• Image about Ed Helms

The Hangover was a huge success. At last summer’s box office, you were a bigger draw than Eddie Murphy, Sandra Bullock, Denzel Washington, and John Krasinski -- combined. Is that right? Combined? That’s pretty insane, but I don’t think it has anything to do with me at all. Empirically speaking, that’s not quite right. It’s a Todd Phillips movie. He’s a bigger celebrity than anybody in the movie. Beyond that, I think Warner Bros. got behind the movie in an unbelievable way. It’s one of those perfect-storm things. You could probably study why it’s done well on some academic level, but at the end of the day, it’s just magic or fairies or something.

Was your character’s missing tooth a result of special effects or oral surgery?
I didn’t actually have the tooth yanked; it was an implant that I had removed for the gig. It was bolted in there pretty good, so I couldn’t remove it myself, but my dentist had some fun. I had that thing out for, like, three months.

The face of comedy has changed over the past few years. Now we’ve got people like Judd Apatow, Steve Carell, Seth Rogen, and you -- these nerdy, smart guys. What’s behind that?
My friends and I, we were raised on Caddyshack and Ghostbusters and Fletch. Those guys -- Bill Murray and Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd -- they had this swagger to them. They were these bombastic, alpha-male characters, which was a reflection of their times, the 1980s, when the economy was booming and we had this cultural, larger-than-life swagger across the board. I fell in love with comedy because of those movies. But those are not the times we live in anymore. The spirit of things has changed. We feel more vulnerable now, so our heroes are more vulnerable. I think it’s gratifying and relatable for audiences to see these put-upon guys persevering. I think we can all relate to that these days. [Pauses.] My God, I sound pretentious. I really don’t know what I’m talking about.

Today, you’re a fan favorite on The Office. The show has one of television’s most talented casts.
I’ve worked really hard to surround myself with people who are funny and cool, and the people on The Office are definitely both. I figure if I surround myself with enough good people, then maybe I’ll look good too. So when I go to work on The Office, all I need to do is sit there and I end up getting laughs because everyone around me is so darn funny. I reflect their genius. I’ve got none of my own, but I reflect it very well.

Everyone on the show seems so darn nice, but there’s got to be a bad apple, right?
It’s me. I’m the [jerk] on that show [laughs]. No, it is an exceptional place full of exceptional people. Steve [Carell] deserves a ton of credit. He’s the star of the show, so he works harder than anybody, but he never, ever complains, so no one else can, right? It’s a very positive place to be. I sound like some New Age dork, but it’s a set filled with laughter, and that’s a good place to be.

It is said that comedy comes from pain. What’s your pain?
Everyone has personal trauma and very hard periods in life, but I don’t see myself as very tortured. I struggled with my identity as a teenager in where I fit in, which was pretty much nowhere. That stuff is hard for an adolescent: being the uncool. It’s really hard. I made it easier, like it is for a lot of comedians, but only a little bit, by trying to make people laugh. Comedy is always just a search for people to like you a little bit.

You’re quite the Renaissance man. Can you bake a pie?
Um, no. Actually, I’m a joke in the kitchen. I do enjoy cooking, which is sad, because I suck at something I like. That’s the worst kind of sucking.