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DID YOU READ

IT’S LIKE THAT: Sad But True

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Let me introduce you to the “burnout.”

This now rare species roamed the earth from the 1970’s through the 1980’s. They could be easily identified by their untied high-top sneakers, tight pants, and a jean jacket with a patch of their favorite heavy metal band emblazoned on the back. A cigarette could usually be seen hanging from their bottom lip, and when they weren’t inflicting pain on neighborhood children, they could be found waxing their automobiles, while blasting their favorite heavy metal tunes of the day.

I grew up in the same neighborhood with many “burnouts,” and let me tell you–like AC/DC suggested–they made my life a “Highway To Hell.” Now that I look back, I guess I was perfect fodder for a burnout attack. My family went to church two times on Sunday, I wasn’t allowed to listen to anything but “Christian” music, and swearing was strictly prohibited (even the word “fart” was off limits).

(above: The sight of one of these used to send me running home.)

Imagine the fear that shook through me the first time I saw an Iron Maiden patch on a burnout’s back. The band’s skeletal mascot, Eddie, looked like he was going to jump right off the jacket-patch and strangle the life out of me. Then there were the many Metallica t-shirts and icons I encountered on a daily basis: a raised fist with knife in hand coming out of a toilet, a cemetery littered with crosses, and phrases like: Kill ‘Em All, Ride the Lightning, and Metal Up Your Ass. Seeing Metallica’s blocky-font-logo meant one thing to me, RUN!

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The neighborhood burnouts inflicted pain on me in various ways. Before the “wedgie” became a pop-cultural punch line, my tormentors used it as their favorite torture technique. And let me say, there’s nothing funny about being lifted off of your feet with a pair of whitie-tighties wedged between your butt cheeks. The burnouts also had access to various weapons. Though they never blew me up with an M80 (as threatened), there were countless times when I was sent running home dodging bottle rockets, bee-bee gun pellets, or rocks being propelled by industrial-strength slingshots.

Was I ever hit? Yes. Did it hurt? Like you couldn’t believe.

The only thing that hurt more than getting shot with a rock was being verbally harassed by the burnouts. They could make you feel like crap in two sentences flat. Change that–they could do it with one word. Like most bullies they reinforced the obvious. Because I wasn’t allowed to listen to heavy metal or swear, I quickly became known as Holy Shearer–later shortened to just Holy. Shearer (pronounced sheer) also rhymes with another word. Take two seconds to figure it out, and that was another choice insult used masterfully by the burnouts.

In high school, my parents loosened their grip as I began listening to secular music. In 1991 I was reintroduced to Metallica via their Black Album, and after a quick burnout flashback, I actually started to enjoy all of the band’s singles: “Enter Sandman,” “Unforgiven,” “Wherever I May Roam,” and “Sad But True.”

In college I managed to befriend a Metallica fanatic and caught up on the band’s entire back catalog, realizing for the first time the genius of Kill ‘Em All, Ride The Lightning, Master of Puppets, and …And Justice For All.

Would the burnouts be proud of me? Probably not. I’m guessing they would have offered something similar to the following: Duh–if you weren’t so holy you would have listened to all of those Metallica albums years ago!

I bring all of this up, because if you don’t believe in karma or the expression, “What goes around comes around,” you will now.

The irony can be cut with a big Metal Up Your Ass knife, cause the boy that was once mocked for not being allowed to listen to Metallica, was invited to their headquarters last week to interview founding member and drummer, Lars Ulrich.

Metallica’s HQ (that’s headquarters for short) is the business and musical brain center of the bay-area-based thrash legends. Oh how the burnouts would have been jealous as I walked through Metallica’s two huge practice spaces, adorned with countless banners fans have tossed on stage over the years. Not only that, but many of the bands old stage backdrops hang across the walls, including the original one used when Metallica toured in support of Ride The Lightning. Hmm, wonder if the burnouts ever got this close in ’84?

Oh, look over there, it’s the set piece Metallica used for the …And Justice For All tour. Wait, is that a box of James Hetfield’s signature black wristbands? Why yes it is. Whoa, look there’s Lars’ drum kit, Kirk’s rack of guitars, and a whole bunch of lyric sheets with handwritten Metallica scribbles all over them. Wow, here’s James’ lead vocal mic. Since I got a second, why don’t I just lean into this and pretend I’m singing “One” in front of a crowd of thousands. Ouch I just stubbed my toe. Damn these vintage Metallica road cases.

Later, during my interview with Lars, he extended me an invitation to watch Metallica warm-up in their Tuning + Attitude room before they play live on their upcoming tour. Suddenly, memories of wedgies and slingshot welts faded to, uh, black. It may be sad but true for the burnouts, but it looks like there is justice for all in Metallica-land–even for a holy kid who wasn’t allowed to listen to heavy metal music.

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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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