For Funny People, which is essentially a movie about comedians, in varying degrees of success in their careers, writer/director Judd Apatow cast real stand-up comics, including co-stars Aziz Ansari and newcomer Aubrey Plaza.

Taking an innovative approach by making her own live stand-up audition tape and posting it on YouTube, Aubrey Plaza was immediately offered the role of Daisy, the love interest to Seth Rogen’s character, Ira. And, Plaza’s Parks and Recreation co-star Aziz Ansari was cast as the hyperkinetic Randy, a comic that other performers love to hate.

At the film’s press day, the actors both talked about how their current success has changed their lives and careers.

Q: Aubrey, how did you get cast in this film? You do stand-up and had a friend shoot it, and then stuck it on YouTube. Did your agent tell you to do that?

Aubrey: I did that on my own, actually. I knew that they wanted to cast a stand-up, and I hadn’t really done it before, so I just decided to try it and I had my friend shoot it.

Q: How was that experience?

Aubrey: It was totally terrifying, but it was good. It had a good outcome.

Q: Do you write your own stuff, all the time?

Aubrey: Yeah. I wrote all my stand-up in the movie, and all the stand-up that I do now.

Q: What was it like to work with Judd? How much freedom did he give you?

Aubrey: With the stand-up, he gave me total freedom. He liked what I was doing, so he let me go with it. And, in the scenes, it was all in the script, but he definitely let us, on our feet, rewrite some things and play around. He was really good about giving us freedom.

Aziz: For my character, he was really cool about being open to any ideas I had, not only with the stand-up, but with the character traits and attitudes and stuff. It was really collaborative.

Q: Having done a full stand-up routine, were you surprised by how much or how little stand-up ended up in the actual film?

Aziz: I think we all assumed that he wouldn’t use a ton of the stand-up, so no.

Q: How much will end up on the DVD?

Aziz: We shot so much standup, that there’ll be so much on the DVD. We did, six different shows in the comedy clubs, and then there was the show at the Orpheum Theater. They shot hours of stand-up.

Aubrey: And, they would follow me, no matter how small the show was that I was doing. They would even film open mic nights.

Aziz: As soon as we starred doing stand-up for the movie, getting our characters ready and stuff, they were filming every show we did, like at UCB Theater and places like that.

Q: Aziz, where did the character of Randy come from? Did you work on that with Judd? Is he based on anyone, in particular?

Aziz: When we did the first Randy scene, Judd was explaining his idea of the character. He was just like, “Yeah, just make him really cocky and confident.” Then, as we were doing a scene, we were coming up with these ideas, like, “Oh, what if he had a DJ? What if all his jokes were just really dirty and about sex?” We shot the scenes first and then the stand-up stuff. I was like, “Oh, the way I did Randy in the scenes, he wouldn’t do stand-up like I do stand-up. It would be much crazier, and he’d jump around.” So, I started writing standup for Randy, in particular.

As far as who it’s based on, we put out some videos and people went, “Oh, that’s definitely gotta be this guy.” I don’t think it’s a dig at any particular comedian. I thought of it like, “What if Soulja Boy did stand-up comedy?” That was the idea I had. So, that’s why he has a dance. That’s why he has a DJ. That was the inspiration more than any comedian.

Q: Did you learn things, doing stand-up in character, that you have since incorporated into your own work?

Aziz: I’ve learned that I think people like Randy more than Aziz Ansari. No. But, it’s crazy. People really do respond to that really high energy stuff. When you come out there and you’re dancing around, you’re like, “Who’s ready to laugh their dicks off?” People are like, “Oh, I like this! This is good!” I was watching a tape of my own stand-up, and I come up and I’m like, “Yeah, so, I was walking down the street and . . .” Who cares about that? It’s interesting to see how audiences react, when you do stand-up as a totally different person.

Q: Aubrey, what has this last year been like for you? Have things just happened over the last year, or has it been more of a slow build?

Aubrey: For me, it wasn’t a slow build, at all. It happened at once, literally, in one week. I was out here last summer, and I had an audition for Funny People, Scott Pilgrim and Parks & Recreation and, in one week, my life completely changed.

Q: Had you done Mystery Team, at that point?

Aubrey: Yeah.

Q: How were you able to deal with that sudden burst of success?

Aubrey: I don’t know. I think I’m dealing with it okay. But, it’s been a really busy year, so I haven’t had much time to stop and really think about it. There are moments where I’m like, “How did I end up here?” And, I moved to L.A. from New York too, so that’s been a big change.

Q: Do you like it?

Aubrey: Yeah, I like it. It’s hot and sunny.

Q: Aziz, how has it been for you?

Aziz: It was kind of a slow build for me because I’d done a couple of seasons of this sketch show on MTV, called Human Giant, and then that became my calling card that got me the other stuff, like Scrubs and movie parts. With Parks & Recreation, I got hired from Human Giant. I also don’t think I’m famous at all, so it’s not really much to deal with.

Q: Do you like the fact that you’re working comic actors, but you still have that anonymity?

Aziz: I think we have it at the level where it’s nice. Every now and then, people are like, “Oh hey, I like that thing you did.” Then, if you’re like Jonah or somebody, it’s like, “Yo, it’s the dude from Superbad!” He’s just mobbed. I think we have it at a very nice level, where occasionally people are like, “Oh, I enjoy your work,” as opposed to just jumping on you.

Aubrey: No one ever says that to me.

Q: Aubrey, was your look in the film your idea? Is that how you usually look?

Aubrey: That’s what I look like, yeah. Those are my real glasses that I wore in the movie. And, I had bangs prior to the movie. But, I think Judd liked it, anyway. I was playing a dorky, comedy, improv person, and that’s who I am.

Q: Was it intimidating to come into this group of actors that Judd works with a lot, or did you feel included, right away?

Aubrey: I was really intimidated, before I met everyone. At the first table read, I met everyone and I instantly felt comfortable. They welcomed me into the family really nicely.

Aziz: I’d done Observe and Report with Seth, and I’d done a few things with Jonah. He’d done some stuff on Human Giant. So, I knew those guys a little bit, and I’d met Judd a bunch. The thing is, they’re the most down-to-earth people. I didn’t know Adam at all, and Adam was the most nice, friendly, down-to-earth dude you’ll ever meet, so it really wasn’t hard to jump in.

Q: Are you hoping to work with them again?

Aubrey: I hope that I get to work with them again.

Aziz: I would say the same.

Q: Aubrey, what’s next for you? Will you be continuing on Parks & Recreation?

Aubrey: Yep. There’s nothing really concrete on the horizon yet.

Q: What about Scott Pilgrim vs. The World?

Aubrey: Oh, yeah. I just finished shooting that in Canada, and that was really fun. It’s with Michael Cera. I play a character named Julie Powers. She’s an antagonist to Michael Cera’s character. She’s a bitchy record store employee.

Q: Are you the bad girl?

Aubrey: A little bit. I don’t get to fight. There’s a lot of fighting in the movie, but I don’t get to fight, physically. I fight with my words only. There’s a lot of yelling and venom, coming out of my mouth. It was great to be angry, every day. It was really awesome.

Q: Aubrey, have you talked to people and realized how unusual it is that your career came together, in the span of a week?

Aubrey: Yeah, especially because I came from UCB in New York, with Aziz. The extremity of how fast things changed is really unusual. People make comments to me, telling me how lucky I am, all the time.

Q: There’s been no resentment?

Aubrey: I don’t know. I hope there’s some.

Aziz: There’s a lot of resentment behind Aubrey’s back, that I hear.

Aubrey: I think there probably are some haters out there.

Q: Aziz, I Love You, Man is coming out on DVD. Can you reflect on your time making that?

Aziz: Yeah, that was fun. It was just a small part, but that movie was so fun because there were so many comedy people in that movie. There were people from The State and UCB, and myself and Rob Huebel, from Human Giant. It was a fun, fun project.

Q: Did you have any deleted scenes that will be on the DVD?

Aziz: I think there are some outtakes and stuff, but no big deleted scenes, I don’t think. I can’t think of anything, off the top of my head.

Q: What sort of stand-up material are you guys doing these days?

Aziz: I just recorded an hour special for Comedy Central, so I’m taking a break. It’s a stand-up special, and I actually did do a Randy chunk in it. In the movie, we did a scene where Randy talked about what he would do if he had a special. So, I did that in the special, so there’s a huge sign that says, “Randy,” with eight A’s, that comes down. There’s smoke machines and dancers. And, when I finished, it said, “Thank you very much, good night!” When I push my hands up, money guns shoot and money falls on the whole audience. It was really fun.

Q: Real money?

Aziz: No, no, no, it was fake. It was prop money, but it was making it rain.

Q: Parks & Recreation rushed into production last year and had to find its way. How does it feel this season?

Aziz: I think that’s how those shows, or any comedy really, work. It’s so tough, in the first episodes, for a show to just be like, “Bam, here it is! This is how everything’s going to be, for the rest of the whole thing.” That never happens. You watch the first season of any long-running comedy and it’s much different. As the show goes along, you feel things out.

Aubrey: The writers were pretty on top of figuring out what the tone was and what the context was, as far as the local government aspect of the show. For me, it was more about figuring out the relationships and the dynamics, and how the comedy was going to come from that, but that takes time.

Q: Have you gotten new scripts yet?

Aziz: We’re just now starting table reads and stuff. It’s going great.

Aubrey: It’s going to be really, really good.

Q: Any progress on the park and the hole?

Aziz: Not yet.

Aubrey: It’s still there. The pit is still huge and deep.

Aziz: It’s still in the mix.

Q: Will the documentary style be toned down this season?

Aziz: No, it’s the same as it was last year.

Aubrey: Yeah. I think it works really well.

Q: Who were your stand-up comedy inspirations? Who made you want to do what you’re doing?

Aubrey: There’s a ton of people, for me. There’s not just one. I’m lucky to work with one of them — Amy Poehler. She’s huge for me, especially with the Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB). She founded that. And, Janeane Garofalo, Tina Fey and old SNL cast members.

Aziz: For me, when I started off doing stand-up, when I was in high school, those two Chris Rock specials were huge, and I was a huge fan of those. That’s probably what I really liked, before I started doing stand-up.

Q: Do you ever go back and look at or listen to your early stuff? Do you ever go back to the time before you found your voice as a comic?

Aziz: Yeah, I did listen to some old stuff of mine, when I was getting ready for the special. I was like, “Maybe I should do some older stuff on the special,” because I’d never done a special before. It’s interesting to hear. Some of it was just bad. I was like, “Oh, God, really?” I’ll get emails from people who are like, “Oh, do you have any advice?” They’ll send a video and it’s like, “Oh, man, you don’t want to put this on YouTube, man. You’re going to hate this in six months. Keep this off. Don’t put this online.”

Q: What are your biggest changes in the way you approach comedy now?

Aubrey: I don’t know. I just look at the world differently. Everything could be a joke to me. I never really wrote jokes before, or thought about writing, in that way. I think that I’m more aware of things. I absorb things more.

Q: Has the change in the political climate also changed the way you approach comedy?

Aziz: Neither Aubrey nor I do much political stuff. I’m still doing really stupid things, all the time, so it’s easy to write.

Q: Like what?

Aziz: Watch the special.rnQ: Were you guys miserable, as children, like many comedians?

Aubrey: I wasn’t miserable as a child, but I definitely have some insecurities that I work out on stage. I think that growing up with insecurities always leads to comedy, in some way.

Aziz: I don’t think I was miserable, as a child. I think I was all right. I was always trying to make people laugh. It’s just taking that to an extreme, I guess.

Q: Were you the class clown?

Aziz: I guess.

Aubrey: I was like Reese Witherspoon in Election. I was a huge dork, who was the president of everything. I was everyone in Election, really. I was more of a loser, in that way. I was really, really into taking things way too far and being involved in everything. I was an overachiever.

rnQ: Aubrey, how did you get involved with Mystery Team? Was that just through UCB?

Aubrey: Yeah. I actually went to school with those guys. We were in the same class, in film school at NYU. And then, we all performed, at the same time, at the UCB Theater, so we were really aware of each other and what everyone was doing. When they wrote the script, they asked me to do the table read and it just worked out that way.

FUNNY PEOPLE opens in theaters July 31.