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A Brief Interview With Comedy Death Ray’s Scott Aukerman

A Brief Interview With Comedy Death Ray’s Scott Aukerman (photo)

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Photo: Seth Olenick

Tonight on IFC we are starting off the new year with a bang of new programming: The Larry Sanders Show, Mr. Show with Bob and David, and The Ben Stiller Show all premiere on IFC this week. To accompany our exciting new shows we asked Scott Aukerman from LA’s famed Comedy Death Ray to host a series of interviews with the stars, producers, and writers behind these great comedies. The interviews will be shown during our new comedy blocks that start tonight when Larry Sanders Show hits the air at 11 p.m. ET. Aukerman graciously allowed us to turn the tables on the notorious interviewer and answered a few of our most nosy questions about Comedy Death Ray, a show he may or may not be working on with Patton Oswalt, and why he wants to kill Robert Redford.

IFC Now: I wanted to start this interview off with an easy question. So Scott, how much money do you make?

Scott Aukerman: When I ask people that question, I press them to give a real answer, but most people either give a real answer that sounds like they’re faking or a fake answer. So I’m going to say $600,000 and you can figure out which type of answer that is.

IFC Now: What is the etymology of your catch phrase “What’s up, hot dog?”

Scott Aukerman: I was a guest on my friend Jimmy Pardo’s “Never Not Funny” podcast and they tape right above a 7-11. I was in there right before the taping and overheard a bizarre very uncomfortable conversation that included the phrase “What’s up, hot dog?” I immediately went upstairs and told the entire story and then made it become my catchphrase. But! It’s been retired now. I may have a contest to create a new catchphrase.

IFC Now: How do you describe your show Comedy Death Ray to people who haven’t made it to L.A. recently or ever?

Scott Aukerman: There are no words. None! First the problem is the English language. We would need something more ancient. Cuneiforms perhaps might suffice. But seriously, have you ever seen stand up comedy? It’s one of those.

IFC Now: Who’s your favorite Comedy Death Ray character?

Scott Aukerman: Dismissive Jimmy Stewart.

IFC Now: You are the host of a podcast of the same name, Comedy Death Ray Radio. Who have been some of your favorite guests?

Scott Aukerman: It’s available on iTunes. As opposed to the regulars who are on the show a lot, both Jon Hamm and Weird Al [Yankovic], as famous as those two people are, they are very willing to do anything.

IFC Now: I understand you are also working on a show with Patton Oswalt?

Scott Aukerman: Yes, it exists. We are writing it right now and Fox will decide if they will make it in about a month. It’s funny. It would fall in the category of comedy or maybe drama.

IFC Now: IFC asked you to host a series of interviews with comedians that will air during our new comedy bloc. What can we look forward to in those interviews?

Scott Aukerman: They started out with me getting together with everyone involved in the shows. I originally thought it would be informational, but IFC encouraged me to have fun with the interviews. So I did. For example, I asked Paul F Tompkins three real questions and they never got answered. Ever. There are a bunch of great guests including Judd Apatow, Paul Feig, Janeane Garofalo, [Bob] Odenkirk. Later in the season the interviews and interstitials get even more fun. Other things to look for: In between weeks two and three I will lose 25 pounds.

IFC Now: Wow. What kind of diet was that?

Scott Aukerman: Can’t talk about it.

IFC Now: Let’s just say the ZZ Top diet then. What was your favorite interview?

Scott Aukerman: All the interviews turned out really well. I think it’s because I’m — what do you call it — not a non-com. I worked on one of the shows. I was involved, I know the people. It was an easy interview. People really let down their guard. But, to answer the question: Paul F. Tompkins

IFC Now: Is he right there holding a gun to your head?

Scott Aukerman: Yes.

IFC Now: Paul F. Tompkins it is then. Moving on. Today on Twitter (@IFCdotCom), in relation to the film “The Clearing,” we were asking people a very tough question: Fuck/Marry/Kill Robert Redford, Willem Dafoe, Helen Mirren.

Scott Aukerman: Hmm…FMK all of them in reverse order?

IFC Now: Is that legal in California? Also, no. The rules clearly state no.

Scott Aukerman: Well first, you should never use that language in a professional interview it just gives people an excuse not to read your work. Second, Fuck Mirren since she technically has a vagina. Marry= Defoe because he seems like a stoner and seems like a cool laidback dude. Kill Robert Redford but stage it so it looks like he killed himself via autoerotic asphyxiation.

IFC Now: Bold. A follow up question: F/M/K Todd Margaret, Larry Sanders, or Ben Stiller as Tom Cruise?

Scott Aukerman: Well Ben Stiller has been a movie star for a long time and he really takes care of himself and is the most physically appealing. So fuck him. Marry Larry Sanders. Kill Todd Margaret, because David [Cross] insulted me once.

IFC Now: Do you have a favorite sketch from Mr. Show?

Scott Aukerman: As a fan, the banana episode was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen. They took something that was a throw away at the beginning of the episode and then brought it back at the end. It was just amazing. Also, the live sketches they did while they were trying to get the show made — at the Upfront Theater — were amazing. They made me want to write for them.

IFC Now: And you did write for them, right?

Scott Aukerman: Yes, I worked on Mr. Show for the fourth season and the ill-fated movie.

IFC Now: Of Mr. Show, Larry Sanders, Ben Stiller Show, and Action! Which would you rather watch for all eternity?

Scott Aukerman: Action! Definitely. The title implies excitement. Would you rather watch Airport 77 or Airplane! You would watch “Airplane!” because of the exclamation.

IFC Now: So …Comedy Death Ray! then?

Scott Aukerman: Maybe!

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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.