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Danny McBride, That Funny Dude From That Movie

Danny McBride, That Funny Dude From That Movie (photo)

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Actor and sometime screenwriter Danny McBride has risen to the top of Hollywood’s comedy food chain, having handily stolen scenes from Ben Stiller (“Tropic Thunder”) and Will Ferrell (“Land of the Lost”), and become the headliner of his own series as washed-up baseballer Kenny Powers on HBO’s “Eastbound & Down,” a series he helped conceive. McBride’s success is deserved, though he certainly gets by with a little help from his friends. Long before he was the “thug life”-lovin’ drug supplier in director David Gordon Green‘s “Pineapple Express,” he served as a second unit director on Green’s 2000 arthouse breakthrough “George Washington.” And he wouldn’t have had a cameo in Jody Hill‘s “Observe and Report” if he hadn’t co-wrote and starred in Hill’s indie cult fave “The Foot Fist Way” as a renegade Taekwondo instructor who beats up kids.

Momentarily ditching his usual partners in crime, McBride can next be seen in “Up in the Air,” an Oscar-buzzing new dramedy from “Juno” director Jason Reitman. Based on Walter Kirn’s novel, the film stars George Clooney as a contractor who gets hired to fire corporate employees around the country, and whose chief passion in life is racking up ten million airline miles. In a brief but memorable role, McBride plays Clooney’s brother-in-law to be, a reluctant groom who must be talked down from the proverbial ledge just before his own wedding. By phone, McBride and I spoke about his worst airplane experience, getting away with murder in Hollywood and how his hair is comparable to a famous thespian’s nose.

You’ve probably spent a lot more time in airports and on planes since your career took off, no pun intended. Do you find any pleasure in the mundane processes of travel?

You know, I don’t mind time on a plane. For however long the trip is, people can’t reach you, you don’t have to deal with shit, and you can just sleep and read. I love that. I hate going to airports, though. I don’t really find much satisfaction in going through security.

What’s the worst traveling experience you’ve ever had?

Me and my fiancée tried to fly our cats from Los Angeles to our home in Virginia. It was a fucking nightmare. One of the cats doesn’t like flying at all, so we took him to the vet and he gave us these tranquilizers. All it did was turn him into a drunk monster. He was making these weird growls I’d never heard him do before. Cats have that weird third eyelid that comes out from the middle — that was out. It was horrifying. We threw him out the window.

We’ve all had cold feet about something. Can you think of any monumental indecisions you’ve experienced?

None that have ever come down to the wire like the one for the character I play in the film. I feel like if you’re going to get cold feet at a wedding, it’s probably nice to do it before the rehearsal dinner so people don’t check into hotels and everything.

So your fiancée has nothing to worry about?

No, I own all my decisions. But we’ve been engaged for two years, so I need to figure it out and get moving.

This may be the first film you’ve been a part of that’s getting serious Academy Award buzz. During the production, did you sense that this film might touch the cultural zeitgeist, as it were?

When you make a choice to be in something, you always hope that it resonates with people. There was always something special about this. I remember when I first got the script, when Jason sent it to me, I really responded to it. It was an intelligent piece of work. I liked the tone, and how [Reitman] intercuts real people who’ve been laid off with the rest of the movie. It has really good performances in there from Clooney and Anna [Kendrick] and Vera [Farmiga] and everyone. There’s something captivating about it.

12022009_UpintheAir2.jpgIt’s been famously said of Laurence Olivier that he acted with his nose. For you, however, would it be safe to say that your hair has been one of your comic weapons?

It has been a comic weapon indeed. [laughs] I just have fuckin’ lame hair so it’s easy to make it do weird shit. I think people take advantage of that when they get in the room with me. It’s somewhere between Slim Goodbody in the ’70s and, like, Greg Brady.

Now that you and your pals Jody Hill and David Gordon Green have crossed over into mainstream success, have you felt any added pressure to make creative compromises?

You know, our background is independent film, and I think that spirit is something we will never give way from. We’re somehow finding careers in Hollywood that I don’t think are typical. A lot of times, we look at each other on these different projects we’re on, and it’s like: “These people should not have let us come in here and do this.”

This summer, we shot “Your Highness,” this movie I made with David Green, something that Ben Best and myself wrote. It’s a big fantasy movie, we had Natalie Portman and James Franco, and every single day, David and I would look at each other and be like: “It was ten years ago that we were shooting ‘George Washington,’ and now we’re in Belfast making this thing.”

It’s always good to work with your buddies, especially when you’ve been in the trenches with them on no-budget films, and then you have the luxuries of the big-budget films. We like to keep the same sensibilities and just go for it, make something that’s unexpected, with the freedoms you have when you are on something small like “The Foot Fist Way.”

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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…


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

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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.


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.



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 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….


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.


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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