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The Oscars are horrible (and I hope they never get better)

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The Oscar race is finally over, which means we’ve got about three weeks to fill before the next Oscar race begins, which means it’s time to talk about the Oscar show itself, specifically how bad it was. If you were so inclined, you could have spent the better part of Monday just reading articles — like this one by Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir or this one by The A.V. Club’s Noel Murray and Tasha Robinson — about what’s wrong with the Oscars and how to fix them. Both of those pieces are extremely well-written and well-reasoned. The Oscars were indeed a mess this year. Mistakes were made.

But please, for the love of God: no one fix them.

Maybe there was a time when it was important that the Oscars were good. Maybe at some point in the past it was necessary for the Oscars to be entertaining in order to get people to tune in. Those days, though, are long gone. Thanks to social media the Academy Awards as they are now — maudlin, crass, self-important, interpretative danced by French acrobats on bungee cords — are way more fun than they’ve ever been before. The Oscars are horrible and I, for one, hope they never get better.

This is what I hope the members of the Academy take into consideration as they meet this week to discuss the show and the public and critical reactions to it. I’m sure someone will bring up all the things that didn’t turn out as planned, like the on-stage microphones’s impossibly poor sound quality and the bizarre choice of contributors to the what-movies-mean-to-me Oscar montages (In case you missed it, Adam Sandler makes movies to “tell the truth.” Adam Sandler. “Jack and Jill” Adam Sandler. To tell the truth. Adam Sandler.). The Academy might see the reaction to these gaffes and snafus and try to come up with solutions to prevent them from happening again in the future. I think I speak for everyone when I say: that would be a terrible idea. Even more terrible than putting Billy Crystal in blackface to play Sammy Davis Jr. in a bit opposite Justin Bieber.

If you followed along with the Oscars on Twitter, you might have gotten the impression that no one enjoyed the awards. That’s because every tweet was a mean joke or an insult (or an insulting joke). But if the Oscars hired a new host (like, say, Tom Hanks or maybe Tina Fey), and replaced Bruce Vilanch with a new head writer (like, say, Louis C.K. or maybe Tina Fey) and turned all the awkward, unsuccessful comedy bits into legitimate humor, what would we make fun of during the show? That would be an even bigger disaster than, well, the Oscars.

In the age of social media, the Academy Awards are really only the first half of the Oscar experience. The show doesn’t need jokes anymore, just set-ups; we’ll provide the punchlines, thank you very much. You know what happened when something legitimately funny happened during the Academy Awards (like, say, when Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis got up in Brad Pitt’s face with several large cymbols)? I got bored. It’s much more entertaining to not be entertained and then entertain yourself and others online.

For all the grief people (and by people, I mean me) gave Billy Crystal about pulling his decades-old material out of a Mini-Storage for the occasion, he’s actually the perfect guy to host the Oscars in the age of social media. Because while Billy Crystal hocks his wares on the stage of the Kodak Theatre, every other stand-up comedian worth a damn gets to make their own jokes on Twitter. Crystal’s opening monologue lasted maybe six minutes on television; on Twitter, the monologue lasts all three hours of the show and it’s written by a million comedic minds and none of them have to get their schtick approved by executives or cleared by censors.

That’s why I say this to the Academy: ignore the naysayers. Next year: go even weirder. Have Billy Crystal back, and this time have him host the whole show as Sammy Davis Jr. Get Cirque Du Soleil to present all the nominees. When it’s time for the annual death montage, add a laugh track. Accidentally forget to announce the winner of the Best Actor category. Turn off the hurry-up-your-speech music and let people ramble on about their agents and managers for as long as they please. Whatever they want, so long as it’s bad. The worse they give it, the better we like it.

Be honest: do you enjoy the Oscars more when they’re terrible? Tell us in the comments below or write to us on Facebook and Twitter.

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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.