DID YOU READ

SXSW 2013: Five minutes with Eugene Mirman

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Eugene Mirman is a busy man, especially when he’s at SXSW. So we jumped in the car and chatted with him for the five minutes it took to drive from the Driskill Hotel to his next gig.

Hi Eugene, thanks for letting us hitch a ride with you.

Oh sure, so are car interviews your thing?

No, no you just didn’t have time for a sit-down interview.

Ah! I have been doing a lot of interviews, but I thought this was your thing. “Oh we do car interviews!” and I was like, ‘Okay that sounds fine,’ but it isn’t. It’s not that you do car interviews. This is great, this is good, I’m glad we’re doing it anyway.

You’re a veteran of the Austin scene down here. How many SXSWs have you been to?

I’ve done the last 13.

Wow, 13? You’re an expert then.

I don’t know if I’m an expert at going to a music festival. But I think in 2000 my website was nominated for Best Humor Site or something like that and I came down with my friend who had designed it and we were like, ‘Oh this is very fun. We should come back.’ So I did. I may have even done a show somewhere that first year, but since then I have been coming back and doing shows every year. Before they ever added comedy, I would just put on a show before the music festival started and use that show’s money to finance staying here.

Do you have certain things you really like to do while you’re here each year?

Walking around South Congress is always lovely. There’s a handful of restaurants – although sometimes they change – that I try to go to each year. Like Franklin Barbecue and this Japanese place called Uchiko, which is really awesome, so I might try and do those things, but mostly it’s just coming to see friends who are in LA or live somewhere else. It’s a great chance to catch up with friends, basically.

What are you doing here this year?

Just a bunch of car interviews.

Car interviews are where it’s at! I’m going to make this my thing.

Just seven back-to-back car interviews.

No one else gets to do car interviews! It’s my shtick now.

This is how it’s going to start for you. You’re going to become the greatest car interviewer ever. I’m interviewing They Might Be Giants today.

Oh they are great! Are you a They Might Be Giants fan?

I am.

Which album?

I’m a fan of several albums, actually. It would be funny if I was like, “Only Lincoln, after that, what happened to them.” But I am a fan of them. They are a band I liked a lot in college, so this is fun. Flood was a great record, Lincoln, classics! John Henry, I think that came out while I was in college. So I’m interviewing them tonight and I did two shows yesterday and I’m going to go see stuff and eat at some places. Like Franklin Barbecue, which is right there [pointing as we drive past]. You have to go at 9 or 10 in the morning, but it’s the best. Literally the best.

Here’s the question we’ve been asking everyone: What is one memorably awkward high school experience?

What’s an awkward high school experience? High school is all awkward, so I don’t know. I have sad stories from elementary school, so maybe this will suffice. When I was in sixth grade I had a collie and it was a very pretty collie that I had for about six months, because it got hit by a car.

I don’t like this story at all, Eugene.

We had to go to the vet while my parents were away, with this collie dying next to me, and it died. Then the next day at school this little girl came up to me and was like, “You’re dog committed suicide because it didn’t love you.”

This is the worst story I have ever heard.

Yeah, well you asked if I could think of an awkward story and I thought that the amount that story is sad covers it. Like, it’s the wrong gear, it’s not awkward, but it’s pretty horrifying, so in that sense, it’s fine. It was sixth grade, but it was pretty traumatic, so it works.

It does sound very traumatic. How long did it take you to get over that?

I don’t know, I’m 38 and I’m in the back of a car telling it to you now, so I don’t think I ever have. That was when I decided I should become a comedian and use that to work through these issues.

Do you do that with your comedy? Do you work through issues on stage?

No, not really. Not specifically. Meaning what I do on stage is not particularly personal. It’s personal as to how I see the world, but it’s not personal like, “It’s so weird fucking people and it makes me feel weird.” It’s not that. That’s a bad example of personal stand up comedy, but you get what I mean.

You came to the U.S. from Russian when you were a kid, right?

I did. I came here when I was four.

Where did you go to high school?

I went to high school in Lexington, Massachusetts, which in hindsight was very nice. It was a great school, but at that the time it was like, “School is a terrible experience.”

Have they invited you back to speak?

I have spoken at both my high school and college. There were several people from my high school like Ethan Zahn who won the first “Survivor,” Amanda Palmer, I think a lot of us have spoken at the high school. I mean there’s only so many people who went to the school. They also have professors or radio personalities or whatever, but yes. That’s a long roundabout way of saying that yes, I spoke at my high school. And at the college, which was nice too.

What was that experience like? My high school has definitely not invited me back to speak.

Yeah, but in like two years they will. Maybe four. It’s really likely. How many people are voice actors from your high school? Once they are invited back, you’re next. That’s how it works. The experience well the class picks you. In both high school and college you are invited because the class wants you to come. What’s funny is that when I was introduced for the high school one, you can find both speech on the internet, but for the high school one they just introduced me as “From the Class of 1992, Eugene Mirman” and most of the people in the hockey stadium where they did this graduation clearly had no idea who I was or what I did. They knew that I had gone to the school and that they had asked me to speak. It was a really funny experience where my friends who had come and were in the audience kept hearing the kids ask “Who is this? What does he do?” But it was a really great experience and it went really great.

Well, we reached your destination, so get out of the car.

Okay, I will.

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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