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“Whisker Wars”: The Recap of Reindeer Games

“Whisker Wars”: The Recap of Reindeer Games (photo)

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Ladies and Gentlemen, bearding is a sport. Not a sport like playing for the NY Yankees, but better, because you can’t have an awesome beard and play for the Yankees. In “Whisker Wars” we are chronicling the adventures of a bearded band of boys a.k.a. Beard Team USA as they make their way to the World Beard and Mustache Competition in Norway. In the last episode they merry men were competing in Texas. On a roll of the dice, current US title holder Aarne Bielefeldt took top honors, besting two-time world champion Jack Passion. This week the bearded warriors are heading to Detroit to once again face off in the ultimate facial hair challenge.

Beard Team USA is in the Motor City, for one of the few remaining national competitions before the world championships. But Beard Team USA is lacking their star players. Current national champion Aarne Bielefeldt doesn’t need to prove anything any more. He has the beard to beat. And a velvet jester hat too. As for the other ringer in the Full Beard Natural category, Jack Passion, well he has a beard modeling gig. No, we don’t know that was a thing either. Where was the beard modeling booth at the high school career fair? Also missing from the Detroit competition are the members of the Austin Facial Hair Club, who are deciding whether to secede from the Beard Team USA union. With the two strongest contenders out and Austin not showing up at all, New York’s Myk O’Connor hopes to score a late season win and ride in to Norway on a wave of victory. Unfortunately a bunch of other people have the same idea.

Since Austin isn’t heading North to Motown, Miletus Callahan-Barile decides to head even further north to Anchorage, Alaska and the Mr. Fur Face Competition. Miletus hopes to bring home the gold in one of the few competitions that recognizes his beard — The Donagal a.k.a. The Alaskan Whaler. But Miletus isn’t just there for fun, he also wants to seek the counsel of the Alaskan Beard Club, a group that is recognized by the World Beard and Mustache Association (WBMA) and that has nothing to do with Phil Olsen and Beard Team USA. If Austin’s going to go it alone, the Alaskans would be a great ally and role model. Miletus is trying to roll out the Southern charm and extend an olive branch, but some of the Alaskans aren’t as friendly as Southerners. When the man who won the 2010 championship for his Alaskan Whaler sees a Texan vying for the Alaskan Whaler crown, he retires to bathroom to shave his moustache and vie to reclaim his title. Miletus tries not to take it personally, and opts to take in some local color, including running with the reindeer, Pamplona-style. The deer win, almost.

Back in Detroit, Myk is scoping the competition. Burke Kenny, the styled mustache champion and best-groomed winner from Austin, makes a surprise appearance. In a surprise move, he’s going to be competing against Myk in the Full Beard Natural category. In Anchorage, Craig Miller, the defending Alaskan Whaler champion, is sans mustache and ready to compete against Miletus for the title of best Donagal.

Myk takes the stage in Detroit, but taking the crown away from Burke Kenny with his signature hat-tip-and-wink competition is going to be hard. Myk does the only thing he can: Buys all the judges a beer. The judges announce the third place winner, the second place winner, and very slowly, the first place winner as Burke Kenny. Myk doesn’t place, again. He tries not to take it too hard, but his chances of placing in Norway seem slim.

Back in Anchorage, Miletus is taking part of a traditional Alaskan beard ceremony: The Petting Zoo. The gents line up and the ladies cop a feel …of the beard. Then the competitors take the stage. In a surprise, Miletus beats the local incumbent champion! He calls his Austin Facial Hair Club teammates, but no one believes him. Would you? Then Miletus makes his other big move and asks the Alaskan team for sponsorship to become an independent club, separate from Beard Team USA. Back in Austin, the members of the Austin Facial Hair Club prepare to leave Beard Team USA. They draft their by-laws and then in true Texas style head to the tattoo parlor to make it permanent.

Out in the hills of California, Aarne has been drafting a manifesto of his own. He is forming his own club. The one rule? No trimming, not even split ends. He may be the only member. But he just might like it like that.

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New episodes of “Whisker Wars” air 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.