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Exclusive download & interview: John Congleton’s urgent The Nighty Nite

Exclusive download & interview: John Congleton’s urgent The Nighty Nite (photo)

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If Dimples, the name of the debut EP by the Texas band The Nighty Nite, suggests a certain romantic sweetness, you’re going to be disappointed. Led by former Paper Chase frontman and producer extraordinare John Congleton, The Nighty Nite fills Dimples with references to cancer, murder and greed, all delivered with the sort of Pentecostal urgency that makes you feel like bad things are just around the corner.

But these songs actually have enough punch and potency to wipe a smile across your face, with hooks that are built for the big time and then hurled with magnetizing gusto. Only the beginning of what Congleton hopes becomes a much bigger body of work, Dimples is a beautiful, brutal collection that makes you want more immediately after their thundering cover of The Magnetic Fields’ “Meaningless” ends.

We spoke with Congleton about The Nighty Nite by e-mail. You can download the EP’s first track, “Dimes in Their Dimples,” here.

How long have the songs on Dimples been written?

A real long while. That’s actually why I chose to release these songs, because they were so old, written before any band other than The Paper Chase was in my life. These were around and just kinda sitting there with no home.

How did the The Nighty Nite come together, and what input did the band as a unit have on writing/recording these songs?

I’m a busy guy, so I just write whenever I can. I kinda just peck away at things in hotels or late at night, after sessions. Everything we have been playing was stuff put together long before I had band members in mind. Once I did have people pieced together, I just sent them demos. We had to practice to see how we would get along playing together. I knew there was a real danger of it seeming too much like a studio creation, which there is a saturation of right now. I wanted us to be able to be a real good live band.

How do you see this work relative to The Paper Chase–a continuum or a departure, and why?

A continuum. Everything I do is similar and feels like one long narrative to me.

There’s sickness and thoughts of adultery and accusations of commercial wastefulness here: What connects them?

In my personal interests and creative life, I’ve always been drawn to hyperbolic situations and extreme characters. I like my life to be placid and calm, but I’m attracted to drama in art and in humanity. That’s the only connection I can really make with any validity. I’m a
happy person, but my music never sounds that way.

Is there one lyric or moment you’re proud of here, either as a writer or band member or both?

I really like the lyric “In my hospital gown directing traffic somewhere downtown” because it’s such a short, colorful sentence. It’s disgusting and cute, funny and sad, hopeful and miserable–all at the same time. I feel like I’m always trying to do things like combine opposites and see if they can live harmoniously in music. The Paper Chase was like that a lot to me as well.

You seem interested in a combination of noise and tunefulness. Who are other writers and composers who accomplish this for you?

Wow, great question because that’s truly what interests me–things that are almost beautiful or slightly crippled melodies. Awesome melodies played poorly or awkwardly is like a musically crystalized humanity to me. We are flawed but some of us can be so beautiful in those flaws. I think that Scott Walker has really nailed that with The Drift, Lou Reed with Berlin.

When did you first hear “Meaningless,” and why do you feel it’s appropriate as the closing statement of this band’s first release?

In The Paper Chase, we had a member who was a Magnetic Fields fan. It took me a real long while to get it, but once I heard 69 Love Songs, my interest grew. “Meaningless” is simply a song I wish I wrote. I think it’s positively superb and a perfect ha-ha, wink-wink for this band, even if I’m the only one who gets the joke. I think people will get the punch line once more music comes out from The Nighty Nite. The songs we’ve been preforming live that have been written directly for the band are really zeroing in on how “meaningless” existence can feel but at the same time jabbing myself for being a navel gazer. It’s all very funny to me, like a black comedy. I enjoy the beauty of philosophy and science but adore the absurdity of it.

What’s next for the band?

I wanna play more, and that’s the plan. We’re gonna be recording an LP as soon as I have enough time to figure out what time zone I’m in.



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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GIFs via Giphy

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.”


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. 


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.


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…


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.


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 ’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?”


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).



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.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.