DID YOU READ

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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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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