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“Whisker Wars”: Meet Miletus

“Whisker Wars”: Meet Miletus (photo)

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Before the new episode of “Whisker Wars” kicks off tonight at 11 p.m. ET, we want to introduce you to one of the cast members, Miletus Callahan-Barile. Perhaps you recognize him from TV? Or perhaps from the Whisker Wars premiere party where he graciously (and loudly) emceed our beard and mustache competition? When not emceeing, Miletus and his beard, The Donegal, are proud members of the Austin Facial Hair Club and compete in the partial beard category of the international beard competition circuit. Although, he has a few things to say about that:

What bearding category do you compete in?

Well, my beard, The Donegal, isn’t recognized in most competitions. It doesn’t get its own category in most competitions. I have to compete in partial beard, even though The Donegal is the original beard.

You’re a river boat captain. Do you have to have that job because of your beard? Or do you have your beard because of your job?

Neither. It’s one of those synchronous moments they just came together kind of randomly. I had The Donegal before with other jobs, but other jobs don’t appreciate facial hair and I don’t appreciate those jobs.

How long does it take you to grow a beard?

It takes me a really long time. I have super dense really curly hair. I’ve been growing it for a long time.

Could you compete in the other categories, like full beard natural?

I could compete, but it’s not me. It doesn’t work with me. Every beard is unique to their personality, like a snowflake. I need a beard that represents that. I like a more difficult road. The Donegal doesn’t get a lot of respect.
It’s the original beard. I have to fight for it to get any respect.

Do you appreciate that fight?

Yeah, it’s a lot more fun and it makes me unique It takes a real punk rocker to rock The Donegal.

Do you always call your beard “The Donegal”?
Yes. It deserves the respect. People don’t respect it, but it really is the original beard. People call it a chin strap or neck beard or Abraham Lincoln or an Alaskan whaler. That was a category in the World Competition and also up at the Mr. Fur Face competition up in Alaska. Interestingly enough Shamrock, Texas has been throwing a competition since 1938 and their competition is just for The Donegal. Every man in Shamrock, from New Years to St. Patty’s Day has to grow a beard. The Donegal. If you don’t want to grow a beard, you have to get a “clean shaven” permit. There’s a great documentary on the town called “To Grow a Beard”

Have you gone to Shamrock?

Not yet. It’s a small town out in the panhandle of Texas.

How did you get into the world of competitive facial hair growing?

I used to be part of a satirical magazine called Misprint and we would throw events every time the magazine released a new issue. As we got bigger one of the editors wanted to throw a beard and moustache competition so we had one. A few hundred people showed up and there was a ZZ Top cover band and it was a success so we did it again and the next year and the next year. But we didn’t have that many people to compete and I was one of the few guys in Austin with facial hair at the time, so I jumped in. Then we heard about the other competitions and we went and had a lot of fun, drinking and partying. We met Phil Olsen and went to Bend, Oregon and that was where we realized we were really solid competitors. That was where we knew we wanted to bring beard diplomacy to the world.

Beard diplomacy?

Yeah, letting people know about competitive bearding, about growing facial hair, letting people know we’re out here. I usually giving people an earful about The Donagal, too.

Give me the rant on The Donegal.

Oh I usually need a few drinks to do that, but, well …everyone’s beard should really be an outward appearance of their internal beard. My name is Miletus. The Donegal just works for me. The Donegal goes all the way back to the Phoenicians. It has a style, it has a shape. Anyone can grow facial hair and just let it go, but to maintain it and give it definition that takes work and attitude. The Donegal just seems to suit me and my character and my character likes to be on the outskirts. I need more drinks …

But The Donegal isn’t a recognized category in most competitions, right?
No, and that’s so frustrating. The competitions have 17 categories. A lot of famous people had Donegals. The Amish, Abraham Lincoln. The playwright Ibsen had a Donegal. It has just as much validity as most of the other categories, but it always falls into these hodge-podge categories. It’s my mission to get The Donegal the respect it deserves. It’s a bad-ass beard. Some people do recognize it. The Alaskans do. That’s a start. I want to get it into the World Championships. It was until 4 years ago and then they took it out. They left the Fu Manchu or the Chinese, which …yeah, is kind of weird. Only four people compete in that category! Now The Donegal has to compete in partial beard, which is bullshit. We’re not mutton chops. The Donegal is different. The last time I was at the competition in TX people started chanting
…okay I stormed my way onto the stage during the Freestyle awards and I stormed the stage when they were announcing third place and the guy didn’t show up. And I kept coming up and I gave a speech about The Donegal and got the crowd chanting “Donegal! Donegal!” The Donegal is not a beard. I have the ammo to take this all the way to the top and …In “Jeremiah Johnson” the Native Americans would say that — this isn’t real history, it was just in the movie — they would say that the more enemies you have the stronger you are. People are scared of my beard, basically.

What is your care routine for The Donegal?

I condition it and shampoo it and brush it.

What do you use?

I love products from Lush. They have some good stuff, but I don’t really care. I haven’t used that stuff in forever. [Laughing] I ran out and just use whatever. However I do admit that a good shampoo and a good conditioner makes a difference. If you just go buy the 99 cent two-in-one stuff from Walgreen’s you have to brace yourself for some crappy results. So I guess I do have a touch of the metrosexual. Dammit! I do shave my upper lip. I do my shave where my soul patch would be. And I do shave part of my cheeks

Do you have a special razor for that?

I have a theory about that: I saw a magazine called Rockpile with Jon Spencer Blues Explosion on the cover and he had a huge mutton chops and a sweet sweet suit and I thought that’s the look. That’s it. So then I started playing around with facial hair. But, I like to shave in a manly way. So right now I use a double bladed razor blade, which is kind of old school. I don’t use those seven fucking bladed Schick disposable razors. I think it’s kinda pansy and metrosexual. If I was going to shave, I would shave it with a straight razor.

New episodes of “Whisker Wars” air on IFC on Fridays at 11 p.m. ET

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SO EXCITED!!!

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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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.”

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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. 

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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.

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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.