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DID YOU READ

Bobcat Goldthwait on personal responsibility and his “anti-dummy” movie, “God Bless America”

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By Jennifer Vineyard

Bobcat Goldthwait is back behind the camera with his latest dark comedy, “God Bless America,” which is an indictment of stupidity, cruelty, and reality television, all of which inspire a killing spree when the lead character decides to shoot anyone and everyone he finds repellant.

“Some people think this is an anti-gun movie, but no, it’s an anti-dummy movie,” the director told IFC.

Frank (played by longtime Goldthwait collaborator Joel Murray) has an empty life, in which he’s been diagnosed with a terminal illness, lost his job and family, and watches way too much television, mostly to drown out the noise of a crying baby next door. When he sees the selfishness and ignorance he hates on reality shows echoed in real life, Frank decides to eradicate it whenever and wherever he encounters it — whether it means storming the stage of a music competition show in which the judges are making fun of a William Hung-like contestant or killing people who are talking on their cell phone at movie theater. Other targets include Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, Jeff Foxworthy, and Michael Jackson.

“Some people will really go off if you even mention Michael Jackson,” Goldthwait said. “My take on the whole thing is that he was a perfect example of how people become ostriches. You’re never going to stop child abuse if you deny it. He was a very talented singer and dancer, but he clearly had a lot of problems. I mean, even if he hadn’t been inappropriate with children, I saw him dangle a baby out the window. That’s enough for me.”

In case you hadn’t guessed, Frank is a surrogate for Goldthwait to express his own frustrations. “I am Frank without the homicidal tendencies,” he said, laughing. “I am Frank in the sense that I have a naive view of the world, and I do wish people would be more nice and considerate.”

Goldthwait said that he made a decision about fifteen years ago “not to participate” in cruel jokes or behavior in his comedy, no matter how lucrative it might be. “It’s a stupid, dumb way to make a living,” he said. “While some comedians have material that transcends that, and makes some valid points, there’s just a ton who are only trying to continue their own fame, and I have no interest in doing that. It just seems pretty empty.”

But Goldthwait doesn’t expect any waves of self-recognition from the less nice or considerate in the audience who would be Frank’s targets.

“It’s a little late to retrain these people,” he said. “There are just some people who can’t apprehend how their actions affect other people, and that’s the world we live in. I blame Madison Avenue. And I also blame parents who maybe just clapped too hard when their kids pooped. They’re handing out trophies just because you were on a team.”

But without such people, Frank would have no excuse for his killing spree. Nor would he have an excuse if he just changed the channel or turned off the TV.

“He thinks he’s Holden Caufield with an AK-47,” Goldthwait said. “But here’s the thing: You could have a diet of listening only to NPR, or only watching stuff that you’d DVR-ed, so that you could control your intake. But you’re still going to know about Charlie Sheen’s breakdown. You might never watch anything related to Kim Kardashian, but you’re still going to know about her.”

“I don’t have hostility towards those people — they’re just attractive dummies,” he continued. “But I do have hostility with the people who are obsessed with them and their fame. I sometimes think, ‘Why do I need to know about this? I should get a dollar every time I hear Kim Kardashian’s name!'”

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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.