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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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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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