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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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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.