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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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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

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Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

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IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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