (Leslie Mann) is an attractive woman Andy meets at a bar. She seems too good to be true until she's finally alone with him in her car, where she suddenly demands, "Tell me I'm pretty," as she simultaneously proves to be TDTD--Too Drunk to Drive--sideswiping parked cars and ultimately gacking up all over poor Andy.
"Tragically, she's real," Copeland confirms. "I always call women like that Chicks Who Look Good on Paper. They're really cute and really interesting, but as soon as you go out with them or get slightly involved with them, Sybil comes out.
"A friend of mine has this great thing he tells his kids," he continues, "and it's something he says he wishes someone had taught him when he was growing up, and that's this: Nobody is a little bit crazy. Either they're sane or they are full-blown nuts. This lady was nuts!
"So she was real, too," Copeland concludes. "Though I have to say the side-swiping cars and all that was a bit over the top. I've had dates go really bad, but I never had a date do that."
Brian Copeland and Sherry Glaser present a 'Killer Comedy Night' at the Marin Theatre Co. on Monday, Jan. 23. Comic Moshe Kasher opens. 397 Miller Ave., Mill Valley. $19--$32; a deli dinner preceding the show is an additional $20. Dinner at 6pm; performance at 7:30pm. 415.388.5208.
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