Indiewire: Your work has always managed to showcase these characters with amazing eccentricities — like, in the case of Nina Conti’s character, speaking your mind uncontrollably by way of a monkey puppet — but the humor never seems to come at the expense of these characters, it’s not cruel. How do you find the comedy without hanging them out to dry?
Christopher Guest: I think it’s important for what I do — I can’t speak to other people — to have as much weight on the emotional investment the people will have in the characters. Even though there’s this woman with this puppet who’s had this traumatic experience, it should be that you care about her even though it’s kind of bizarre.
When I did “Best in Show,” Eugene Levy had two left feet, and you think, wow, that’s kind of… But I think people really related to him — he was this poor guy, this guy who was really having some problems. It’s very easy to dump on characters, to make people look stupid. That’s a very short-lived thing, it’s a sketch, then it’s over and who cares.
For me, having the investment of two years of working on a film, it’s important that there’s another dimension and it’s usually about feeling something for those people even if they’re deluded. You have to feel something for them, it makes it more interesting and maybe it makes it funnier.