DID YOU READ

Tim & Eric talk “Billion Dollar Movie,” Woody Allen and their upcoming IFC series “Comedy Bang! Bang!”

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By Jordan Hoffman

After surviving near catastrophic ice-slips and trudging through what many Sundance veterans were calling the worst mid-fest snow storm in memory, I arrived, nose dripping, feet soaked and grumpy to talk to Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim and Will Forte.

The grumpiness lasted roughly thirty-five seconds. These guys are about as friendly and approachable as you can get, even a little cheerful to do what is perhaps the least funny thing in the world: analyze comedy.

“Awkward moments are. . .very much our thing,” Wareheim offered when I tried to articulate what it was that made them so special. Phrases like “annoyance humor” and “exhaustion humor” didn’t quite land as well.

“It’s the moments when things go really dark and you shouldn’t be laughing that I like the most. Like the scene in ‘This Is Spinal Tap’ when Christopher Guest leaves the band and Michael McKean is reacting to it.”

“I just love the pauses,” Will Forte chimed in. “And I think it is because I hate confrontation is real life, I love when it gets dragged out in comedy.”

Forte plays what could be construed as the bad guy in “Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie,” which had its Sundance premiere about 12 hours earlier. Forte kills as the mustachioed, turtleneck wearing sword salesman in the doomed mall Tim and Eric’s new PR consulting firm DOBIS is tasked with saving.

“I’d like to point out we shot in Palm Springs and those turtlenecks got really hot,” Forte reminded, eliciting a solid “oh, boo-hoo” from Tim.

What I find remarkable about Tim and Eric is that every single male person under a certain age I know adores them, perhaps to an almost obsessive degree. I wondered what comedies they obsessed over when they were coming of age.

“Christopher Guest movies,” Eric fired back without a beat. “And Mr. Show and SNL. Up until the Will Forte years, of course.”

Tim concurred with Christopher Guest, and also Woody Allen – both the “early, funny ones” and the later work. And not just because he was there, but you could tell he deeply admired the work Will Forte did on SNL. “Particularly those sketches that would come after the second musical performance. . .the really weird ones.”

If you were wondering what the deal was with Tim and Eric’s approach to post-production gags, it’s like this:

Internally, they call them “glitch-outs.” No, they don’t write them in the script, but they kinda know whenever they make a loud noise or a strange face that the editors are probably gonna mess with it. Sometimes they simply add them in if they’ve been cutting a scene and just get board. They are very aware that others are kinda copying the technique (particularly in advertising, which is doubly ironic) and they don’t have any hard feelings. “’Cause no one else does it right,” Eric stated.

As my time was running up I had to ask about IFC’s upcoming show “Comedy Bang! Bang!” that the guys are producing. It is based on the “Between Two Ferns” co-creator and “Mr. Show” alum Scott Aukerman’s popular podcast. Will it change the face of TV?

Tim: No.
Eric: Yes.
Will: (a disinterested third party) Maybe.

Eric went on to sing Scott’s praises, mentioning that there’s so much love for him in the comedy community that all the support he’s given over the years is going to feed right back into the show. Tim added that he’s jazzed because it is going to be very experimental, more experimental than the podcast, and will really push some boundaries. And that we should prepare for Reggie Watts’ music.

How jazzed are you to check out “Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie”? Let us know in the comments below, or on Facebook or Twitter.

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As the Spoof Turns

15 Hilarious Soap Opera Parodies

Catch the classic sitcom Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures Television

The soap opera is the indestructible core of television fandom. We celebrate modern series like The Wire and Breaking Bad with their ongoing storylines, but soap operas have been tangling more plot threads than a quilt for decades. Which is why pop culture enjoys parodying them so much.

Check out some of the funniest soap opera parodies below, and be sure to catch Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

1. Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman

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Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman was a cult hit soap parody from the mind of Norman Lear that poked daily fun at the genre with epic twists and WTF moments. The first season culminated in a perfect satire of ratings stunts, with Mary being both confined to a psychiatric facility and chosen to be part of a Nielsen ratings family.


2. IKEA Heights

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IKEA Heights proves that the soap opera is alive and well, even if it has to be filmed undercover at a ready-to-assemble furniture store totally unaware of what’s happening. This unique webseries brought the classic formula to a new medium. Even IKEA saw the funny side — but has asked that future filmmakers apply through proper channels.


3. Fresno

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When you’re parodying ’80s nighttime soaps like Dallas and Dynasty , everything about your show has to equally sumptuous. The 1986 CBS miniseries Fresno delivered with a high-powered cast (Carol Burnett, Teri Garr and more in haute couture clothes!) locked in the struggle for the survival of a raisin cartel.


4. Soap

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Soap was the nighttime response to daytime soap operas: a primetime skewering of everything both silly and satisfying about the source material. Plots including demonic possession and alien abduction made it a cult favorite, and necessitated the first televised “viewer discretion” disclaimer. It also broke ground for featuring one of the first gay characters on television in the form of Billy Crystal’s Jodie Dallas. Revisit (or discover for the first time) this classic sitcom every Saturday morning on IFC.


5. Too Many Cooks

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Possibly the most perfect viral video ever made, Too Many Cooks distilled almost every style of television in a single intro sequence. The soap opera elements are maybe the most hilarious, with more characters and sudden shocking twists in an intro than most TV scribes manage in an entire season.


6. Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace

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Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace was more mockery than any one medium could handle. The endless complications of Darkplace Hospital are presented as an ongoing horror soap opera with behind-the-scenes anecdotes from writer, director, star, and self-described “dreamweaver visionary” Garth Marenghi and astoundingly incompetent actor/producer Dean Learner.


7. “Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive,” MadTV

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Soap opera connoisseurs know that the most melodramatic plots are found in Korea. MADtv‘s parody Tae Do  (translation: Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive) features the struggles of mild-mannered characters with far more feelings than their souls, or subtitles, could ever cope with.


8. Twin Peaks

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Twin Peaks, the twisted parody of small town soaps like Peyton Place whose own creator repeatedly insists is not a parody, has endured through pop culture since it changed television forever when it debuted in 1990. The show even had it’s own soap within in a soap called…


9. “Invitation to Love,” Twin Peaks

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Twin Peaks didn’t just parody soap operas — it parodied itself parodying soap operas with the in-universe show Invitation to Love. That’s more layers of deceit and drama than most televised love triangles.


10. “As The Stomach Turns,” The Carol Burnett Show

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The Carol Burnett Show poked fun at soaps with this enduring take on As The World Turns. In a case of life imitating art, one story involving demonic possession would go on to happen for “real” on Days of Our Lives.


11. Days of our Lives (Friends Edition)

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Still airing today, Days of Our Lives is one of the most famous soap operas of all time. They’re also excellent sports, as they allowed Friends star Joey Tribbiani to star as Dr Drake Ramoray, the only doctor to date his own stalker (while pretending to be his own evil twin). And then return after a brain-transplant.

And let’s not forget the greatest soap opera parody line ever written: “Come on Joey, you’re going up against a guy who survived his own cremation!”


12. Acorn Antiques

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First appearing on the BBC sketch comedy series Victoria Wood As Seen on TV, Acorn Antiques combines almost every low-budget soap opera trope into one amazing whole. The staff of a small town antique store suffer a disproportional number of amnesiac love-triangles, while entire storylines suddenly appear and disappear without warning or resolution. Acorn Antiques was so popular, it went on to become a hit West End musical.


13. “Point Place,” That 70s Show

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In a memorable That ’70s Show episode, an unemployed Red is reduced to watching soaps all day. He becomes obsessed despite the usual Red common-sense objections (like complaining that it’s impossible to fall in love with someone in a coma). His dreams render his own life as Point Place, a melodramatic nightmare where Kitty leaves him because he’s unemployed. (Click here to see all airings of That ’70s Show on IFC.)


14. The Spoils of Babylon

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Bursting from the minds of Will Ferrell and creators Andrew Steele and Matt Piedmont, The Spoils of Babylon was a spectacular parody of soap operas and epic mini-series like The Thorn Birds. Taking the parody even further, Ferrell himself played Eric Jonrosh, the author of the book on which the series was based. Jonrosh returned in The Spoils Before Dying, a jazzy murder mystery with its own share of soapy twists and turns.

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15. All My Children Finale, SNL

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SNL‘s final celebration of one of the biggest soaps of all time is interrupted by a relentless series of revelations from stage managers, lighting designers, make-up artists, and more. All of whom seem to have been married to or murdered by (or both) each other.

“Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie” – First impressions from the Sundance world premiere

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By Jordan Hoffman

Not since John Waters’ “Desperate Living” has a feature film ever been more dedicated to stream-of-consciousness shock humor as Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim’s “Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie.” It will simultaneously blow your mind and test your patience, offering bathtubs full of gross-outs, character oddities, baffling post-production tweaks, and, on occasion, some really well-crafted jokes. It is hilarious and innovative, but relentless and exhausting, and will no doubt cause even their greatest supporters to wonder if the fifteen minute format of their “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!” might be the perfect clay from which they should sculpt.

The film opens with the greatest series of false starts since “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” but once the story gets rolling our two idiot heroes find themselves in debt to a gangster-businessman played by Robert Loggia after blowing a billion dollars on an awful three minute movie. After a night of hard drinking and body piercing they look to the sky and see their future in the stars: Doing Business.

Doing Business is shortened to DOBIS, a word that is said roughly seven hundred and fifty thousand times in the film (and it gets funnier every time.) DOBIS is a PR consulting firm (or something) and a whacked out, “Top Gun”-loving Will Ferrell convinces then they will find fortune by turning around a decrepit, 1980s looking mall.

The mall, which is overrun by an angry wolf, is a collection of horrible shops like a used toilet paper store and a restaurant where they only serve bread. It’s a perfect way to incorporate the sketch comedy feel into this loose narrative. (Well, that as well as fourth-wall breaking cheap informercials to help you “Learn From Your Film.”)

Some of the sketches are more creative than others, but all of them are funny. And herein lies the problem. “Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie” is in desperate need of cutting, but I would have no idea what to cut. There’s an “in for a penny, in for a pound” type of deal you have to make with yourself when you watch a type of movie like this.

I’d say that perhaps it is a movie best seen at home, where you can pause the DVD and take a break for a while, but then you would miss out on the thrills of a group experience. Watching the silhouettes of the older couple in front of me who were NOT amused by the spiritual healing via teen diarrhea is something I’ll treasure for quite some time.

My experience with this ludicrous movie began in an appropriate manner. Prior to the big midnight premiere the film’s publicity team threw a rather swank dinner at a hotel atop a giant mountain, then gave some of us a lift in a brightly lit karaoke RV. It got into a light fender bender along the way so we had to hoof in the snow while someone else dealt with the cops.

During the post-screening Q & A Eric was stunned that he counted only six walkouts, and Tim expressed nothing but self-deprecating apologies. Some of the questions got a little silly, like a mom asking if Tim & Eric would sign her son’s nipples, and Tim joked that, “Hey, this was Sundance, maybe ask me what my favorite Godard film is?”

As the crowd filed out, it was clear that the reaction was mixed. Die-hard fans were gleeful and already quoting the film. But one woman looked clearly disgusted and was overheard saying, “They lost me with the masturbation scene.”

Are you looking forward to checking out “Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie”? Let us know in the comments below, or on Facebook or Twitter.

IFC welcomes Comedy Bang! Bang! and Bunk

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If you were paying close attention to Twitter this weekend, you may have heard a few awesome rumors about IFC. We’re here to confirm them all. Well, maybe not the one that compares us to Willie Nelson in the sack, but otherwise: All true.

On the heels of the second season premieres of “Portlandia” and “The Increasingly Poor Decision of Todd Margaret,” IFC today greenlit two new scripted comedy series, Comedy Bang! Bang! and Bunk (working title). IFC has ordered 10, half-hour episodes of each series to premiere back-to-back in June 2012 as a one-hour original comedy block. Who’s looking forward to summer now? That’s right, you are.

Comedy Bang! Bang! is a sketch variety show featuring celebrity guests, comedy sketches, and animation. The series is hosted by Scott Aukerman the co-creator/director/producer, Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis; writer/performer, Mr. Show, and based upon his popular podcast of the same name. You may also recognize him from such places as …right here on IFC where he interviewed
Sarah Silverman, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Seth Rogen, Paul Feig and Judd Apatow.

Music for the show will be provided by the show’s resident one-man bandleader, Reggie Watts, the comedian/musician/artist/writer/performer as seen on Conan’s Live tour and on TBS as well as his Comedy Central Special WHY $#!+ SO CRAZY. Also from writing songs for IFC shows like this ode to the Onion News Network’s Brooke Alvarez.

Bunk (working title) is a game-show parody featuring a rotating line-up of comedian contestants performing absurd comedy challenges, created by Ethan T. Berlin and Eric Bryant and hosted by award-winning stand-up comedian, Kurt Braunohler.

We think these shows fit perfectly with IFC’s mission to create fresh, original, off-kilter comedies, and we’re thrilled to add them to our 2012 line up.

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