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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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.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.