DID YOU READ

Les Claypool guest blog: Primus frontman on the glory of the Three Stooges

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With IFC airing our annual Three Stooges marathon beginning Saturday at 6/5c, we are fortunate enough to have the legendary singer/bassist of Primus, Les Claypool, to help us usher in the wacky trio. So without further ado, take it away Les…

So, I’ve been asked by the fine yet potentially confused folks down at IFC to write random pieces of ramblings for their online site. Why they would want the opinion of a reckless and somewhat lopsided finger wiggling bass wrangler such as myself is speculative. I did an interview recently with an inquisitive reporter from said entity and though technology did it’s best to turn my profound words into gibberish, (our Skype connection from Santiago Chile made my voice sound like one of the Cylons from Battlestar Galactica—era 1978) the interview deciphered into a fine pile of Claypoolesque one-liners that reflect my unique if not warbled perspective of classic film. It must have impressed somebody because they have offered me huge piles of cash to sit in my favorite chair and type glorious nonsense onto my fairly outdated Macbook. Well, they offered me piles of something. So, here we go.

What the hell am I supposed to write about? Yes, I’m an opinionated bastard that is substantially barnacled by years in the brackish waters of the entertainment industry. Thus far in my life I’ve made what is known in the music world as a “shitload” of records and have toured the world several times making wretched racket for the masses. I’ve penned a novel. And, above all, I wrote, directed, acted in and have been thoroughly sodomized by the process of making, a film.

“So, where to start?” I say to myself as I scratch my whiskered chin. I flip on IFC this fine Saturday morning and “glory behold”, The Three Stooges! IFC is undoubtedly the greatest channel on the planet at this moment in time. Moe just ate a pancake that he inadvertently covered with glue instead of syrup and now Larry is pouring boiling water over his face to free his stuck lips. This stuff is obviously not based on reality because reality TV has never been this clever. Curly Howard could quite possibly be one of the greatest prophets of our time. “Drop the vernacular!” the judge says. Curly responds, looking down at the hat he is clutching in his hand, “It’s a doy-bee!” (the Curly-esque pronunciation of “Derby”). Genius.

This all may not mean much to most, especially my wife who looks at the screen like someone who his looking into the bottom of a half-full kitchen trash compactor noting not so much the quality of the content as much as the condensed quantity and randomness of it all (less the aroma of course). To me, the Stooges help jog portions of my memory. Like a CPU scanning a fragmented hard drive, I remember my Step Dad’s favorite quotes (he has always been a true Stooges aficionado). I myself have been known to inflict these gems upon my children since they were tykes. Living in the country it is not uncommon to see deer grazing about the hills and fields on a daily basis. “Look Daddy, a deer!” and with those sightings, myself being the chipper Ol’ Daddo that I am, I ask, “Does the deer have a little doe?”, knowing full well that my kids after years of prior inquiries, will respond, “Yeah, two bucks!”. Actually, they usually screw it up not having the precise, well-honed timing and comic genius of Moe, Larry, Curly and sometimes Shemp. Joe wasn’t horrible but Curly-Joe? Fuck that guy.

I actually had someone once debate me that Shemp was better than Curly. Moron. I write “someone” as if there is any possibility that it could have been anything but a male. Women take to the Stooges like a salmon takes to sand paper. I always thought that if I ever met a woman that liked the Stooges I’d lick her in all the right places and marry her up immediately. Unfortunately the woman I chose, or chose me depending on who you talk to, is not a Stooges fan. Though she does hold the rare card of being one of the few females that actually listened to and enjoyed RUSH in high school, the glory of the “three later-day-wise-men” elude her. Funny thing, RUSH and The Three Stooges = no chicks. Is it a coincidence that RUSH used to start their shows with the opening theme song from those old Stooges shorts? Ah, the profoundness of it all.

For me film represents slices of time. Not just in the sense that a contemporary piece reflects the fashion, technology and viewpoint of the day but also the notion of what you as an individual may have been doing and where you were in life when you first experienced or discovered that bit of entertainment. When I watch the Stooges a huge warm rush of my past comes over me. I see my Stepfather, Buckhorn beer can in hand, cackling away at and finishing the sentences of Curly. I see myself sitting at the dining room table (strategically placed for full view of the TV) as I plodded through my homework while keeping one eye on the boys and their search for the “Rooten’ Tooten’ Diamond”. I see my high school buddy Brian Kehoe spinning around the dirty, beer bottle littered floor pretending to be Curly to impress the girls. Ironically it actually worked for him. Glory days indeed.

I read the Stooge’s biography years ago and it is a bittersweet tale. They had their balls suspended over the campfire by the critics. I read how Curly, feeling unattractive to women because of his self inflicted baldness, used to try to booze and gorge his woes away to the point of extreme ill health. For decades they were deceived by their film company into believing they were worth less than they were, subsequently being screwed out of unknown sums of big cash, doubtfully receiving much in the way of residuals as their faces appeared in syndication for decades. But, like most of what we see, being an audience not privy to the private drama, The Three Stooges is a magical, campy, slapstick slab of ridiculousness that has for generations helped us to escape what can sometimes be the doldrums of daily life, even if it is just afternoon homework.

The days of the shorts before the film in our local cinema is long gone, replaced by endless previews, but entities like IFC have the foresight to show these wondrous jewels so that we, those who remember the glory, can call our children into the room and away from their computers, video games and iPads to demand that they view, much to their overt dismay, black and white footage of a comedy team that sewed the seeds of influence for many a respected contemporary comic (if not at least the guys from Jackass). I once heard some ungodly statistic of the number of children who were injured in the heyday of the Three Stooges by replicating of some of their violent comedic antics. I’ll tell you what, I’d much rather have my kids poke a random eye or be bonked on the head by an ironing board or hot poker than have the wretched social scaring of resembling, imitating or being influenced in anyway by the antics of the likes of Snooki or the Situation.

But then again, I’m just a bass player.

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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.
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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.
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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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