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DID YOU READ

A brief chat with Bunk host Kurt Braunohler

Kurt-Braunohler

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Even before Kurt Braunohler took up hosting duties for our new comedy game show Bunk, he was a busy man. On top of his acting and voice-over work in shows like Bob’s Burgers, Delocated, Jon Benjamin Has a Van and Human Giant, he and Kristen Schaal (you may recognize her from The Daily Show) host a weekly variety show in Brooklyn called Hot Tub. (Every Monday at Littlefield!) He writes a very helpful advice column for Vice. When he’s not acting or voice-overing or doing stand up or sketch comedy shows, he fills his time talking about the perils of parakeets and the problems of keeping badgers as pets on his web series Kurt Braunohler’s World Wild of Animals. He’s also been known to wax philosophic about U.S. landmarks. So yeah, he’s busy. Which is why we were so flattered that he took the time to chat with us yesterday. We talked to Kurt about Bunk, animals, and, naturally, the origin myth of the Liberty Bell:

Hi Kurt, how are you?

I’m fine, thanks. Surviving all the interviews.

How many interviews have you done today?

You are number five.

Oh good, lucky number five.

That’s not a thing, Melissa. It is lucky number three or seven. Lucky number five is not a thing.

Well, that’s it. I’m not going easy on you now.

Good. I wanted the gloves to come off.

Done. People keep describing Bunk as “you have to expect the unexpected,” so when people say that, what should you expect?

You should expect awesomely hilarious comedians being funny off the cuff in weird situations that you would not expect them to be in. They may be your favorite comedians in the world, but you haven’t seen them in these situations before. They don’t even know what will happen next. It’s all off the cuff.

Some of the categories on Bunk are pretty wacky. For example, “who has the softest lips” is kind of out there. Was this all just a ruse to feel all of your friends’ lips?

I’m obsessed with lips. For the past 14 years I’ve been building a comedy career just as a way to feel lips. I’ve been thinking about it as a means to an end. I’ve been pretty successful, too. I have felt three peoples’ lips so far.

You made a study of animals in your series World Wild of Animals, so what’s your favorite animal?

Any type of bird. I would love to be more specific, but really, any type of bird is the funniest animal. They have to move awkwardly when walking. They have beady eyes; they are very suspicious. They can’t do anything right. They have no hands, which is inherently funny.

I never thought of a bald eagle as hilarious before.

Have you ever seen a bald eagle fart?

No.

That’s very funny.

I guess I will Google that now.

Or have you seen baby eagles getting kicked out of nest? They can’t really fly yet and it is hilarious.

Baby bald eagles getting kicked out of the nest is your idea of funny?

It is hands down hilarious.

What’s your favorite U.S. monument?

The one that lets you down the most. That would be the Liberty Bell. It is the most boring thing in the world. Every child who grows up in the tri-state area has to go stand in line for two hours and then you get to see a bell that is broken. It doesn’t even work.

Do you know any facts about the Liberty Bell other than that it is the most boring thing in the world?

Yes. It was made by a baker who was trying to make world’s biggest croissant, but made a bell instead. He wasn’t a very good baker. He ate a lot of metal. He didn’t live very long.

Now that you and Kristen Schaal are both on TV are you still going to do Hot Tub?

Of course. We are going to do Hot Tub until we die. Every Monday. Then we’ll come back and do it as zombies. Hot Tub is very important. What we do is based on our live skills. It’s stand up and sketch and improv everything we do in Hot Tub is important to our jobs. And, every Monday I’m excited to do it.

How did you come up with Bunk? It came from the New York Television Festival right?

Yeah, IFC picked it up from there. Eric Bryant and Ethan Berlin, the creators of Bunk, asked me to come get involved in very early process when they wanted to make a game show. Ethan and I were writing for a game show on another network and he was frustrated that our funniest ideas never made it to air. So the idea was to take all those funny moments and create a whole new show. Ethan and Eric pooled their own money for the pilot and then we got it into the festival. IFC saw it there. We shot another pilot with them and then we shot the whole series. We were the first series to come from the New York Television Festival.

You must be pretty proud of that.

Yeah. It feels like we’re a bunch of scrappy kids who got together to make a TV show and then actually did it.

Have you received letters from PETA about your puppy shaming ways?

No, but I welcome them. I would be so excited. I would explode with happiness.

Like they were a new pen pal?

Yes. I would engage with them over and over again. And I would defend every single thing said about those puppies.

Do you secretly wish Reggie Watts was Bunk’s one-man house band?

No way! No. I love Reggie to death but Comedy Bang! Bang! without Reggie? That’s like 50% of the fun. Whereas I’m 100% of the fun.

If you could have any three contestants (living or dead) who would they be?

Three fake ones would be Bill Murray as a zombie, a talking walrus, and a sentient CinnaBon, who just smells so good the whole time. She smells so good that it’s a real distraction. That’s the trick up her sleeve.

Three real ones would be a young Chevy Chase before he got hooked on back pain pills, Goldie Hawn from the 80s, and Dom DeLuise. OH MY GOD DREAM TEAM.

Based on your answers it seems you think comedy was best in the 80s?

No, I just get to choose whoever I want. I just didn’t get to hang out with any of those people and I want to.

Maybe you could have old Chevy Chase and Goldie Hawn come on the show. I think Dom Deluise is dead though.

Dom Deluise is dead, but we could have Paul Prud’homme who looks like him.

We should have managements look into that.

We will.

You can watch a full episode of Bunk right now.

Want the latest news from IFC? Like us on Facebook and follow us on @IFCtv. You can also like Bunk and Comedy Bang! Bang!.

Bunk premieres on IFC on Friday June 8th at 10:30 p.m. ET

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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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