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A Brief Interview With The Whitest Kids U’Know’s Sam Brown

A Brief Interview With The Whitest Kids U’Know’s Sam Brown (photo)

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The fifth and final season of everyone’s favorite sketch comedy show The Whitest Kids U’Know is underway at IFC. We are showing new episodes of one of the wackiest, crassest, and funniest show around every Friday at 10:30 p.m. ET. As an added bonus each episode has another chapter of The Civil War on Drugs, the historical drama that the Kids made to document the journey to legalize marijuana during the war between the states.

As we bid farewell to the Whitest Kids, we are taking some time to chat with each member of the troupe and to get their thoughts on comedy, their favorite moments from the five seasons the series ran on IFC, and the Civil War on Drugs. Today, we talk to Sam Brown. Sam met Trevor and Zach at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. The trio started The Whitest Kids U’ Know during Sam’s first semester at college.

How did you start in comedy?

Really it was when I met Trevor at the Upright Citizens Brigade. I was just watching a show and I got brought up to do one of the interviews that they base their improv on and he saw me and was like hey you’re funny and we both go to SVA. That was when I really started in comedy. Before that it was just cable access …

…Wait, cable access?

I used to skateboard a lot. It was kind of pre-“Jackass” DIY stuff. We grew out of the DIY sketch comedy stuff that they got Jackass from. I had to do something while everyone else was skateboarding, so I could like belong to this world. I started to record some of it and I realized that if I take these free classes at the cable access station, you get access to all the equipment. The show was called “TV Galactica” and we made a bunch of content but we never put it out there.

Would you put it on YouTube if you were putting it out now?

Yeah, but back then it wasn’t as accepted. Part of it was that no one did that in my town. So we would make a shitty “Wayne’s World” type show, but no one saw it, because we wouldn’t put it out there. It was just a way to keep yourself occupied in a boring town.

But eventually you became a YouTube sensation.

We became a comedy troupe before YouTube. There were no YouTube sensations. It was before Funny or Die. Now there is a place for small sketch groups, but back then there was nothing. Like bands, there was always a place but now they can really get big on their own. YouTube and the web are a revolution in recording for bands who are writing their own music.

So could you have been the comedy Justin Bieber of the YouTube world?

Justin Bieber is the Justin Bieber of the YouTube world. We just saw it as a place to put all the videos we had made. It was a place people where could see all the videos we had made. It wasn’t like we needed a million hits it was like we could tell our relatives that they could see them there. Before YouTube, we were hosting them on all our website and it was pay per view basically so we wouldn’t put many things up and it was expensive. So YouTube was great because we could put up everything.

Do you actually encourage your relatives to watch the show?

Yeah, some of the guys come from pretty religious family and they are worried about their relatives seeing the sketches. But my family came to a live show and we did this Hot Air Balloon Poop Rope sketch and my grandmother said that was her favorite sketch.

What are some of the sketches you’re most proud of?

I really liked John Cleese and the Jaws one where it’s just a really simple joke. But my favorite ones to do are the war ones. Because I’m a big fan of war movies and it’s a dream to be in a Vietnam film, so the best thing about a sketch show is that whatever you want to do or be, you can just write it and then for five minutes you can live it. Like the Helicopter Door sketch. Or really any sketch where you get to dress up in army green and march around the woods.

What’s your writing process like?

It’s mostly the five of us getting together and brainstorming. Sometimes we’ll have two ideas and sometimes we’ll have fifteen ideas and nothing is good. It’s a process of just spitting out what you can get out and seeing what works or what gets everyone piling on ideas. When you look at our sketches they are flip floppy and you start out one way and take a big zig zag to take another direction, that comes from the writing process. It’s five people collaborating and trying to make each sketch as funny possible. It’s an open form.

If you had one product from the show, what would it be?

The Jizzle. Did you see the clean up on that?

What is your favorite sketch from season five of WKUK?

Oceans 2. 0 is my favorite sketch, but I’m really excited about how the Civil War On Drugs came out so I would have to say that.

Where did the idea for the “Civil War on Drugs” movie come from?

We had that idea a long time ago, like even before we were a five-person troupe. We just had the name and then we worked backwards from the name. We had this idea where these buddies were going through the Civil War trying to legalize pot and trying to get to Lincoln. We had a script deal with Paramount and they said it’s funny, but no one will ever do it, period. It’s a war pot comedy. It’s too big, too weird. Actually, I can’t remember if it was Paramount who did that or our management, but we were lead to believe that it wouldn’t work. With the TV show we were joking that in the second season we should just made a “Dawson’s Creek”-type show. We would just make a very serious teen drama and then we would go back to sketch the next season. So we were always up for something really different. So when it came to the fifth season, we thought it would be fun and a way to be fresh and to write something really different. We really needed something different and the first things we thought of was the Civil War.

And you’re happy with the result?

Very happy. Not to geek out, but all I ever wanted to do since I was a kid was make a movie. I’ve just been in love with this sort of storytelling since I was so young. I went to film school, I’ve made shorts, but this was so much better. I hope this is how we’re remembered. I was so psyched that IFC was cool enough to get behind this. It’s nothing short of a dream come true.

Based on my interviews with Timmy and Trevor the production of the movie sounded crazy.

Yeah, to do this we had unheard of days. The production was such a crazy cram. It was a fun idea. We all really wanted to do it and all the crew and the art department and the camera and wardrobe were all into it. I think people got really excited about what we were doing. We made it something that they wanted to work on. A longer schedule and, well, a budget would have been a welcome change, but hats off to the crew for helping get this together. They believed in it almost as much as we did. I think they really wanted it and they worked so hard. It wasn’t just another job for them.

If you had to be one of your characters for the rest of your life, who would it be?

I kind of am a character. The Sam that I play on the show is like a heightened dumber version of me. The Sam in the film is also a version of me.

Trevor said that whenever he is laughing on camera it’s because you are dressed up as a woman. Why is that so funny?

Because I am so ugly! I make the worst woman. Not just the least convincing woman, but the woman that is out there is just a mess.

What’s next for you?

Trevor and I have been writing together I’ve been doing stand up. Hopefully I’m going to be working on projects with the four other guys who make up the WKUK and doing different stuff from what we did as a troupe. I wrote a pilot with a friend, which is a little bit more serious. I don’t know what is next.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

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

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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…

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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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.

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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.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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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 IFC.com and the IFC app.

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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

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

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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….

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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.

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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.

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