DID YOU READ

SNL Sketch Showdown: More Cowbell vs The Chris Farley Show

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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.

Farley and Ferrell Go Head to Head

Apart from their chosen professions, Chris Farley and Will Ferrell appear to be polar opposites in every way. Farley, the self-conscious, troubled addict was the archetypal class jester. Ferrell, the confident, happy alpha male played varsity football. One idolized John Belushi and followed him to a similarly tragic end. The other made enemies with Joan Rivers and continues to ride a hugely successful film career. But for all their differences, both of these comedians share a rare passion for anything-goes hijinks. Ferrell is the first to lose his clothes for a laugh, and Farley never thought twice about humiliating himself to be funny. You also get the distinct feeling that both are performing as much for their fellow cast, as they are for the audience. In this matchup the two take on a little role reversal. Farley, a master of physical comedy, stays put and goes for nervous laughs, while the usually deadpan Ferrell plays with some percussive gyrations.

The Matchup

There is indeed a cowbell on Blue Oyster Cult’s, “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” a fact that has not gone unnoticed since April 2000 when Will Ferrell clutched one to his hairy chest before banging it into infamy. The polyester-heavy sketch has a lot going for it, not least of which is Christopher Walken’s appearance as the slightly unhinged record producer, Bruce Dickinson, who turns everything he touches into gold (from records to diapers). As the host, it’s Walken’s show — his immense stage presence commanding your attention as he repeatedly lobbies for more cowbell — but Ferrell ends up stealing the scene as soon as he “explores the space” at Dickinson’s request. The sketch rewards multiple viewings too, and not just to bask in Walken’s strange diction. It’s the little things, like watching Ferrell take a comedic opening with his gut, literally. As his hand reactively moves to pull his shirt down over his exposed belly, he catches bandmate Jimmy Fallon’s reaction and leaves it gloriously exposed. Poor Fallon can barely deliver his line.

The genius of “The Chris Farley Show” was two-fold. Farley parodies the kind of vapid entertainment “journalism” which is now ubiquitous in our amateur-dominated media experience, fully a decade before 140 character limits existed, back when people had to insert a disc into their computer just to get online. Perhaps more impressive is the inept host’s parody of himself — the self-conscious, foolish fatty, fumbling the show. The awkward tension he creates is almost too much to bear, and it’s all amplified by a total lack of Farley’s trademark, his physical comedy. Some say the real Chris Farley was just like the guy he’s playing in this skit. Others admit it was how he came off, but that it was a put on, a defense mechanism. Either way, Farley was playing at getting laughs at his own expense, a talent the shy Wisconsin boy had long practiced at. And true to his life, he got us laughing, both at him and with him.

And the winner is:

“More Cowbell.” Pop culture at its most hilarious, this sketch has the enduring qualities of great comedy. People still quote from it every day, and even the phrase more cowbell lives in our language well beyond a little playful irreverence for some 70’s rockers from Long Island. In “The Chris Farley Show” we’re waiting for Farley’s patented physicality and we don’t get it. At the time, this added to the awkward tension that builds throughout and contributed to why it was so “awesome,” but it doesn’t hold up against the test of time. Ferrell’s Gene Frenkle is a fictional character, but his meme is very real. And that cowbell really pulls the track together too.

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

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Forget Oscar

Find Your Spirit Animal

The Spirit Awards are LIVE this Saturday at 2p PT/5p ET.

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In just a few precious days, the greatest, most epic, most star-studded awards ceremony of the year comes to IFC.

And please, we’re definitely not talking about the Oscars. We’re talking about the Spirit Awards. Hosted by iconic comedy duo Nick Kroll and John Mulaney, it’s a relatively under-the-radar awards show with serious cred. And if the past is any indicator, we’re in for a wild night.

If you feel like doing your homework, you can find a full list of nominees and performance excerpts here. It reads like a who’s who of everyone that matters – those larger-than-life personalities with status that borders on mythological. Our celebrity spirit animals, if you will.

This isn’t hyperbole. Literally everyone who takes the stage at the awards show is spirit animal material. Let’s see if we can help you find yours…

Do you

Live in someone else’s shadow despite shining like the sun? Do you inexplicably vandalize your pretty-boy good looks with a sloppy-joe man bun and a repellent pubic-hair beard? Do you think sounding stoned and sounding thoughtful are kinda the same thing?

Congratulations, your spirit animal is Casey Affleck.

He’s the self-canonized patron saint of anyone who’s got the goods but doesn’t give a damn.

Do you

Have mid-length hair and exude a certain feminine masculinity that is universally appealing? Are you drawn to situations that promise little to nothing in the way of grooming or hygiene as a transparently self-conscious attempt to conceal your radiant inner glow? Does that fail miserably?

Way to go, your spirit animal is Viggo Mortensen.

He’s the yoga teacher of actors, in that what should make him super nasty only increases his curb appeal.

Do you

Get zero recognition for work that everyone knows is unrivaled? Do you inspire greatness in others yet get shortchanged when it comes to your own acclaim? Are you a goddam B-52 bomber in an industry of biplanes?

Bingo, your spirit animal is Annette Bening.

What does it take for this artist to win an Oscar? Honestly now, if her performance in 20th Century Women doesn’t earn her every award on the planet, consider it proof that the Universe truly is a cold dark void absent of reason or compassion.

Do you

Walk into a room full of strangers and walk out with a room full of friends? Have you been hiding under the radar just waiting for the right moment to leap out into the spotlight and stay there FOREVER? Do you possess the almost messianic ability to elevate Shia LaBeouf’s on-screen charisma?

You guessed it (or not), your spirit animal is 100% Sasha Lane.

If you haven’t seen American Honey, then you haven’t heard of her. She came out of the blue with a performance both subtle and powerful, and now she’s going to be in all the movies from this moment on. Or she should be, at any rate.

Don’t see your spirit animal there? Worry not. There are many more nominees to choose from, and you can see them all (yes, including Shia LaBeouf) during the Independent Spirit Awards, this Saturday at 2pm PT/5pm ET only on IFC.

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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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