DID YOU READ

Great Moments in Bad Baseball Movie History

Great Moments in Bad Baseball Movie History (photo)

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“I believe in the church of the baseball,” Susan Sarandon’s Annie Savoy said in “Bull Durham.” I do too. Especially right now in early April, when the weather is perfect, and every team has a chance, at least hypothetically, to go all the way. In a few months, half the teams playing and half the fantasy baseball managers watching will already be thinking about next year. But this is the time of year when every baseball fan gets excited, has hope, and believes.

I also like to believe in the church of baseball movies, but they make it awfully difficult sometimes. There are some classics, but just as there are more bad pitchers in the league than good ones, there’s more bad baseball movies than good, and more than a few that deserve to be sent back down to the minors because they weren’t cut out for the big show. Here, now, some classic moments from bad baseball movies that left me offended, slightly bemused, and very glad I have the real thing to watch instead for the next six months.

04122010_MattLeBlancEd.jpgA Monkey Becomes The Best Player in the Game in “Ed” (1996)

You’ve heard the expression “It’s so easy a monkey could do it!”? The tortuously bad movie “Ed” takes that maxim all too literally. The Santa Rosa Rockets and their new young pitcher Jack Cooper (Matt LeBlanc) are struggling, so their owner gets the team a mascot to boost morale: a live chimp. To everyone’s surprise, the chimp, who answers to the name Ed and wears human clothes, is a natural baseball player. Not only does he understand the game, he also seems to understand English, pees in the toilet and is a great wingman on dates. When the Rockets’ manager Chubb (Jack Warden) tries to field his monkey at third base and the other team complains, Ed’s struggle becomes a matter of civil rights. “Baseball is America’s game!” the umpire ultimately rules. “Every American regardless of race, creed, color, species, body hair and brain size has the right to play the game!” Fine. But the Rockets should have looked a little more carefully at their phenom. He throws the ball to first base so hard it actually burns a hole through the fielder’s glove, which would seem to make him more of a liability than an asset. I guess screenwriting isn’t so easy a monkey could do it.

04122010_Benchwarmers.jpgProduct Placement Hits a New Low in “The Benchwarmers” (2006)

There’s a subtle, organic way to do product placement in baseball movies — stick a couple banners on the park’s outfield wall and you’re halfway home. Granted, product placement is rarely subtle or organic, but the way it’s used in the inspirational underdog baseball comedy “The Benchwarmers” sets a new standard for offensive obviousness. After a couple of misfits (played by Rob Schneider, David Spade and Jon Heder) win a baseball game against a couple of neighborhood bullies, it’s time to bask in their glory. “You know the best part about winning a baseball game?” asks Schneider to his dopey teammates. “Going to Pizza Hut to celebrate!” From there, the Hut provides the location for several scenes, and a nickname for Spade’s love interest (that would be “Salad Girl From Pizza Hut”). The Benchwarmers learn some life lessons, eat a lot of sunscreen, teach Craig Kilborn that baseball’s supposed to be about fun, and then triumph in their own unique style at the final game. So where do you think they go for the postseason party? You guessed it. Instead of paying for movies like “The Benchwarmers” to get made, why don’t companies set up relief funds to reimburse people who actually pay to see them? I’m sure they’d get plenty of unsubtle attention and much more organic PR.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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-Craft

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?”

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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).

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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.

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