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SXSW 2013: Reggie Watts on Google, high school traumas and hair

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When we heard that Reggie Watts was in Austin for a bunch of shows at SXSW 2013, we tracked him down and made him talk to us. What else do we have to do with our free time as we wait for the second season of Comedy Bang! Bang! to debut sometime in the third quarter of 2013? Besides, Reggie is one of the most interesting, innovative and fun comics around, seamlessly melding music and comedy into a show that never fails to impress. That’s why he gets invited places like the TED conference, The Conan O’Brien Show, Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, and even to join LCD Soundsystem as a special guest during their final NYC shows. In short, if you get the chance, you should definitely talk to Reggie.

What has your SXSW experience been like so far?

Yeah basically, airplane, car service, hotel, walking, car, and then here.

Have you had a breakfast taco yet?

I have not had a chance to have a breakfast taco yet. I need to get on those traditional things. I would really like to see a movie at that Alamo Drafthouse.

Your Instagram feed is notoriously inscrutable. You never have any context for any of your pictures and you never respond to people. Is that a choice or just a chance?

I don’t know. What started it was Tumblr. I would post photographs there and I liked the idea of not having a caption because it just is the photograph. I want people to enjoy the photograph. But people would ask, “What’s the context?” “Where is this?” and stuff but it’s not that hard to figure out. When you see me posting a tweet that says, “Boy Austin is great.” And then you go to Instagram and see a picture and you can guess that it’s probably Austin. I just want people to figure it out for themselves. It’s also just easier. I just capture the experience and post it and don’t worry about it.

You are already a comedian and a musician. Do you feel like Instagram – and photography in general – gives you another creative outlet?

Yeah for sure. I love photographs. I love taking photographs. When I see something that’s great, I want to capture that. You put it out there and on a place like Instagram you can put it there and review it later. It’s also sort of a travelogue of experiences. Even though some of them are abstract they capture a moment or a place that I was. That’s just awesome for me. I really enjoy that. It’s a record of where things are in my life. It’s cool to have that and have it be there forever …until the end.

Speaking of where you’ve been, what were some of your favorite Reggie Makes Music segments?

Michael Cera was really fun.

You and Michael Cera and pie all in one video piece is a recipe for perfection.

You and I and pie. You know, he’s a really great musician. He kinda started out as a musician. I found a student film that he did a soundtrack for. I wasn’t looking for him at all, I can’t even remember what I was looking for, and I found this video and I clicked on it and it was this weird kind of psychological thriller style short that was obviously done by film students on some campus somewhere – really young cats – and I looked at the end and the credits and there was score by Michael Cera and I was really blown away. I sent him the link and he was like, “How did you find that?” and I had no idea. But, yeah, he was great. I really enjoyed Jon Hamm. It was so cool that he was just, “I’m gonna do this,” and he was so laid back and lackadaisical. It was great.

Who did you like on season two?

There’s a spoken work piece that was great and Rashida Jones, of course.

What’s your go-to karaoke song?

First of all, I hate karaoke.

How can you hate karaoke?

I can’t stand it. I think it’s because I perform on stage already and why would get on stage and perform again. Even though it’s not fully a performance. It’s more like people getting up and celebrating their favorite songs in a really serious way. It’s a really communal thing and it revolves around drinking and I don’t drink so for me it’s just watching people go up and sing over a backing track and other people coming up to me and saying you should do it because you’re a singer.

Okay, fine. So what’s your shower song?

I would have to say maybe Whitesnake “Is This Love,” I think.

Whitesnake did “Cherry Pie” too, right?

No that was Poison.

No, it was Warrant!

They did “she was only 17…” Right?

[Producer Sady pipes in, “That was Winger. According to the internet.”]

Ah, The Google-ist. There has to be a show like that.
Person 1: “How do we solve this?”
Person 2: “Hold on.”
Person 1: “You’re just looking it up on Google.”
Person 2: “Yes, because I’m the Google-ist.”

What was the most awkward high school experience you are willing to recount publicly?

I was in football and I used to have long tail, like a rattail with a little bit of ribbon tied into it. It was really thin. High school football used to have this no long hair policy because obviously you can get hurt. And it was literally just a few long hairs, but apparently it bothered the team so one day in the locker room a couple of guys grabbed me and then they cut off my tail. And it was so…I was so bummed. How was this legal?

It probably wasn’t.

Well back in the 80s anything was legal. It was so terrible. It was kind of being violated.

Do you channel those high school experiences into your comedy now?

Mostly the good experiences. In high school I was mostly …

You were on the football team!

Yeah! Although I was on the football team because I wanted to experience the different iconic social classes of high school. So football for me was an attempt to socially integrate in an interesting way. And then I didn’t like it anymore and stopped doing it and focused more on drama and science and other forms of art and music.

When did you really start playing music?

Music I started playing when I was five. I was taking piano lessons. I had always done music – Violin in the school orchestra, private lessons, piano lessons, singing for fun. I have been doing music for a long long time. But drama was something I had dabbled in in elementary school. I wrote a play in elementary school, but in junior high not so much drama, more breakdancing. Then in high school I came back to it.

Have you and Questlove ever had a hair off?

When I met him I was wondering, too. I met him in the mid-90s when I was in my band Maktub and he was a big fan of the band kind of promoted it on the early internet days on blogs before they were known as blogs. I met him a few times on the road and at one of our shows in Philadelphia so I’ve known him for awhile and I thought he was a really cool cat. I thought our hair would be the same, I wanted it to be, but it’s really not. I think that the memory that people have of what Questlove looks like is …if you would see us side-by-side there’s no similarity in what we look like. He’s got a tight afro, because he has really tight curls and my hair isn’t even the same kind of hair. A lot of my friends, like close friends ask me about that and if you saw us together there’s no resemblance. My hair doesn’t get small.

Want the latest news on IFC’s happenings at SXSW? Check the schedule here. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @IFCsxsw

Want the latest news from Comedy Bang! Bang!? Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter@comedybangbang and use the hashtag #cbbtv.

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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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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….

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IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.

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IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

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

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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