“Do you think it’s, like, a little starter mcdoodle?” Andy Samberg asks me, examining the trussed-up piece of tune on his plate. We’ve just sat down to dinner at the trendy Hollywood restaurant Lucques, where the chef has prepared a special tasting menu for Samberg, a frequent customer and a self-proclaimed foodie. Still, this initial bit of tuna is a surprise addition to the scallops, braised short ribs, and campari-and-grapefruit coupe to come—and therefore warrants a name of Samberg’s own devising. “That’s the official French term,” he protests with mock import, before digging in. “Starter mcdoodle.”
He has a way of making the phrase sound both daffy and authoritative all at once, a talent that serves Samberg well on the acclaimed Fox copy comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine, where, as Detective Jake Peralta, he convincingly delivers a bunch of hard-boiled police lingo without dropping a single silly punch line. When I meet up with him on this late February night, he’s nearly finished shooting Brooklyn’s second season and has come straight from the set, which might explain why he’s shown up at fancy Lucques wearing a gray hoodie, the sole casual diner in a sea of sport coats. “I think I’m a bit underdressed,” Samberg says finally, about a half-hour into our meal. “It’s a pretty nice restaurant! I forgot this was the order of things.”
You can forgive Samberg for going full-Zuckerberg this one time, since lately, he’s been stuffed into a tuxedo more often than not. A few days before our meal, he was at the Oscars performing “Everything Is Awesome,” the infectiously giddy anthem from The Lego Movie (in which he shares rapping duties with his crew from The Lonely Island, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer); the week before that, Samberg was back in New York, celebrating the momentous 40th anniversary of Saturday Night Live. With this trademark boyish enthusiasm, Samberg recalls meeting his idol Eddie Murphy that night—“He shook my hand and gave me a nod, which meant the world to me”—and staying super late at the star-packed after-party, an indulgence that the 36-year-old Samberg rarely affords himself now that he’s got a sitcom and a gluten-eschewing diet to attend to.
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