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DID YOU READ

Bill Murray teaches us how to leave the room.

Bill Murray teaches us how to leave the room. (photo)

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We’re living through a golden age of Bill Murray interview — which is to say he’s actually doing them. On TV, Letterman‘s the only host sharp and pissy enough to keep up with a guy whose public appearances almost always involve some kind of performance art element.

Many comedians have a reputation for being self-loathing and/or hard to deal with; Murray, though, is almost scary, as in the much-bandied-about story where Murray comes up to someone in a park, puts his hands over their eyes, then says “no one will ever believe you” and walks away.

Even when he’s inexplicably serving drinks to the SXSW crowd, there’s something there a little hard and off-putting. If Murray had been born 20 years later, he could’ve given Vincent Gallo a run for his money.

As Dan Fierman notes in his GQ interview with Murray, the man has “sat down for exactly four prolonged media encounters in the past ten years.” After his own encounter had gone on for long enough, Murray “decided the interview was over and was gone. As best as I can tell, he was not fucking with me. But who knows?”

No one does, really. Still, for a man who often treats his TV appearances as a semi-hostile game, the GQ interview is very straightforward. He doesn’t tell a single joke, which clarifies a lot. It turns out that Murray’s special brand of candid response (the result, we presume, of not having a handler to tell him to hold his tongue — what does he have to fear?) is inherently hilarious.

His long explanation of how he came to be involved in the “Garfield” movies is despairingly eloquent, a study in profane resignation (“It wasn’t written by that Joel Coen“). He mentions how “Kung Fu Hustle” blew him away and how Elvis Mitchell changed his life (really!).

But hanging over everything is his SNL time; specifically, the knowledge that he’s been the most productive survivor of the early years. John Belushi’s dead (he can’t even remember exactly how many years it is), Chevy Chase is back on “Community” after an indefinite direct-to-DVD purgatory, Dan Aykroyd’s ranting about UFOs on CNN and as for Garrett Morris, Jane Curtin, Laraine Newman and the rest of the gang… well, you get the idea. Murray’s the last man standing.

There’s a point to Murray’s elusiveness, game-playing and willingness to leave without a second’s notice. It’s about dignity — as he points out, he’s “retired” a few times (the “Ghostbusters” money surely doesn’t hurt).

07192010_larger.jpgIn the ’90s, he carried otherwise unremarkable movies to moments of inspiration (and if you don’t believe me, watch him somehow survive the man-bonds-with-elephant movie “Larger Than Life” with a few laughs intact). Then he was a sad arthouse man, and now he’s entered another phase, one in which his public persona takes up just as much (if not more) cultural space than his movies.

That’s what leaving the room with dignity is about: his once equally talented colleagues couldn’t figure it out, so they had to burn out publicly. Over the years, Murray’s made himself more opaque and menacing. He’s a comedian who inspires love and fear in almost equal measure. And that’s how you get to leave the room whenever you want: because people don’t want you to leave yet, and you scare them just a little.

[Photos: “Get Low,” Sony Pictures Classics, 2009; “Garfield,” Twentieth Century Fox, 2004; “Larger Than Life,” MGM/UA Home Entertainment, 1996]

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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.