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David Cross on “It’s A Disaster,” “Arrested Development”

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David Cross may not be the person you think of turning to in a crisis, but he’s (mostly) the voice of reason in “It’s A Disaster,” in which a group of different couples gather for brunch only to discover that their city (along with Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, San Francisco, and more) is being attacked by terrorists using dirty bombs. Instructed to stay inside, they have a different kind of meltdown (which is what makes it a comedy). “It’s not the end of the world,” Cross told IFC. “It’s the end of their world. It’s not like their immediate concern is calling their grandma in Kansas City, because Grandma is going to be fine.”

The friends, however, are not. Two latecomers to the brunch succumb on the porch to the VX nerve gas in the air, since Cross has already duct-taped the doors and windows shut and Julia Stiles refuses to break the barrier for them, but not before admonishing them for their perpetual lack of punctuality: “Really? Every time?”

“The way Julia says that is perfect,” Cross said. “And that’s what I love about this movie. There are no special effects, it’s not bombastic, it’s not crazy 0-120 miles per hour in six seconds. It’s subtle and slow about how petty and narcissistic some of these people are. They bicker in a very real way, not in an arch ’30 Rock’ way. It’s the way real people talk.”

Cross almost didn’t want to do “It’s A Disaster” in the first place, but he was won over by the dialogue. After spending eight months in London, he really wanted to be back home in New York, “just f—ing be here, just chill out with my dog and my wife,” but then he had to go to Los Angeles for the weekend for something for his mother-in-law. While he was there, Ferrera sent him the script for the film, by writer/director Todd Berger. “I said, ‘No. I don’t care what it is. There’s no way I’m spending a month in L.A., another month not at home,'” Cross recalled. “But then it was so good and real, and I appreciated Todd’s ear for dialogue, so I stayed. And I loved that it was a character that I don’t get to play that often, a grounded straight man … at least up until the last fifteen minutes.”

Even after the grid goes down and they figure out they have less than a few hours to live, the couples are more concerned with the state of their relationships — one couple wants Cross to join them in threesome, another couple rethinks divorcing, another couple calls off a wedding. America Ferrera’s character decides to finally ingest any food or drugs she ever wanted, cooking up a “poor man’s ecstasy” in the kitchen, while Stiles’ character laments all the things she never got to do — go to Europe, go scuba diving, fall in love, or watch “The Wire.” To comfort her, Cross’ character Glenn tells her, “All those things are overrated. Except for ‘The Wire,’ that’s really good.” If confronted with his immediate demise, Cross himself would “bum out about water boarding, either doing or being water boarded, because I kind of wanted that experience,” he said. “I also wanted to get in the Guinness Book of World Records for being naked. Or eat a live cow, from start to finish. There are so many things.”

One thing Cross did get to do before he died, however, was one more season of “Arrested Development” — which he predicts might shut down the grid once it returns with its debut on Netflix on May 26. “I’m curious,” he said. “I’m not sure the grid will go down on that day, but the next day, it’s going to be like, ‘Gotta watch another, gotta watch another, gotta watch another’ as people binge on it. We will probably lose 62 billion dollars in man hours and production, whatever the GNP is for the day, or whatever it costs us to be in Iraq and Afghanistan for a couple hours.”

Cross got back in the cutoffs to play the loveable Bluth family in-law Tobias Fünke, who still hasn’t recovered from being a never-nude. In photos leaked from the set, Cross was seen wearing a sheet, which caused speculation that perhaps Tobias would have a nude scene after all. Sadly, no. “I’m happy to get naked in real life at the slightest suggestion,” Cross said, “but as far as the character, I doubt it. That photo was from our first day of shooting, and it was my character’s attempt to wear an Indian sari.”

Cross predicts that the model of releasing all the episodes simultaneously will spread as “creative and ambitious people who make television and who have the imagination to utilize it” watch “Arrested Development,” but it’ll be slow to start. “Most people play it safe,” he said. “It’s only going to be a handful of people at first, but hopefully eventually more.” As for the renewed series leading to a film as planned, he was circumspect. “As I understand it, the series will work on its own, and it will work if a film continues the story,” Cross said. “You will be quite satisfied if there is no film. It’s not like anybody would miss it, you know what I mean?”

“It’s a Disaster” opens today in New York and Los Angeles.

“Arrested Development” season four premieres on Netflix on May 26.

What David Cross project are you most excited for? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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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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