The Bridesmaids director talks about knowing when to cut a joke

The $287m worldwide success of Universal’s Bridesmaids is one of the great box office stories of 2011.

“You don’t need to know the American cast and it’s not referential,” says Bridesmaids director Paul Feig. “Everybody understands the fear of losing friends — that’s international.”

The genial former actor (he still appears on screen, although less so, and has a tiny part in Bridesmaids) cast Bridesmaids star Kristen Wiig in his 2006 comedy Unaccompanied Minors. She was an emerging force as a newish cast regular on Saturday Night Live. Judd Apatow, a longtime friend of Feig’s and the producer of Bridesmaids with Barry Mendel, suggested she write a screenplay.

Wiig wrote Bridesmaids with Annie Mumolo. The film shot in Los Angeles in the summer of 2010.

The famous vomit-fest between the ladies during a dress fitting was not originally in the screenplay. Wiig conceived it as a fight over money, but was willing to adapt, which was key. “She’s collaborative and willing to listen to other ideas,” says Feig.     

“Comedy is mathematical. It’s very musical, and if the beat is off, it’s not right. For us it’s all about killing [our] babies. When we’re in the editing room there’s so much that’s funny, but if a joke is hurting the emotional arc it has to go.”