I discovered the many talents of Leah Hayes one after the other, by accident or happenstance, or because I live in Brooklyn. Maybe it was witchery. But last Fall/late summer it began and hasn’t stopped. First, and I don’t recall how, I came across her band Scary Mansion. Contrary to my initial impression of the name, which immediately conjured the best time of my life at Disney’s Haunted Mansion, the band’s sound is a matured haunting. Beautiful but grave, Leah Hayes delivers stark vocals on the verge of breaking over organs, guitars, drums, in the room with the locked door down an impossibly long hall.
Not long after hearing Scary Mansion, atop a house show’s roof one night in Brooklyn, Leah Hayes appeared. In the dark all I could really see was her glasses. Having a mutual appreciation of appropriately sized spectacles we began to speak in the shadow of a colossal two-towered Cathedral that dwarfed everything around for several blocks. She struck me as incredibly well spoken and well adjusted.
Later that night I witnessed, in a sweaty candlelit living room, her transformation into something altogether different. And upon the wooden floor, with various gadgets strewn about, she knelt by a candle, wearing a mask and began to sing strange laments. The animated doll of a mastermind girl child. A skinny spell caster pouting out lewd stories set to spare drum beats and damaged melodies. This incarnation of Hayes is aptly called Bad Lobotomy.
A few weeks later, in a bookstore an odd graphic novel caught my eye. It was “Funeral of the Heart,” by Leah Hayes because she does illustration for a living (McSweeney’s, Punk Planet) and has two books published with Fantagraphics. She just returned from a Scary Mansion tour in Europe where she opened for Will Oldham and signed with the French label Talitres. The debut record is called “Every Joke is Half The Truth” already out on Zum records and a new one is in the works. Her twin sister sings with her at live shows. You can also hear her vocals on TV On the Radio’s album Return to Cookie Mountain.
As for Bad Lobotomy, Hayes has started her own label called, Bad Lobotomy Records, and a record is due out in June. Check the myspace and dig the song “Give Me A Twenty” too.
I’m sure there will be need to follow up on Hayes and her varied endeavors. One gets the feeling she keeps an apothecary cabinet of many drawers, some filed with wonder, others with horror. If she let’s you open one, what will you find?
“Combine,” Bad Lobotomy.
Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.
Put A Bird On It
Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.
Colin the Chicken
Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.
Dream Of The ’90s
This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.
No You Go
We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.
We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.
One More Episode
The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.
Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.
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…
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.
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).
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.
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
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.
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!
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.