This browser is supported only in Windows 10 and above.


Christopher Guest’s new mockumentary will divide America.

Christopher Guest’s new mockumentary will divide America. (photo)

Posted by on

I felt bad for ignoring the Golden Globes once I found out the U.S. Census Bureau ran a commercial featuring the all-star likes of Bob Balaban and Ed Begley Jr., the first part of their effort to try and make sure people will fill out those damn forms. The puzzling commercial, it seems, is the opening salvo of a five-commercial campaign directed by Christopher Guest. This does not please me.

In writing this up, The Los Angeles Times‘ Dan Neil raises a number of cogent points. The main problem, as he points out, is that the spot in general does nothing to reach out to those reluctant to fill out the form in the first place: the illegal immigrants, the impoverished, the preternaturally suspicious. Per Jeff Tarakajian – the executive VP of the advertising agency in charge of the campaign — this leg of the census advertising blitz is to reach the 84% of Americans inclined to fill out the forms but who get lazy about it. “You’ve got to start with the base,” he says. Specialized campaigns in 27 languages, a NASCAR sponsorship et al., will follow.

However, I have a whole other problem with the campaign: I don’t think Christopher Guest is funny. Okay, so the Stonehenge bit in “This Is Spinal Tap” is a total winner, but “Best In Show” and “For Your Consideration” are two of the more excruciatingly non-hilarious comedies I’ve ever grinded my teeth through. And I know what you’re going to say: “Dude, you’ve never seen ‘Waiting For Guffman’? What the hell?” And I will someday, I swear — but even if it is, as I’ve been promised, his one true landmark, that wouldn’t change my opinion of his body of work as a whole. Like, I love three Kurosawa movies out of the 16 I’ve seen; that doesn’t mean I really like Kurosawa as a whole.

01222010_foryourconsideration.jpgSo even with Guest’s extended three-minute mockumentary spoof that’s currently on YouTube, I wasn’t chuckling. Nor were many others, given its 2,000 views after 5 days, which is pretty pathetic for a national ad campaign. (They should’ve just had Star Wars Kitteh speak for the Census or something.)

But the ads’ biggest stumbling block is the inherent irony of appealing to the American masses by showing how much Hollywood types are out of touch with Americans in such a way that it’s almost meta. It’s part of the genre of Hollywood spoofery that’s supposed to be inside baseball, but uses such well-established tropes that it’s toothless. Take for the example, the profile of fauxteur Payton Schlewitt (played by Begley Jr.), which throws around knee-slappers like “My favorite films are the films that I made. Probably because each is such an intensely personal statement. Especially the ones that grossed over $100 million.” Even with Guest regulars like Jennifer Coolidge and Michael Hitchcock traipsing around, it’s unlikely to appeal to anyone but angry conservatives whose worldview this seems to fit into nicely.

And don’t worry, they’re on it already: the comments streaming through the Times page largely resemble the sentiments of “AZ Resident,” who posted “Protest illegal aliens in America….do not return your census form, do not answer questions if they come knocking. Every form not turned in negates the form sent in by an illegal alien. I know there’s at least 20 – 25 people in my family who won’t participate.” Now let’s see Guest make a comedy out of that.

[Photos: ad campaign screengrab; “For Your Consideration,” Warner Independent Pictures, 2006.]


Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

Posted by on


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.

Posted by on
GIFs via Giphy

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.

Posted by on
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.