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“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

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
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Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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