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“Whisker Wars”: The Recap of America’s Beardsman

“Whisker Wars”: The Recap of America’s Beardsman (photo)

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Bearding is a sport. The competition is fierce, the mustaches are waxed, and the beards are very very long. Welcome to “Whisker Wars,” where we go behind the scenes and into the world of competitive facial hair growing. We will be recapping each episode of this season, so if you miss an episode, we got you covered.

The first person we meet in the premiere episode of “Whisker Wars” is Phil Olsen, founder and self-appointed captain of Beard Team USA. While you may be able to name a few Olympic athletes, soon you will be able to name every member of the team who are growing beards for America. Olsen reminds us that the global field of competitive bearding has been dominated by Germany for far too long. Now there is one year until the next world competition in Norway and the upstart Beard Team USA is hoping to unseat the champions. To prepare the team for battle, Olsen is staging the first ever U.S. national championship in Bend, Or. His ringer in the competition? Jack Passion, the first American to ever take gold in the Full Beard Natural category of the global competition. And Jack didn’t just do it once, he did it twice. Now Passion has decided to turn his fame into a career. What color is his parachute? Professional bearding. Based on his credentials as a world champion, Jack is attempting to become the first bearding professional. To further his cause and help garner sponsors, he wrote a book called “The Facial Hair Handbook.” Unfortunately, the decision to go pro has earned a lot of ire from his fellows bearders, who think Jack is taking himself way too seriously.

For Jack, a win in the national competition in Bend would help cement his title, but victory isn’t guaranteed. He faces some serious competition in Myk O’Connor, of Brooklyn, New York with his full-sleeve tattoos, and full, lustrous beard. Also on the radar? The members of the Austin Facial Hair Club, which features some fantastic beards including Bryan Nelson’s red menace. Complicating matters for Phil as he tries to put together Beard Team USA is that Austin isn’t too wild about Jack. They think Bryan should have taken his crown during the competition in Alaska and they hold a grudge. Also in Austin is bearded politician Allen Demling who wants to follow in Abraham Lincoln’s footsteps, but with a much much bigger beard.

Out in California is Aarne Beilefeldt whose long beard is frequently kept in a ponytail in order to stay out of harm’s way as he maintains his wooded property and stays well off the grid (except for the tv crew crowded inside his small cabin, of course.) Even though Aarne is off the grid, he knows about Jack Passion and doesn’t hesitate to take a few jabs at the reigning champion and his professional pursuits.

A gallery opening in New York City dedicated to the art of the beard brings many of the competitors to Manhattan. When Jack spots a portrait of his Austin-based beard rival Bryan, he takes a moment to talk a little smack. Unfortunately, a few Austin Facial Hair Club boosters are in the crowd and seize the moment to further the ill will between the parties. Fight! Fight! Fight!

Back in Austin, the club members remind us of how hard it is to eat with a beard. Ribs? Nope. Only Melitus Callahan-Barile with his Alaskan whaler beard can manage to scarf down a few of Austin’s famed barbecue ribs. While the Austinites are eating, Jack Passion is getting his game face on. He’s back in San Francisco and is getting ready to compete in the San Francisco Beard and Mustache Competition. One unexpected contender? Austin’s Alex Laroche with his freestyle beard. They play nice and bid each other luck, but even though they are competing in different categories, Alex has a plan to take Jack down. In this competition, the crowd picks the winner. So when Alex throws his popularity behind a rookie, he hopes the crowd will follow. They do, and Jack goes down.

Jack is shaken by the loss, because he felt the crowd voted against him just to see someone else win. Phil Olsen hoped to cheer up his star by arranging an opportunity for Jack to seek advice from world freestyle beard champion Willi Chevalier. Chevalier suffered a tragic accident that almost cost him his famed beard, but he fought back and reigns supreme. Chevalier offers Jack some words of wisdom, but Jack makes a controversial decision: He’s not going to compete in the national championship. He claims his decision to host the competition is to give someone else the chance to win, but Austin sees it as a sign of fear. Yep, they think Jack’s scared of Austin.

At the national competition, the whisker warriors get ready for battle. They will compete in different categories, including mustache, partial beard, full beard, and freestyle, but all their beards will be judged on sheen, style, length, fullness, and luster. Austin’s Alex Laroche is angling for the crown in freestyle, but Willi Chevalier has come for the one title he does not have yet. Willi takes it easily with his perfect, complex beard. The full beard category has the fiercest contenders: Bryan Nelson, Myk O’Connor, Allen Demling, and Aarne Bielefeldt. To the shock of the Austin crowd, Bryan is ousted before the finals. Allen Demling takes second place to do Texas proud and then in an upset, Aarne Bielefeldt beats Myk and the rest of the crowded, bearded field. This is Aarne’s first win, but it’s a hard blow for Myk. Instead of beating crushed by the defeat, though, Myk is more determined than ever to be at his best when Beard Team USA takes the stage in Norway.

“Whisker Wars” airs on IFC on Fridays at 10:30 p.m. ET

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

via GIPHY

Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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