“Whisker Wars”: Meet Bryan Nelson

“Whisker Wars”: Meet Bryan Nelson (photo)

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Meet Bryan Nelson, president of the Austin Facial Hair Club and rival for Jack Passion’s full beard natural crown. Bryan was once considered the beardsman who stood the best chance of usurping Jack in the Full Beard Natural category, but Bryan is fighting his way back from a decision that has left him fighting to regain his status. But he’s not just twiddling his thumbs waiting for his beard to grow, he is using his time to motivate the Austin ranks to compete in every bearding category at the World Championships in Norway, whether they compete as part of Beard Team USA or not. He may also be using his time to impersonate Jack Passion on Twitter. Bryan sat down with us to chat about beards, bears and the Coen Brothers, so read this and then tune in to “Whisker Wars” tonight at 11 p.m. ET.

Hi Bryan, where am I reaching you today?

Well, I’m out tour managing for Peelander Z on the Warped Tour

Is that your day job?

It’s something I do a few times a year. I record bands and I do sound. I am trying to get out of working in bars.

Do you find that your beard limits your career choices?

I’ve been in the music business for about 15 years. When I’m tour managing it’s easier to pick me out of a crowd, which can be really helpful. It’s quick way to point me out, especially because I generally work with Japanese bands, so I stick out in a crowd.

How did you end up in the world of competitive facial hair growing?

There was a competition in Austin and I was a judge there. Then since I had a big beard, I was directed to the websites with all the competitions and everything. I almost went to one contest but …well, it was a whole bear society. I would get 20 emails of people asking to use my picture. Now, I really don’t have a problem with anyone’s sexual orientation but I don’t want to put myself on the front page of a bear website either. So I stuck with the Austin contests for a while.

You have a wife and child, did you meet your wife with a full beard?

We met in the fall of 2004, I asked her out at one of her art shows, and a little over a year later, after we got serious, I decided to shave my beard. I had dated other girls and, while my beard was clean, other girls had, you know, cuddled in my beard, and I wanted to give her a clean beard that was all her beard.

Did she appreciate that?

I think so.

But then you started growing it back right away?

Yep. August 2005 was the last time I shaved. My beard grows pretty fast. Last year my wife and baby and I were extras in True Grit so they had to cut my beard and my hair for that so I could look like a city person. They cut it all they way to my nipples.

So even though you compete in the beard circuit, you let them cut it for the movie?

Yeah. I was thinking my six-month old daughter gets to be in a Coen Brothers movie. Cutting it actually helped me have a more relaxed attitude about the beard and the competitions. I mean, you can’t take these competitions too seriously. The judges are like the mayor’s daughter or a hairdresser from the town. Some people get way too serious about it. Our team can get really serious and really competitive, but we smack each other down.

With a six-month old daughter around, what is the weirdest thing she’s ever got stuck in your beard?

Her whole body! First it was her hands. Then her toes and then she would get stuck and she would start screaming and she couldn’t move and would be pulling my beard out and screaming. It was bad.

What do you use to keep your beard in tip top condition?

I usually take a shower once a day. Mostly because sometimes you wake up and your beard is sticking out weird ’cause I slept on it wrong. I take a beard correction shower. I shampoo and condition it. I use Main and Tail Straight Arrow. It’s for horses. It doesn’t have alcohol, which can be really drying for beards.

What’s the hardest thing to eat with a full beard?

Actually, drinking out of a water fountain is really hard. I have to use two hands and move my moustache out of the way. Sometimes soup can be a challenge. Or soft-boiled eggs. Egg yolk is the worst to get in your hair. I am pretty good though. I would challenge anyone to a contest of messy eating. Actually, we wanted to have the Beard Olympics! You would have all these messy foods and one napkin and see who would have the least food on their bead.. Also maybe a beard soak where you dip your beard in a cup of water and see who can wring out the most.

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New episodes of “Whisker Wars” air on IFC on Fridays at 11 p.m. ET/10 ct

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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.


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.
Die Hard restroom

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


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.


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.


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.


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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