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A Brief Interview With Rhett and Link, Commercial Kings

A Brief Interview With Rhett and Link, Commercial Kings (photo)

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Tonight at 10 p.m. ET “Rhett & Link: Commercial Kings” premieres on IFC. The show follows lifelong best friends, Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal as they travel the country making commercials for deserving local businesses. The duo are bonafide YouTube superstars with more than 90 million combined video views. Tonight they will now bring their skills to a national television audience.

We sat down with Rhett and Link to talk about commercials, colonics, and showering separately.

Can you tell us a bit about yourselves?

Link: We’ve been best friends since first grade, so we have the same interests. But he has a beard. He’s taller, too. We’re both from a little town called Buies Creek in North Carolina and we met the first day of first grade. We’ve been friends ever since.

Wait …does that mean your Wikipedia entry is actually true?

Link: We brag about that at parties.

Rhett: We wrote it ourselves.

Link: I don’t think you’re supposed to admit that.

Rhett: Link is more anal than I am. Also, shorter.

Link: I’m shorter, but smarter.

Where did the idea to make local commercials start?

Link: It started …well we had been making web videos for a few years. Then we had an idea to make a spoof of a local commercial. We had access to a seafood warehouse …

You had access to a seafood warehouse?

Link: We were on an Alka Seltzer sponsored road trip and we were making food related videos. And we wanted to make a spoof of it with Christopher Walken trying to do a Boston accent. It was horrible. Rhett was in a lobster suit. We posted it online and called it the worst local commercial ever. Then we started to get a lot of comments from people asking, “Is this real?” People wanted it to be real.

Rhett: People really responded to it so we decided to start making real local commercials for real businesses with real people. From that came the series “I Love Local Commercials” and we put them on YouTube. Real businesses, real employees.

Link: If you search for local commercials, you find people doing spoofs. Not real actors, not real business. We were the only people doing actual local commercials for real businesses with real people. Once we started doing them we kind of cracked the code.

What’s your favorite commercial so far?

Link: Red House Furniture. You can have a different favorite, Rhett. For me, combining racial reconciliation with furniture was a dream come true. Then it got re-tweeted by Weird Al.

Rhett: I have to go with Rudy the used car salesman. The reason that is my favorite is because Rudy is from Cuba and he is a gynecologist and keeps a stethoscope in his desk at the used car lot. We didn’t go in there thinking, oh let’s make this guy a gynecologist. Truth is stranger than fiction. Wherever we go there are small businesses needing help. There’s a hot yoga studio in Sacramento owned by a couple who are over 70 years old. Bill has a military background. He used to teach people to kill now to heal. We created the most carnage-laden yoga commercial ever.

What is your process making these local commercials?

Link: We show up in town, assess the marketing challenges, get to know the business owners personally. We ask a lot of questions. When we were making the Holiday Hotel for Cats ad in L.A., which will be featured in the first episode, we saw that Margaret spoke audibly to the cats. We were trying to figure out how to incorporate that and we realized, if she speaks to cats, why not bypass the cat owners and go directly to the cats? Then we had to figure out how do you get a cat to look at the screen? The ad became for cats by cats.

Rhett: Margaret only speaks in these general MEOW noises. So we brought in a cat psychic to read the thoughts of the cats and she spoke to the cats telepathically — or she thinks she is. The cats wrote the script for the commercial.

Link: Usually within 48 hours we’ve got the whole commercial. It’s just like “48 Hours.” I’m Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy is Rhett.

Have you ever used any of the services you advertise?

Rhett: Just this morning I came back from a hot yoga class. You have to experience the businesses first hand to understand the challenges and opportunities faced by each owner. It’s market research. Once we were doing a commercial for a hydro-colonic place and we let them colonize us. On camera. We got our colons hydrated. Haven’t made another appointment, but I’m thinking about it.

Link: It’s all in the name of market research. You’ll see on the show that we made an ad for a biodegradable casket company called Bury Me Naturally. We decided that one of us needed to be buried alive to test the product and Rhett s too big. The one thing I learned: Next time I’ll be buried is when I’m dead.

Rhett: We had to dig him up.

People frequently say your ads are made on a shoestring budget, but how little does it actually cost to make one of your spots?

Link: Most are free. We bring our own equipment.

Rhett: In the Presidential Car Wash commercial we got them to dress up as the presidents featured on Mt. Rushmore, so we had to buy the president costumes. It was worth the expense. They were rapping presidents. You wanted them to look the part.

When you are making the commercials do you ever think, oh man, if we had more money I would add this.

Link: We embrace the shoe-string budget. We like being limited by the constraints. It inspires creativity. I don’t know what we would spend money on. We don’t hire actors. We see budget constraints as a personal challenge. We’re like survivalist local commercial directors.

Rhett: When we made the Heavy Hill commercial. He had a pet mule! We’re not going to show up somewhere where someone has a mule and not use the mule.

Link: But he can’t be a mule, he has to a unicorn. He had a bunch of aluminum foil and we took a paper towel roll and his mule becomes the trashicorn.

What major corporation would you like to make an ad for?

Link: We don’t really want to work for a corporation, however we do aspire to one day make a barbecue sauce that doubles as a cologne and we would like to promote that ourselves. We would like to create a cologne barbecue sauce benchmark of success.

Rhett: I think someone should let us do a Superbowl commercial. They would pay for the airtime and we would show one of our ads.

Do your parents understand what you do for a living?
Rhett: Yes, they do. It took a couple of explanations, but now they get it.

Your songs, like such as the Facebook Song and the American Idol Song have proven to be among their most popular videos, do you have musical training at all?

Link: We have hours upon hours of experience listening to the radio and singing in the shower.

Rhett: Separately. We sing in the shower separately.

“Rhett & Link: Commercial Kings” premieres tonight on IFC at 10 p.m ET; You can watch live with Rhett & Link on IFC.com at 10:30 p.m. ET

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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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