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DID YOU READ

Judd Apatow drinks PBR as summer burns.

Judd Apatow drinks PBR as summer burns. (photo)

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Friday night, the obnoxious circle-of-easy-liberal-punchlines that is HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” briefly perked up as Judd Apatow dropped by to remind people that “Get Him To The Greek” is an actual movie that’s coming out and people should see it.

First he drank one of the PBRs Maher had gotten as part of a joke about life in Sarah Palin’s Alaska: “I’m a drug addict but I draw the line at that shit,” Maher cracked, indicating he hasn’t been to any shows in Brooklyn lately. They then discussed Apatow’s infallibility (as if last year’s twin financial disasters of “Year One” and “Funny People” had never happened) and Maher — a stand-up buddy of Apatow’s from back in the day — ruefully admitted “now you’ve surpassed me.”

Well, has he? It was the worst June box-office year in five years (and worse if you factor for inflation). Faced with a weekend in which there was no clear stand-out blockbuster — merely “Killers,” “Greek,” “Marmaduke” and “Splice” — the American people loudly asserted their indifference and stayed home. The much-touted return to multiplex movie-going as a response to economic tough times hit a leak.

06072010_killers1.jpg“Greek” performed solidly but unremarkably; as for “Killers” (a movie so cheap and shoddy even its explosions are unconvincing), it was interesting to watch another Apatow associate (Katherine Heigl received a big boost from “Knocked Up,” and she wastes more time on pregnancy tests here) succumb to failure. And yes, talking dogs and gene-spliced babies are still a reasonably tough sell. I suspect that a lot of movies get a boost when not-particularly-picky multiplex-goers, sold out of their intended film, settle for something else. This weekend, there was no movie that was even close to selling out, and the crush that benefits everyone never materialized.

But back to Apatow, the man allegedly better off than Maher. Apatow — who doesn’t really make political statements but whose movies are, as has been widely noted, essentially culturally conservative — was drinking that beer Maher so disapproves of as they discussed drug use. “The point of most of the movies is ‘you don’t want to behave like this,'” Apatow said. “That doesn’t come through,” Maher responded, which is absolutely true; given the amount of time Apatow’s characters spend getting funnier and funnier the more they ingest and abuse, the message isn’t terribly clear.

06072010_knocked.jpgWatching the two old friends and colleagues sit side by side, you couldn’t at least help but breathe a sigh of relief that it was Apatow, not Maher, who blew up. Whatever his flaws, Apatow lacks Maher’s noxious sense of clarity and moral absolutes. The two talked about how much they hung out and how Apatow emulated Maher when he was an up-and-coming comic, but over the years Maher has curdled into a dead-certain semi-libertarian pushing certain inflexible talking points. You get the sense Apatow, too, has a message he wants to push (such as “don’t be a stupid pothead who can’t handle adult life”), but he’s much less certain what that might be or how to present it, which makes his movies much easier to watch even if you disagree with what they’re about.

The most interesting thing about the movies he actually directs is how they’re always pulled in two directions at once: “The 40 Year Old Virgin” is about sex jokes and mocking virgins but also about affirming monogamy, “Knocked Up” is allegedly in favor of marriage but Apatow’s direction of (his wife!) Leslie Mann as a tensely married shrew undercuts his point. The ambivalence was pushed to the max in “Funny People” — a freakishly confessional film with seemingly no filter, with Apatow and co. trying to be honest about the negative problems of the obscenely wealthy — and Apatow’s a better director for it.

Here’s Apatow sharing a beer with Andrew Sullivan, the only other guy at the table drinking. Of course.

[Photos: “Real Time with Bill Maher,” HBO, 2003-present; “Killers,” Lionsgate, 2010; “Knocked Up,” Universal, 2007]

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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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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.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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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:

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.