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SXSW 2013: Ryan Quincy on “South Park,” “Out There” and autobiographical storytelling

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If you haven’t watched our new animated series “Out There” yet, you are missing out on one of the most evocative high school shows since “Freaks and Geeks.” The adventures (and more typically misadventures) of Chad and his best friend Chris living in the small town of Holford are so reminiscent of adolescence and pre-adult post-child existence it can be a bit painful to watch, when it’s not making you laugh out loud. The show stems from the mind of Ryan Quincy, who also voices the lead character, Chad. While Ryan has been pretty open about his awkward high school years, we sat down with him at SXSW to dig for even more dirt. We talked about shotgunning beers, raising kids and casting “Out There.”

Hi Ryan, have you been to SXSW before?

No, this is my first time. This is my first time to Texas, even.

Really? Have you had a Lone Star beer yet?

I did! I had two last night.

Did you shotgun them in true Texas style?

I didn’t. I wasn’t hanging around with the right people to show me how that’s done, I guess.

Apparently not. Do you live in New York or LA?

LA.

What’s the comedy culture in LA like these days?

It’s pretty diverse. The UCB Theater. Justin Roiland, who is a cast member on our show is from there. A lot of the cast members like Kate Micucci and Megan Mullally and Fred Armisen of course are from diverse parts of the comedy scene. I like that we got a diverse cross-section of the alt-comedy culture for our show.

When you were casting the show did you seek people out to be in the show?

Yes. Fred was top of the list for the Terry character and Megan Mullaly was one of the first people to sign on. Pamela Adlon, well, the whole cast is so versatile. We were looking for people who could do more than one voice. But originally I wanted to have kids to do the voices, like the Charlie Brown stuff. But Kate Micucci won us over as Jay and then Justin Roiland and myself do the other kids. But casting itself is tough. You generally have an idea of what you want – and I wanted to do more naturalistic voices and not cartoony broad voices.

You worked on “South Park” before and now you’re creating “Out There,” what draws you to working with cartoon children?

I think it’s just that age where you are on the threshold of childhood and adulthood. For the South Park kids, they are eight-year olds and will probably always eternally be eight. What I’ve found more interesting with 14- and 15-year old is there’s just more angst and melancholy and also more humiliating stories to get through at that age.

How much of “Out There” is drawn from your personal experience?

A lot. It’s very autobiographical. About every episode there is something mined from my teenage-hood. I passed out in Sex Ed class. There was a blizzard that cancelled Halloween, so they postponed it to the spring and we did trick-or-treating in the spring and that’s one of the episodes. I bragged to my dad that I could drive when I was 14 and he said, ‘Alright let’s see if you can do it’ and he handed me the stick shift and I drove it into the neighbor’s fence and I ran out crying and left my dad to deal with it. So there’s been a lot of stuff. It’s been kind of cathartic to deal with it and have an outlet for some of these stories.

Has it been cathartic? Or is it more like painful reliving?

It’s been cathartic. It’s been good. It’s been fun to see the stuff come to life.

We’ve been asking everybody to share awkward high school memories, but I feel like you’ve been pretty open about them already.

Yeah, but there are always more. I was just telling someone about taking this girl to a dance and I worked at a Dairy Queen at the time and I was the only boy who worked there and I think the girls – They were kind of bully girls, mean girls – and I think they all kind of had a crush on me. They knew I was taking this girl to the dance. While I was in the dance, they took all the whipped cream and hot fudge and everything from the ice cream store and decorated my car with it and it just looked like a banana split on wheels. I walked out to that with my date.

What did your date say to that?

She was really embarrassed. It was just really bad and awkward.

Where did you grow up?

Small town named Holdridge, Nebraska, about 5000 people.

How many were in your high school?

About 350. My class had about 90 people.

Have people in your town reached out to you about the show yet?

Oh yeah. Everyone wants to identify with who it is in the show. They say, ‘Oh that’s so and so’ or ‘That’s me!’ but there’s no one really specific. It’s all cobbled together. I’ve used some names, like Johnny Slade, there’s a guy I went to high school with whose last name is Slade, so he thinks that’s him. It’s funny, but on Facebook a lot of them will use the character pictures and use them as their profile pictures. I think it’s been fairly positive. It’s more or a love letter or a tribute to growing up there and those people and those experiences.

Did you feel at the time like you were having an awkward high school experience or is it only in retrospect that you realized that?

I am always having an awkward experience. I don’t feel like my awkward years are over. I still do stupid things. I just feel like that’s my lot in life. High school was extra weird.

You have kids now, right?

Yes, I have a son who is eight and a daughter who is five.

What are you going to do when they hit high school?

I’m going to be really over protective. It’s not going to be pretty. I feel like I’m going to be very paranoid, like I’m going to be following them. It’s not going to be good. I need to prepare myself. I feel like they’re at these ages where we’re past the diapers and sleepless nights and we’re in a nice period, right now, but then it’s going to get nuts. We’ll see. I’ll do my best to guide them.

Where did the idea for “Out There” come from?

It was based on growing up in a small town in the Midwest. I made a lot of home movies growing up, just stupid stuff. Hanging out at the 7-11, setting stuff on fire, just the things that happen when you’re bored in a small town. We never come out and say it, but it predates computers and cell phones. I am also a big fan of “Over the Edge” – Matt Dillon’s first movie – I wanted to do an animated version of that. Something that has angst and melancholy, but is still funny. But it’s also about two best friends. It’s about that first real friend you have, a best friend. That bond is kind of the precursor to all your relationships. I wanted to do something about two best friends.

Do you have one of those from real life that this is based on?

Yeah, yeah, there are a few of them, but they are kind of Frankensteined together, made up of all different parts. Sadly, my best friend died the day after I found out “Out There,” the day after I pitched it back in 2008, I found out that my best friend died of a brain aneurysm and I never got to tell him. “Out There” is dedicated to him and his memory.

Want the latest news from Out There? Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter @IFCouthere.

“Out There” airs on IFC on Fridays at 10/9c

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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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