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Opening this weekend, 50/50 is a a comedy about that merriest of topics, cancer. Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as a 27-year-old who is told that he has a rare form of cancer: The title refers to the odds he’s given for survival.

It’s based on the actual experiences of Will Reiser, who did indeed survive and appeared at a Toronto press conference to talk about the movie. He is joined by his friend Seth Rogan, who plays a character based on himself.

Reiser: The way we dealt with it, we were 25-year-old comedy writers, we didn’t sit around and talk about our feelings. We just tried to make jokes about the absurdity of the situation. One night we were at a party and someone asked me if I had made a check list of all the things I wanted to do. I guess they’d seen The Bucket List and figured out that’s what everybody does. I told them, “That’s not how it really works. I just want to sleep. I don’t really want to go to Africa.” We started talking about how there’s never been a comedy about cancer and said, why don’t we do a buddy comedy about cancer?

Rogan: My character is trying to be funny, so that gives you a lot of luxury as an actor because not all of the jokes need to land. To me the only line was how obnoxious can I be and still have the audience believe that Joe’s character would hang out with this guy and not just tell him to fuck off. There were times when I would antagonize him so much that you’d think he’d punch me in the face and never talk to me again.

Watch the trailer for 50/50

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