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SXSW 2009: The “It” Factor

SXSW 2009: The “It” Factor (photo)

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Though he left out the explanation from his film for fear that it might sound too New Agey, Alex Karpovsky spent part of the Q&A that followed his documentary/concert film “Trust Us, This is All Made Up,” talking about how his subjects, the Chicago-based improv duo of TJ Jagodowski and Dave Pasquesi, believe in a universal superconsciousness that they simply call the “It.” Jagodowski and Pasquesi weren’t on hand to explain the shared wavelength themselves, but the gist is that if they can simply get their collective egos out of the way, their one-hour set comes naturally, as if it unfurls in front of them. “It” is a big thing at this year’s SXSW festival, where many of the biggest highlights of the fest so far have been from laffers, big and small.

A few streets over at the Paramount, “I Love You, Man” premiered Friday, and the cast and crew reunited the next morning for a panel about the bromantic comedy that may have run slightly late, but festival coordinator Janet Pierson assured the crowd that it would “definitely be worth the wait.” Anything including director John Hamburg, Paul Rudd, Jaime Pressly, Jason Segel, Rashida Jones and Jon Favreau couldn’t disappoint — unless one counts when Favreau prompted Segel to tell a really dirty child-related joke from the set and Hamburg wouldn’t let him. (Segel promised it would appear on a future episode of “How I Met Your Mother.”) Still, the cast and crew were game for most anything: the panel started with a computer malfunction that left the sound off the film’s trailer, and so Rudd tried to improvise his own dialogue (Sample: When Andy Samberg gives J.K. Simmons a fist bump, Rudd exclaimed, “You were great in ‘Juno’!”) As moderator Mark Olsen of the L.A. Times took control of the situation, the panel settled in with questions about what Hamburg, who worked on this film for nearly a decade, thought about the fact that now that Judd Apatow has cornered the bromance movie, to which Segel leapt in with, “10 years ago, I would’ve been Judge Reinhold.”

03162009_ILoveYouManPanel.jpgAlthough Reinhold was nowhere to be seen, Favreau received a round of applause when he explained why he felt it was important for him to come to SXSW, comparing “I Love You, Man” to his own early comedies that needed more attention and cited the festival’s great track record of getting word of mouth out on the film via Twitter and web sites. He also got some of the biggest laughs of the panel when talking about his role in the film, as one half of a married couple who bicker constantly. When his onscreen better half Pressly reiterated her character’s gripes about him — having a jewfro and a tiny penis — Favreau responded, “It was a Daniel Day Lewis transformation, having a small penis,” before seriously adding that had he been in more films with ensembles like this one, he likely never would’ve become a director. Segel seconded that when he cited the many connections amongst the cast — Favreau and Hamburg had both directed episodes of Segel’s one-time sitcom “Undeclared” and Rashida Jones had appeared with Segel on “Freaks and Geeks.” As for the bromance onscreen, Rudd just said he liked how the script wasn’t mean-spirited and didn’t include typical movie alpha males, confessing, “I’m not even a beta male.”

03162009_SpacesuitJonesRock.jpgDuncan Jones’ “Moon” may not be a comedy, but with Jones and star Sam Rockwell attending Saturday night’s preview of the sci-fi film, there was no lack of entertainment value during the Q&A. Days before a screening at NASA where he said “I’ll be asking the questions and they’re giving me the answers,” Jones took to the stage in a yellow space-suit and introduced Sam Rockwell as “my entire cast.” Indeed (if you haven’t read about the film’s premiere at Sundance), Rockwell flies solo as an astronaut coming to terms with the idea he might not be coming home as planned and mentioned “Dead Ringers” and “Midnight Cowboy” as unlikely inspirations for when his character begins to talk to himself. The “Galaxy Quest” star was at a bit of a loss for words when asked by an audience member whether he had made anything about the fact that he tends to excel in movies about space, but there was a truly eerie moment when another asked about why the robot that is the astronaut’s only companion, voiced in the film by Kevin Spacey, wasn’t as villainous as onscreen predecessors like “2001: A Space Odyssey”‘s HAL 9000, the microphone made a strange, pulsating buzzing noise, a moment that left some in the audience fearing that the computers had finally taken over and others laughing hysterically, convinced that “It” happened.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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SO EXCITED!!!

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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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.”

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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. 

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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.