“Whisker Wars”: Don’t Mess With Texas

“Whisker Wars”: Don’t Mess With Texas (photo)

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The Texas National Beard Championships is one of the last stops before the big competition in Norway. So, obviously everyone is going. This year is a bit different, though, because Austin Facial Hair Club ringers Bryan Nelson and Allen Demling have opted to judge this year’s competition instead of compete. Also, Beard Team USA captain Phil Olsen and reigning national champion Arnie Bielefeldt and two-time world champion Jack Passion are all flying in to compete. But since they are in Texas, the first stop is barbecue. Which, by the way, has got to be one of the hardest things to eat with a full beard and mustache. Choices, gentlemen! Next time have your welcome feast at a bite-sized tapas restaurant or something. Jack is not exactly thrilled to have his rivals Bryan and Allen judging the competition. He’s also not excited to have living beard legend Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top show up as the surprise guest judge. While Jack loves Billy, apparently Phil Olsen has made some remarks that Jack’s beard is better than Billy’s and Jack is concerned about reprisal. See the clip below for proof of this.

Speaking of Phil, he is starting to get concerned about the unity of Beard Team USA. Especially after Bryan publicly stated that Texas is considering seceding from the union. I didn’t know they were Civil War reenactors?! Maybe they were watching “The Civil War on Drugs” and got inspired. Anyway, Phil decides that the only way to keep the team together is to arrange a sit down between Jack Passion and the Austin Facial Hair Club. At the sit down, certain members of the Austin Facial Hair Club seem shocked that Jack would be offended that they booed him on stage …or that they are impersonating him on Twitter with some dark jokes. But most of Austin’s anger and unhappiness is directed at Phil Olsen. They don’t like the way he is running Beard Team USA and they aren’t too shy to tell him. Ultimately nothing was resolved in the meeting, but it’s always nice to see bearded men drinking beer in broad daylight. Then tragedy struck: Alex LaRoche’s beard started to sag. Back to the Aquanet salon with you, Alex!

During the competition’s kick off parade down Austin’s main drag, Phil Olsen takes a moment to try and explain why he feels comfortable making a profit off of his efforts on behalf of Beard Team USA: His work, his idea, his profits. Or, in the immortal words of the cast of “Seinfeld”: yadda yadda yadda. Don’t think he’s going to be convincing the Austin boys any time soon. The competition finally starts with guest judge Billy Gibbons arriving to a packed and excited house decorated with a giant sign that says, “DON’T SHAVE,” in case you had any doubt. After Billy gets his trophy for just being generally awesome with a really big beard, the real competition gets under way. As with most competitions, the freestyle beard and full beard natural are the hottest categories. However in Austin, they prefer to call “full beard natural” by its proper name “Gnarliest Beard,” which is quite apt. They also like to count the character and spirit of the beard, not just length and …er, girth. Brooklyn’s Myk O’Connor hopes this will play to his beard’s strengths and he can dominate in the category. Jack, on the other hand, is more than a bit nervous to walk out on stage, what with Austin being the land of anti-Jack Passion rallies. Plus, Jack faces some stiff competition from Brian Redbeard who came from Washington, D.C. and, of course, reigning champ, Aarne Bielefeldt. When Jack is introduced, he tries to score some points by complimenting the competition as the best in the land, which the crowd eats up. Then the judges start their mulling. They come to their decisions quickly, except for one category: Gnarliest Beard. Billy Gibbons seems to be Team Jack, but will Austin’s Bryan and Allen let Jack take the crown? Alex LaRoche takes first in Freestyle, putting him in a good position for the global competition. Then the Gnarliest Beard finalists are announced: Brian Redbeard, Jack Passion, and Aarne Bielefeldt. Once again, Myk did not make the cut. Brian takes third and after a long drumroll, Jack takes second place next to Aarne’s gnarliest beard in the land. Then Aarne, who is no spring chicken, went stage diving, drank beer out of the winning chalice, and drenched his beard in beer. He’s a winner! Jack takes the loss well-ish, but what he doesn’t know is that with the judges deadlocked, the judgment was made based on the roll of a dice. That’s right, fate, luck, or loaded dice chose Aarne to win the competition.

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


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.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.


Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.