DID YOU READ

The 10 most underrated comedies of all time

The 10 most underrated comedies of all time (photo)

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Comedy is the hardest thing to pull off, despite what the Academy Awards would have you believe. If you want proof of that, think of how painful it is to watch an attempt at comedy that isn’t actually funny. If a drama’s not that good, and can still get a cheeky enjoyability by how seriously everybody takes it. If a comedy sucks, there’s no saving it. Now, we all love “Anchorman” and “The Big Lebowski,” but here’s a quick list of undernoticed, underseen or underrated comedies that should not be dismissed just because they don’t have huge cult followings.


1. “The Jerk” (1979)

One might argue that Steve Martin’s classic can’t be underrated, since Judd Apatow made the enjoyment of “The Jerk” the barometer about whether or not a girl is worth dating in “Freaks and Geeks,” but it makes the list because it’s impossible to overrate this absurd gem, and it should be talked about a lot more than it seems to be. It’s Martin at the top of his wild and crazy game, before he transitioned into the erudite and droll intellectual aura he cultivates today, and as much as we love him now, the gloriously ridiculous wordplay, clever satire and innocently goofy charm of Navin Johnson’s naive stumbling into the real world is what made us love Steve Martin in the first place. Back when he was carnival personnel.


2. “Johnny Dangerously” (1984)

Often (although not often enough in the right places, apparently), one hears the sentiment that Michael Keaton should be in everything – or at least, why isn’t he in more stuff? He can do it all. He’s excellent at drama (both acting and directing), as evidenced by “The Merry Gentleman,” but he cut his teeth with comedies like this truly oddball gangster parody, also featuring Peter Boyle, Marilu Henner, and the best stuff you’ll ever see out of Joe Piscopo. It’s light, it’s breezy and a whole lot of fun, and Keaton is really damn charming even though he’s playing a fargin’ icehole. We defy you not to enjoy yourself while watching this movie. And for more evidence of great Keaton comedy, check out Ron Howard’s 1982 movie “Night Shift” – also underrated. He and Henry Winkler run a brothel out of a morgue. Come on. You gotta see that one, too.


3. “The Ten” (2006)

If Entertainment Weekly hadn’t done a big profile piece on “Wet Hot American Summer,” that would be the David Wain entry on this list. But they did, so instead, we shine a spotlight on “The Ten,” directed and co-written by Wain with Ken Marino. The all-star cast (including Paul Rudd, Famke Janssen, Liev Schreiber and Jessica Alba) really establishes the tone, pacing and insanity that eventually made “Children’s Hospital” a hit – featuring Gretchen Mol having a fling in Mexico with Jesus Christ, Winona Ryder’s delirious tryst with a ventriloquist’s dummy, and a song and dance number with a great deal of naked men.


4. “The Foot Fist Way” (2006)

For those of you who might be wondering where the hell Danny McBride came from, go watch this low-budget Jody Hill movie about cuckolded North Carolina taekwondo instructor Fred Simmons and you’ll be enlightened. Word has it that “Anchorman” greats Will Ferrell and Adam McKay loved this movie so much that they made a huge push to get it distributed – and said as much in the advertising for the film. Simmons battle of wills and skills with his celebrity martial-arts-movie idol Chuck “The Truck” Wallace (who turns out to be a drunken jerkface who sleeps with Fred’s wife) , as well as his unorthodox teaching methods and hard-line dojo philosophy are what make us all understand what McBride brings to the table and why he’ll always be welcome there.


5. “Burn After Reading” (2008)

The Dude gets most of the attention as far as Coen Brothers comedy goes, and “Raising Arizona” gets the rest, and they both deserve all the attention they get. However, there’s something sublimely wonderful about taking all the banal story elements of a by-the-numbers crime thriller movie and treating them seriously, but populating the cast of characters with the biggest stars in the world playing absolutely ridiculous morons. Frances McDormand’s surgery obsession, Brad Pitt’s energetic idiocy, John Malkovich’s profane rage and George Clooney’s sleazy skullduggery just make this a joy to watch.

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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.
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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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