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DID YOU READ

What Guys Talk About When They Talk About Girls

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Movies about men hanging out shootin’ the shit have a pretty lurid reputation. In those besides, say, “My Dinner With André,” images that spring to mind are road trips, beer bongs, masturbation jokes, togas, carnal encounters with baked goods. And if we’re lucky, a heart-to-heart that reveals that these loud-mouthed louts with nothing but sex on the brain might actually be human deep down inside. For me, besides belly laughs (and smug satisfaction at being confirmed the more civilized sex), the interest in guy flicks lies in the insight they offer into the way men talk to each other, especially about women.

In most broad comedies about high school or college-aged guys, such gems as “Porky’s” and “American Pie,” the main goal in life seems to be getting laid, although occasionally an added impetus spices things up, like trying to satisfy the munchies (“Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle”), get into Princeton (“Risky Business”), or pass history class (“Bill & Ted’s Big Adventure”) — all, of course, in addition to doing one’s damndest to get laid. In “American Pie,” the über-guys-trying-to-get-laid movie, the quest dominates most conversations among the attractive, horny males in the cast, allowing for dialogue like this:

“What exactly does third base feel like?”

“Like warm apple pie…”

“McDonald’s or homemade?”

Many guy flicks transcend their base premise with realistic, witty dialogue (“Clerks”), funny, high concept plot machinations (“Harold & Kumar,” “Bill & Ted”) or overall comic genius (“Animal House”). And the best of them manage to bury sweetness and humanity beneath the filth. While Hollywood woos the delish 18-25-year-old dude demographic with absurdity and dick jokes, independent filmmakers who make chatty guy flicks tend to have some deeper purpose in mind — more “American Graffiti” than “Losin’ It.” Often the fictional men whose lives we invade are older and their goals are shifting from losing their virginity — or banging as many cheerleaders as possible — to growing up and potentially sleeping with one woman for the rest of their lives, a shift that can trigger anxiety, stubborn bursts of commitment-phobia and a lot of drama. Hence the attraction for directors of a certain age who still want to make movies about themselves and their homies.

“If you want to talk, you always have the guys at the diner. You don’t need a girl if you want to talk,” says Eddie (Steve Guttenberg) in Barry Levinson’s “Diner” (1982), a film about a group of 20-somethings in 1959 Baltimore resisting adulthood with all their might. Eddie is a man prepared to call off his wedding if his fiancée fails a prenuptial football trivia quiz he has devised for her, clearly an excuse. Marriage is a symbol of growing up and having to say good-bye to a carefree youth spent hanging out with the guys at the diner.

In Ed Burns’ “The Groomsmen” (now in theaters), the director plays Paulie, a Long Island reporter on the verge of marrying his pregnant girlfriend (Brittany Murphy) who is wrestling with his fear of taking this leap. Gathering for the big event are Paulie’s brother Jim (Donal Logue), who is having marital problems of his own, happily married bartender and father of two, Des (Matthew Lillard), secretly gay T.C. (John Leguizamo) and Mike (Jay Mohr), who still lives at home, obsesses about his ex and gets all the funniest lines. Like “The Brothers McMullan,” which launched Burns’ directing and acting career in 1995, the film features scene after scene of the guys engaging in such manly activities as softball, fishing and boozing it up, all the while giving each other advice about sex and love, although now more mature topics like fatherhood and infertility are integrated into the discussion.

Even the guys from indie sensation “Clerks” are growing up — or at least trying to. On July 21, the audience that fell in love with such dialogue as “My girlfriend’s sucked 37 dicks.” “In a row?” excitedly welcomes Kevin Smith’s “Clerks II,” which the writer-director has described as being “about when that lazy 20-something malaise lasts into your 30s.” I haven’t seen the film yet, but reportedly Dante (Brian O’Halloran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson) are still working behind the counter, now at a monster fast-food joint, although Dante is engaged — but still spending his days having conversations (classified as “obscene” by one critic) with the guys and making the moves on his hot boss (Rosario Dawson).

Occasionally, real insight into the concerns of real men can be found between the obscenities. Doug Liman’s “Swingers” (1996), for example, which was written by Jon Favreau who also plays Mike, focuses on Mike and his friends acting suave and drinking cocktails and strategizing hilariously about how to get girls, or “babies,” into bed. But under the Machiavellian rule-making lies the story of a man devastated by a breakup and friends that genuinely care.

“I could, like, forget about her and then when she comes back make like I just pretended to forget about her,” Mike says.

“Right, although probably more likely the opposite,” says his friend Rob (Ron Livingston). “I mean, at first you’re going to pretend to forget about her. You’ll not call her, I don’t know, whatever… but then eventually you really will forget about her.”

“Well, what if she comes back first?” Mike asks.

“See, that’s the thing,” Rob says, “is somehow they know not to come back until you really forget.”

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

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IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….

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IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.

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IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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