DID YOU READ

Comedy categories would make the Oscars more relevant

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Let’s face it: the Oscars are not as cool as they used to be. Oscar, at age 83, is showing signs of tarnish. It is becoming a less and less compelling event for the digital youth culture. Last year’s Academy Awards were the sixth top social TV tentpole event of the year after the MTV Music Awards, the American Music Awards and even — God help up — the Grammys. Not a good look. If the American Music Awards are getting more social media attention than the Oscars, then there is something terribly wrong with Hollywood. Movie ticket sales, incidentally, hit a 16-year low in 2011.

Oscar, quite frankly, needs to chill the fuck out. And by chill I do not mean throwing a glossy-eyed James Franco and a hyperactive Anne Hathaway at the podium. Quite the contrary: the changes to save Oscar must needs be structural, not cosmetic, to affect real change. I propose as one solid structural change that might save the Oscars that it is time to honor comedies and comedic performances in the Best Picture and Best Actor and Actress categories. Life, after all, is not all drama; it is mostly drama, but it is also the moments of levity. Why not honor those?

Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall” is the last alleged comedy to win best Picture at the Academy Awards. And it wasn’t even a pure comedy at that; “Annie Hall” happened to be just as dramatic as it was comedic. Which leads me to the question: Why do the Academy Awards ignore comedies, anyway? What does Oscar have against a great comedic performance? A comedic role — the nuance, the timing — when played pitch-perfect is a wonder to behold. Anyone who thinks comedy doesn’t work the actor’s chops as well as drama ought to watch Philip Seymour Hoffman in 2004’s “Along Came Polly.”

Melissa McCarthy just got a Best Supporting Actress nod for “Bridesmaids.” This is a step in the right direction. Insanely great comedic performances rarely get a chance to even get to this point of speculation. Perhaps it is time to create a Best Actor and Actress in a Comedy category, like they have at the Golden Globes (only far less corrupt a process), to make sure that it gets a fair shake come awards season. It would certainly youth up the Oscars, which, with all the gravity and all the gowns, is in dire peril of becoming a magnum of chloroform.

Comedy categories at the Oscars might sound a revolutionary act, but it was not until the Nagano Olympic Games in 1998 that even snowboarding became an actual Olympic sport. And at the time there were the usual overly conservative arguments that snowboarding was not a sport, it was a fad of the youth, that it would somehow “sully” the image of the Olympics. The Olympics have survived just fine, and a greater consideration of the comic in life by the Academy would go a long way in making the Oscars more relevant. This is our Nagano.

If there had been a Best Actor in a Comedy category back in 2007, Sasha Baron Cohen would almost definitely have won for “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.” And who among us didn’t think that was not an Oscar-worthy performance? Perhaps not solid enough to overtake Forest Whitaker’s Idi Amin in “The Last King of Scotland” — which won that year — but definitely Oscarworthy. Finally, Oscar has other biases, of course, and that is not unexpected of an institution that is eighty three years old. Oscar doesn’t like Sci-Fi, not as Best Picture, anyway (Sci-Fi as a genre does well in the special effects ghetto). And that’s ridiculous. “The Empire Strikes Back” should have won Best Picture in 1980. But don’t get me started on the lack of respect given to the sci-fi genre.

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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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