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From “My Girl” to “The Good Guy”

From “My Girl” to “The Good Guy” (photo)

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Though you might remember Anna Chlumsky as the perky child star of “My Girl” and “Gold Diggers,” you can stop pretending that the 29-year-old actress is still a kid. After some years off from acting, during which she pursued a different career altogether, Chlumsky resurfaced on both the small screen (with appearances on “30 Rock” and last year’s “Cupid”) and the big one (the Oscar-nominated “In the Loop”). Next up for her is writer-director Julio DePietro’s romantic dramedy “The Good Guy,” starring Alexis Bledel as an urban conservationist in Manhattan who is torn between two Wall Street traders (Scott Porter and Bryan Greenberg), one of whom works for the other. In a brief but memorable supporting role, Chlumsky plays one of Bledel’s upwardly mobile friends who has just been burned in the New York dating game. In support of the film, Chlumsky called me to discuss dating, bars, what brought her back into acting, and how a TV theme song used to get her through the day.

When there are so many smart, artistic professionals in New York City, why do women still complain about how hard it is to date here?

I’ve been lucky to not have had to do the whole dating fiasco in New York because I’ve been with my husband for quite some time. But a lot of my girlfriends talk about how difficult this city is for them to find good men. In New York, people are driven and ambitious and they know themselves really well as far as what their goals are, so I think they turn love into a goal: “I want this, this, this and this,” as if they would order from a menu. Then they get angry that that order comes burnt. [laughs] New Yorkers are used to getting what they want, and what the best of relationships teach us is that sometimes it’s not necessarily about compromise, but freeing yourself up for the things you haven’t thought of. It’s not a control-driven game, romance and love.

02172010_GoodGuy1.jpgSome of your scenes take place in bars, and in another interview, you jokingly referenced your past as a “boozehound.” I’m curious what your favorite New York haunts are in real life.

My favorite place, Circus, is now closed. It just got shut up and we don’t know what happened to it. For a cheap dive, I enjoy hanging around in Hell’s Kitchen, especially if it’s after a show. I also love our new neighborhood place, The Brooklyn Public House — it’s fantastic. Sometimes, when you want to partake in this whole cocktail culture that they’ve got going now, [my husband] Shaun and I like Freemans. I’m also appreciating the resurgence of bourbon bars and rye. I’m talking like a boozehound still, but maybe I’m refining myself a little more. [laughs]

The movie’s soundtrack is packed with indie rock. Does that mesh with your own musical tastes?

I’m such a square. I’m not as hip as anybody who’s over the [Williamsburg] Bridge. I might be totally behind the times — like, they may have been cool two years ago, I don’t know — but I really like The Coral, out of Liverpool. There is an amazing Brooklyn band that we love, The Budos Band. We played them on our iTunes at our wedding. I always have a lot of Brazilian music on my iPod, like Daniela Mercury, and also Columbian stuff, like Carlos Vives. Oh, and Lily Allen, I love her!

Anybody who writes about you always feels the need to use the phrase “former child actor.” As an adult who still acts, do you feel there’s a stigma to that term?

I certainly do, but you just have to embrace what you can’t control. How am I going to control how people refer to me? I used to be an editor, I considered journalism — and even more marginalized, entertainment journalism. It has its own rules and style. The first thing that I think journalists do, and you can tell me this or not, is to remind people exactly what they would know this person from. So it’s just another variable: “Oh, we can stick that one in there so people can put her in context.” I learned not to take it personally that people still want me to be ten years old. [laughs]



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.


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.