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“Whisker Wars”: The Recap of The Beard Circuit

“Whisker Wars”: The Recap of The Beard Circuit (photo)

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Previously on “Whisker Wars,” Beard Team USA founder Phil Olsen called Jack Passion “the Tiger Woods of beards,” but we’re assuming this refers to his many championships, not his lady skills. A rivalry is brewing in the full beard natural category between two-time world champion Jack Passion, Bryan Nelson of the Austin Facial Hair Club, and Myk O’Connor of the Gotham Beard and Mustache Association. However it was quiet woodsman Aarne Bielefeldt who took the crown at the first U.S. Beard and Mustache Competition in Bend, Ore. Bearding is a sport, and these guys are fierce competitors.

The next stop on the so-called Beard Circuit is in Ohio. After his controversial decision to emcee the U.S. competition, Jack Passion is back in the ring for the Ohio Beard Championships. His coach/captain Phil Olsen is judging the competition, but there won’t be any favoritism, right? But, even with Phil on the bench, Jack’s victory isn’t guaranteed since Aarne Bielefeldt is there to defend his title and several local characters have shown up to represent the Buckeye States. Notably absent are the members of the Austin Facial Hair Club who are in Galveston, Texas, trying to raise funds to send the group to the world championships in Norway. The event requires everyone to come in Dickensian costume, but, at least according to team member Allen Demling, many of the attendees came dressed as “pricks.” The team was having a hard time raising money to represent Texas in Norway.

Across the country, Myk O’Connor was preparing to host the Big Apple Beard & Mustache Competition. His beard coach/girlfriend, Karolina, met at the Alaska beard competition and this year, at his competition, he’s planning on proposing to his long-time girlfriend.

Back in Ohio, the full beard natural category will be judged on density, pattern, texture, and length. Rookie Mike Scanlan has a five-foot beard and a local advantage, while Aarne has the power of the reigning national champion, and Jack has a two–and-a-half foot long red waterfall attached to his face. The judges have a lively deliberation about whether Mike Scanlan’s length should trump Jack Passion’s fullness and Aarne’s grey mane. Eventually the winners were announced: Aarne took third, and the close tie between Jack Passion and local boy Mike Scanlan was broken by none other than Phil Olsen. A few cries of * cough * bias * cough * were heard, but Jack still reigned supreme.

Down in Galveston, the boys are getting creative in their fundraising. Alex LaRoche’s kissing booth rakes in a whole two dollars, which should buy some in-flight headsets for at least one team member on the way to Norway. But they have to get to Norway if they are going to de-throne Jack Passion.

Meanwhile, Myk is simultaneously trying to prepare for the New York City championship and his proposal to Karolina. Many ringers have come in for the competition, including Jack and Aarne and Trevor Cranmer, a local favorite with a Jack-sized chip on his shoulder. There are many rounds of competition, but the main event is once again in the full beard natural category. Once again, Phil Olsen is on the judges’ panel, but he has opted to abstain from the category. Third place goes to up-and-comer Brian Redbeard. Second place is reigning national champion, Aarne, meaning that Jack Passion and his beard, Big Red, take the top prize. Then Myk brings Karolina on stage and with an adoring, cheering crowd watching, he proposes. When she says yes, the crowd goes wild. While Jack may have taken the crown, Myk got the real prize.

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New episodes of “Whisker Wars” airs 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.