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Lynn Shelton on “Humpday”

Lynn Shelton on “Humpday” (photo)

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If there were a prize for most outrageous premise at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, Lynn Shelton’s “Humpday” would be ahead of the pack. The film follows Ben (“The Puffy Chair”‘s Mark Duplass) and Andrew (“The Blair Witch Project”‘s Joshua Leonard), two hetero friends who on a drunken night out come up with a plan to shoot themselves having sex with each other as a submission to their local alt-weekly’s annual amateur porn festival — it’s art, you see, and neither is willing to be the one to back down when sobered up the next day. For now, though, “Humpday” will have to settle for being Sundance’s early buzz film, its mix of squirmingly uncomfortable comedy, painfully realistic dialogue and bittersweet exploration of the ins and outs of male friendship and adult relationships winning the love of audiences and potential distributors alike. I sat down with the Seattle-based Shelton, fresh off a meeting with one of the latter, to talk about homemade porn and best bromance.

So… is Humpfest a real event?


And are the films that actually play there as, well, high concept as the one planned in “Humpday”?

I will admit that I have never been to Hump. It’s actually now called Hump — I think it was originally called Humpfest, that’s what I always remembered it being. It’s put on by The Stranger and it just finished its fourth year this October.From what I’ve heard, it’s a wide array. It’s amateur. It really is. Some filmmakers do it under pseudonyms, but I think it really is [mostly] just average people. I’m told that it’s like 75 percent not real porn, a lot of humorous stuff, goofy stuff like Sock Puppet Sex. [There are] some really artistic takes, but it’d be rare to see straight up normal porn. People really take it as an opportunity to play.

Did the festival spark the idea of the film, or did the film come first, with Hump worked in after?

The starting point of the film was Mark Duplass, who was in my same circle of filmmaker friends, but who I’d never met him in person until he came up to Seattle to act in a movie called “True Adolescents.” We found that our philosophies really coincided, and watching him act just completely blew me away. For me, I start with a person and then fish around for ideas and interesting challenges. I have to admit that the sexy hook angle was an attractive one — the idea of having a movie that actually might be marketable, or provide opportunity for some humor and real dramatic tension at the same time. I called Mark and said, essentially, I have this idea: two best friends who were real close in college, they’re a little bit older now, with two different personality types and lifestyles. They get into a situation where they decide that that have to try and have sex — I wasn’t even sure it was going to be making a porn.

01172009_humpday2.jpgMy buddy Joe Swanberg was in town staying with me, and he went to see Hump — with his interest in human sexuality, it was sort of a must-see for him. He was so funny for the next two days. He talked a lot about the gay porn he’d seen. He was really interested in it as a filmmaker and as a straight guy, the feelings it brought up in him as a straight guy…it was intriguing for him because he’d seen gay porn before. He couldn’t stop talking about it. It got my wheels turning. In the back of my head I have these themes I’d love to touch on in work at some point, and one of them has always been the boundaries of sexual identity. I’ve always been very fluid there and so I thought that most people were probably ultimately [the same]. [laugh] But I’ve realized that no, for some people, it’s much more rigid — especially for straight guys. Not all men, for sure, but a lot of straight guys I know seem particularly invested in being reassured and reassuring everybody else around them that they really are straight. So I thought it would be really great to take people who were particularly invested in their sexual identity, especially straight guys, who take each other so seriously and can be so competitive. That was where it all started.


Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.


Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:


The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.


They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!


Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.


Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.



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.