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Inside the Beastie Boys’ Oscilloscope Laboratories

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Yesterday evening, IFC’s Lunchbox crew paid a visit to the Beastie Boys’ Oscilloscope Studios–or as Adam Yauch later corrected me–the Oscilloscope Laboratories. I’d tell you where it was, but besides signing a confidentiality agreement, myself, along with my fellow IFC crewmembers were blindfolded and driven around in the back trunk of a car. I think we went over a couple bridges, but I couldn’t tell you for sure–if I had to guess, I’d say their secret den is somewhere between Jersey City and upstate New York.

(left: Adam Yauch testing the Oscilloscope’s surveillance system.)

We met up with Adam Yauch (aka MCA, aka Preying Mantis, aka nephew of world renown filmmaker Nathanial Hornblower) to tape an episode of Lunchbox, which will air this Tuesday, April 29 (Noon EST) on–the same week that Yauch will be premiering his brand new basketball documentary, Gunnin’ For That #1 Spot, at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.* I should also point out that the film features college hoops phenoms, Michael Beasley and Kevin Love, sure to be top picks in the upcoming NBA draft.

*NYC Fun Fact: For all of those not familiar with New York City, Tribeca is the section of town in lower Manhattan known as the TRIangle BElow CAnal Street.

This was my first trip to the Oscilloscope since 2004, when I attended a listening session for the Beastie’s soon-to-be-released album, To The Five Boroughs. Upon entering the Laboratories, MCA told me to follow him into one of the building’s many offices. He showed me a picture I had drawn of the Beastie Boys years earlier, which was resting on the same wall as Nathanial Hornblower’s Grammy Nomination certificate–what an honor!

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Before I go any further, I guess I should point out that drawing pictures of people I admire is a habit I formed as a youngster, which (for some reason or another) I haven’t been able to break. In the early 80’s I sent one of my first drawings to Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Kent Tekulve (left), and I’ve been doing it ever since. Is this an odd ritual? Perhaps, but what are you gonna do?

You’d expect the O-scope offices to be frantic like a newsroom, considering that Gunnin’ For That #1 Spot is set to premiere in just a few days. It was actually quite the opposite though. The 3-man Oscilloscope team seemed pretty laid back, and the halls of the Laboratory had the silence of an after-hours school building.

For those familiar with Beastie Boys-lore, you should know that their lair (which resembles an old-school newspaper office) has been featured in music videos like “Ch-Check It Out” and “Shazam! The Melee” (featured on Awesome; I Shot That’s Gratis Textiles disc). Presently, the Lab resembles the bedroom of a boy who just got back from a long camping trip, or in this case, the room of a band who just got off a busy touring year. The main lobby of the Oscilloscope is stacked high with road cases, organs, empty adidas boxes, and see-through bongos. Hanging from the ceiling is a monstrous-looking salad bowl contraption–which I’m sure the Beastie Boys peer into from time-to-time practicing their fish-eye lens moves.


(right: The Beastie Boys making good use of the Oscilloscope digs in their “Ch-Check it Out” video.)

To the naked eye, the Oscilloscope looks more like a really cool thrift shop than a film distribution office/music studio. Every few feet you’re greeted with a neat little knick-knack–a 70’s style miniature basketball hoop, a fake-mustache kit, a dollar-store S.W.A.T. team fun-pak, a Roland SP 303 (resting on the same counter as an espresso machine), and the Beastie Boys’ Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, which casually sits atop their refrigerator with a handful of other statues and figurines.

Moments before our interview started, Mike D–with bicycle in tow–popped out of one of the offices. After exchanging a few pleasantries I asked, “So, what have you been up to lately?”

“Ah, not much, just coming up here, makin’ some music, that’s about it.”

“Oh yeah, what kind of music are you making?” I foolishly inquired.

Mike proceeded to list ten or so different genres of music, leading me to believe that the new Beastie Boys’ album–which he said should be out by next year–will be a Latin-infused, Asian hip-hop, hardcore, world-music album. At the end of his lengthy description, a smile appeared on his face, basically telling me, “C’mon Jim, you know better than to ask what a new Beastie Boys album is going to sound like,”

Minutes later MCA and I sat down for our Lunchbox interview. Continuing with the thrift-store-vibe, MCA informed me that the chairs we were sitting on were “finds” from nearby trash heaps. Considering I survived many years of post-college life on garbage-picked treasures, I felt right at home.

Knowing that MCA is a meticulous worker (and also discovering that he was up until 3AM the night before making last-minute adjustments to the film), I felt compelled to ask, “Is it tough being a perfectionist?”

MCA replied, “I don’t know if I’m a perfectionist. Here’s how I look at it. When you’re given a deadline–you work as hard as you can, trying to make something really good, up until that deadline hits.”

Gunnin’ For That #1 Spot will premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival this Monday night, April 28 (6PM, BMCC), and will hit theaters on June 28. My little sit-down Oscilloscope-chat with MCA can be seen this Tuesday, April 29 on’s Lunchbox. Also, make sure to follow all of the Tribeca Film Festival happenings at

Following our interview at the Oscilloscope Laboratories, MCA asked, “So does this take care of one of your blogs for today?”

I thought about it for a second, and responded, “I guess it does–good idea.”

The IFC Lunchbox crew was then bound-and-gagged, stuck into a trunk of a car, and found ourselves on the bank of the Hudson River a few hours later.



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

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

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.