DID YOU READ

SNL Sketch Showdown: More Cowbell vs. James Brown Hot Tub Party

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Welcome to the “Saturday Night Live” Sketch Showdown. Every weekday, an IFC writer will determine the winner of a matchup between two classic “SNL” sketches. You can check out the full bracket here.

Pre-game

Two “SNL” legends are essentially facing off against one another: Eddie Murphy and Will Farrell. Does “More Cowbell” exhibit more comedic perfection than “James Brown’s Celebrity Hot Tub Party”? Some preliminaries: Murphy, of course, had a falling out over the years with the show as a result of David Spade’s brutal takedown of him on Weekend Update (“Look, a falling star”). Murphy, as a result, absented himself from reunions. Any friction between Murphy and the show essentially ended when, in 2011, the movie star came back to host the show to promote “Tower Heist.”

The Challenge

Bushwick-born Eddie Murphy, influenced by Richard Pryor and Bill Cosby, goes up against Will Ferrell, master of the over-the-top impression (Janet Reno, James Lipton) and the sketch. Murphy is credited with providing fresh energy to the not-yet-ready-for-prime-time players in the 80s; Ferrell is credited for doing the same in the mid to late 90s. This is an epic match up; both skits are the stuff of legend.

Eddie Murphy sends up of James Brown’s ability to make anything, even something as mundane as relaxing in a hot tub, epic. Also: Murphy is making fun of the fact that as enormously entertaining as James Brown is, he is often — how does one put this precisely? — difficult to understand. The skit, essentially, is a vehicle for Murphy’s talents as an impersonator and singer. Ferrell is playing essentially a sweaty man-beast — furry beyond all measure, obsessed with his own disgusting percussions — all swagger and man-boobage. “More Cowbell,” now a term in the American lexicon, sends up VH1’s Behind the Music, more than ever, a significant pop-cultural artifact.

And the Winner is …

“Cowbell.” It could not have been otherwise. Will had me at the muffin top. Yes, Murphy’s gold mankini is spectacular, a shocking, tragic visual. But it is Will Ferrell’s arch, barely fitting split-pea soup colored top that arrests the viewer’s attention at the outset and that ultimately prevails. One of Ferrell’s strengths is the amount of emotional range — passive aggressive to, essentially, flat out aggro cowbell playing — that he brings to his performances. His way, way over-the-top act outshines even Christopher Walken, who is no stranger to over-the-top performances in his own career. Finally, the chemistry of all the players involved — Jimmy Fallon, Walken, Chris Parnell and Horatio Sanz — adds to the allure of the skit. Ferrell was always a team player, and when he shined everybody in the skit shined — even Fallon, who, at about 3:42 into the skit, starts to crack up in one of his most legendary on air crack ups. Hot Tub is an excellent vehicle for Murphy; Cowbell is an excellent ensemble skit in which Will Ferrell shines. It is, in retrospect, hard to think of a more accurate metaphor for Will Ferrell than as a comedian who plays well with others but who beats to the tune of his own peculiar cowbell.

Did the right sketch win? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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Car Notes

Portlandia Keeps Road Rage In Park

Get a lesson in parking etiquette on a new Portlandia.

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It’s the most American form of cause and effect: Park like a monster, receive a passive-aggressive note.

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This unofficial rule of the road is critical to keeping the great big wheel of car-related Karma in balance. And naturally, Portlandia’s Kath and Dave have elevated it to an awkward, awkward art form in Car Notes, the Portlandia web series presented by Subaru.

If you’ve somehow missed the memo about Car Notes until now, you can catch up on every installment online, on the IFC app, and on demand. You can even have a little taste right here:

If your interest is piqued – great news for you! A special Car Notes sketch makes an appearance in the latest episode of Portlandia, and you can catch up on it now right here.

Watch all-new Portlandia Thursdays at 10P on IFC.

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Naked and Hungry

Two New Ways to Threeway

IFC's Comedy Crib gets sensual in time for Valentine's Day.

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This week, two scandalous new digital series debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib.
Ménage à Trois invites people to participate in a real-life couple’s fantasy boudoir. And The Filling is Mutual follows two saucy chefs who invite comedians to make food inspired by their routines. Each show crosses some major boundaries in sexy and/or delicious ways, and each are impossible to describe in detail without arousing some awkward physical cravings. Which is why it’s best to hear it directly from the minds behind the madness…

Ménage à Trois

According to Diana Kolsky and Murf Meyer, the two extremely versatile constants in the ever-shifting à trois, “MàT is a sensually psychedelic late night variety show exploring matters of hearts, parts and every goddamn thing in between…PS, any nudes will be 100% tasteful.”

This sexy brainchild includes sketches, music, and props that would put Pee-wee’s Playhouse to shame. But how could this fantastical new twist on the vanilla-sex variety show format have come to be?

“We met in a UCB improv class taught by Chris Gethard. It was clear that we both humped to the beat of our own drum; our souls and tongues intermingled at the bar after class, so we dove in head first.”

Sign me up, but promise to go slow. This tricycle is going to need training wheels.

The Filling is Mutual

Comedians Jen Saunderson and Jenny Zigrino became best friends after meeting in the restroom at the Gotham Comedy Club, which explains their super-comfortable dynamic when cooking with their favorite comedians. “We talk about comedy, sex, menses, the obnoxiousness of Christina Aguilera all while eating food that most would push off their New Year’s resolution.”

The hook of cooking food based off of comedy routines is so perfect and so personal. It made us wonder about what dishes Jen & Jenny would pair with some big name comedy staples, like…

Bill Murray?
“Oh, that’s easy Meatballs with Lingonberry Space Jam it’d be great, but then we’d have to Oh, that’s easy Meatballs with Lingonberry Space Jam it’d be great, but then we’d have to… Oh, that’s easy Meatballs with Lingonberry Space Jam it’d be great, but then we’d have to avoid doing any kind of silly Groundhog Day reference.” 

Bridget Everett?
“Cream Balls… Sea Salt encrusted Chocolate Ganache Covered Ice Cream Ball that melt cream when you bite into them.” 

Nick Kroll & John Mulaney? 
“I’d make George and Gil black and white cookies from scratch and just as we open the oven to put the cookie in we’d prank ’em with an obnoxious amount of tuna!!!”

Carrie Brownstein & Fred Armisen? 
“Definitely a raw cacao “safe word” brownie. Cacao!”

Just perfect.

See both new series in their entirety on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Dark Arts

Foot Fetish Jesus And Other Nightmares

Meet the minds behind Comedy Crib's latest series, Quirks and The Mirror.

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The Mirror and Quirks are really, really strange. Deeply disturbing yet hauntingly beautiful. But you really don’t need to read a synopsis of either of the aforementioned shows to understand the exact variety of nightmare-bonkers comedy these shows deliver — that’s why the good lord made links. Instead, take a peek behind the curtain and meet the creators.

Quirks

Let’s start with Kevin Tosi. Kevin does the whole show by himself. That doesn’t mean he’s a loner — Kevin has a day job with actual humans. But that day job is copywriting. So it’s only natural that his suppressed demons would manifest themselves in biting cartoon form, including “Foot Fetish Jesus”, in ways that somehow speak to all of us. If only all copywriters channeled their inner f*ckedupness into such…expressive art.

The Mirror

Onward to the folks at Wham City Comedy.

These guys aren’t your typical comedy collective in that their work is way more left-field and even elevated than your standard digital short. More funny weird than funny ha-ha. They’ve done collaborations with musicians like Beach House, Dan Deacon & Wye Oak, television networks (obviously), and others. Yeah they get paid, but their motivation feels deeper. Darker. Most of them are video artists, and that explains a lot.

See more of The Mirror and Quirks on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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