Comedy works based on many important factors that, when combined, can turn something funny into something hilarious. One of these factors is the ability to tell a joke with the right timing; knowing when to move on and when not to overstay your welcome.
Though some instances, such as the landmark pie gag in the now 20 year old film American Pie, takes lot of time to get right. In the case of capturing the right moment of Jason Biggs getting romantic with an apple pie, it took six hours to make that particular magic happen.
Jason Biggs recalled that day on set in a recent interview, and he told that story as follows:
We did it once where I straddled the counter and the pie on that island in the kitchen. Then we did it a second way where I was doing it standing up. I believe the latter was the version that was in the theaters, and then the former was where I was on top of the counter, I believe that was in the DVD or the unrated version
Jason Biggs recalls his movie history correctly, as the theatrical and unrated versions of American Pie vary by about 10 seconds in length, and the position of the pie being one of the key distinctions between the two versions.
We apologize to those of you who rushed out to buy the “Unrated” version when it hit shelves, as the only real differences between the film you saw in theaters and on DVD are a couple of more suggestive frames that the MPAA wanted trimmed for an R-rating.
That sort of attention was also present on the set of American Pie, as when Jason Biggs continued telling The New York Times about the infamous scene’s creation, he mentioned the following details involving the film’s first assistant director, J.B. Rogers:
Each time it was very tricky. I’ll never forget J.B. would be coming in and would be adjusting my pants ever so slightly. Like, ‘OK, you’re showing too much crack. Oh, you’re showing not enough crack. We can see a little bit of your penis here.’ It was probably like six hours of doing it from all different angles and all different versions of it.
Not only was the pie that Jason Biggs did the deed with on camera not a real bakery product, but according to American Pie writer Adam Herz, that particular gag wasn’t in the original draft of the film’s script. It was later that the joke make its way into the film, giving the movie its’ memorable title, and a rather confusing picture to those who were courted to star in said film.
Fate pretty much took over from that point, as the film would not only become a runaway hit in the same year that brought us Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (which would have its own moments of infamy) and The Matrix; but would also spawn three theatrical sequels and four direct-to-video spinoffs.
To think that every inch of American Pie’s success is owed to one moment, captured after six hours of work, in which a man, a Styrofoam pie, and destiny collided to make silver screen history. Some moments really do change the world, don’t they?