This browser is supported only in Windows 10 and above.


Why do cult comedies have such trouble in theaters?

Why do cult comedies have such trouble in theaters? (photo)

Posted by on

When “Mystery Team” opened in August of last year, I wondered aloud whether the DERRICK Comedy troupe could build on their following from YouTube to lure audiences in to see their very funny comedy on the big screen. As full-capacity screenings over the weekend in Los Angeles proved, they could — to some extent. As far as the film’s theatrical run, things never quite kicked into second gear.

What was mildly depressing as I stood in the long line in front of the New Beverly Cinema was the fact that “Mystery Team” is part of a breed of films that usually enjoys success only when they hit home video and cable, despite the fact they play best with a huge crowd. (Not so coincidentally, these screenings coincided with the film’s DVD release.) There was, of course, an irony to Donald Glover shouting “Let’s get krunk!” before the film started to roll, but also an appropriate temperature taking of the room as it was about to get krunk indeed.

Full of increasingly familiar faces like “Parks and Recreation”‘s Aubrey Plaza, “The Office”‘s Ellie Kemper and “Saturday Night Live”‘s Bobby Moynihan, “Mystery Team” is far from the one-note affair it appears as on paper. The premise is simple: a group of overgrown kid detectives (Glover, Dominic Dierkes and D.C. Pierson) used to helping find cats are faced with something considerably more daunting when they’re asked to solve a murder. The trio refuse to let their innocence be corrupted as they naively find themselves in strip clubs and crack dens in search of the killer. The trailer:

The film has its share of gross-out humor to make the most of its adults-in-kid-bodies scenario, but it also cleverly builds upon its gags, both with wordplay and with visual touches, in a way that will surely play well for friends huddled around TVs and computer screens yet become transcendental when seen at a movie theater.

06012010_MysteryTeamNewBeverly.jpgAs HitFix’s Drew McWeeny wrote when he interviewed DERRICK’s Dan Eckman, Dierkes and Pierson recently, these guys did everything but pop the popcorn to try and attract people during “Mystery Team”‘s half-year run around the country, and their distributor Roadside Attractions came up with what seemed like a savvy distribution strategy to target college towns where interest should’ve been high.

Still, the daring of both the filmmakers in making a genuinely amusing and audacious debut and the distributor in trying something different wasn’t rewarded. And this trend isn’t limited to indies — although “MacGruber” broke the mold with an unapologetically nasty send-up of ’80s action flicks that was more fun than it had any right to be (though Matt Zoller Seitz disagreed, as did A.O. Scott, who refuses to believe the movie exists), it won’t come close to making its money back theatrically (after advertising is tacked on) despite a relatively paltry $10 million price tag.

Movie City News’ David Poland suggested “MacGruber” might’ve been a perfect test case for a day-and-date release on VOD, which would seem to be the future of the genre, as it is with most other films that can’t afford and can’t explain their appeal in a 30-second TV spot. (When it comes to marketing comedies, Fox Searchlight has no peer, but even they might be in for a tough haul with “Cyrus,” the Duplass brothers’ shaggy laffer. The film boasts recognizable stars in Jonah Hill, John C. Reilly and Marisa Tomei, but has taken to the streets with “Don’t F**k My Mom” T-shirts which repeats one of the film’s funniest lines, yet doesn’t exactly convey the thoughtful, mature romantic comedy it actually is.)

06012010_gethimtothegreek.jpgStrangely, this apathy towards feature comedy comes not only as sitcoms and sites like Funny or Die are thriving, but as some of the most assured and innovative voices in years are starting to make their mark in movies. Besides the Apatow gang, which has “Get Him to the Greek” coming out this week and will produce The State alum David Wain’s next feature “Wanderlust,” you’ve got directors like the Duplass brothers, Nicole Holofcener (“Please Give”), Armando Iannucci (“In The Loop”), Jody Hill (“Observe and Report”) and Alex Holdridge (recently tipped for Fox Searchlight’s buzzed-about comedy “The F-Word” after the impressive “In Search of a Midnight Kiss”) making smart, appealing comedies that are appreciated long after they leave theaters.

Not all of these filmmakers would be considered cult per se, but they have found audiences, even if it’s on Netflix since they’ve got the goods, although the dwindling interest in discovering them on the big screen is no laughing matter.

[Photo: “Mystery Team,” Roadside Attractions, 2009; “Get Him to the Greek,” Universal Pictures, 2010]

Watch More

WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

Posted by on

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

Watch More

Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

Posted by on
GIFs via Giphy

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.

Watch More

G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

Posted by on

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.

Watch More