DID YOU READ

5 weird sketch shows featuring totally unexpected casts

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Thanks to Twitter, forum apsecialthing, and those rare times where you co-habitate the meat-space to with your friends, there’s no shortage of opportunities to talk about comedy. But, eventually, those conversations can become overly sweaty because you are inevitably discussing the same handful of names over and over again — thanks, somewhat sincerely, to the prolificness of Matt Groening, Seth MacFarlane, and, oh, let’s say Jon Benjamin.

But, what if I told you there are old sketch shows out there that are long and buried, but still worth discussing? More specifically, to gush over them with befuddled excitement? Not only about their content, but also by virtue of the driving forces behind them? Well, as the headline for this piece and the last two paragraphs have indicated: I am not lying. I am, in fact, about to embark on a listicle with you, dear reader, letting you know about six bizarre sketch shows and the star power behind them that brought them to fruition.

As in, right now.


1. “Kelsey Grammer Presents: The Sketch Show”

There are so many kooky-ass things going on with this show, that, somehow, the man behind Dr. Frasier Crane’s involvement in it somehow becomes one of the least strange things about it when you dig a little deeper. First off, this is a Grammer-produced port of an early 21st-century BBC show called, simply, “The Sketch Show.” In some cases, the Fox show (yes, it was on Fox) featured exact recreations of the British show’s sketches, like the “California Dreamin’” one in which the entire cast, basically, sings the wrong lyrics to The Mamas and the Papas’ classic song by the same name. The show was seldom laugh-out-loud funny — it seemed to aim more for just being amusing — and that is what’s the most shocking thing about it, because it was heavily stacked with Mr. Show heavy hitters (Paul F. Tompkins, Mary Lynn Rajskub) and Kaitlin Olson from “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” Grammer’s on-air involvement rarely exceeded a Laugh-In-style transition, where he’d appear onscreen laughing hysterically and then saying, “Now watch this!” The audience rarely did either.


2. “The Edge”

Another Fox sketch show with another absurdly impressive cast (Jennifer Aniston, Tom Kenny, Wayne Knight) and writing staff (Charlie Kaufman, “The Simpson’s” David Mirkin, who also created this show), “The Edge’s” was headed by Julie Brown. (It also was co-composed by Christopher Tyng, who composes for Futurama.) As in, Julie Brown, the stand-up who was in movies like “Clueless” and “Earth Girls Are Easy” and another short-lived comedy show, “Strip Mall.” What’s particularly noteworthy about this 1992 show is that while it didn’t pioneer it, it did beat “Mr. Show” by a few years in exploring sketches being inter-connected throughout an episode. It didn’t commit as hard as “Mr. Show” did, but, then again: It didn’t go quite as satirical or as silly as “Mr. Show” did, either. Still, it’s pretty weird to see Tom Kenny and Jennifer Aniston in the same room together, at all, and this show is probably the only time that would ever happen.


3. “Doggy Fizzle Televizzle”

Snoop Dogg’s short-lived 2002 to 2003 excursion into sketch comedy — which, for the record, is, as of this writing, is about as long as his excursion into reggae — may have been forgotten, but that’s not because people weren’t watching. And, as is the case with many of these oddball shows, they’re staffed with a lot of ringers. In this case, the show was co-created by Vernon Chatman and John Lee (“Wonder Showzen,” “Louie,” many other shows you’ve likely heard of). The show had more of a variety-style feel to it and a musical guest (think “Chappelle Show”), and the show didn’t take itself too seriously, which is actually why it’s kinda worth tracking down. Some of the better, though fairly dated, bits included a commercial for T-Bro: a more affordable version of TiVo, which is just “a brother who watches TV and tells you what you missed.” The show wasn’t picked up for a second season due to payment negotiation issues.


4. “Exit 57”

I wouldn’t say it’d come exactly as a shock to “The Colbert Report” fans that its host once co-starred in a mid-‘90s Comedy Central sketch show, but “Exit 57” is so rarely discussed or acknowledged, that I’d say it’s also possible that it could. More so that the show happened, not that Colbert, who came up through Second City and, of course, “The Daily Show,” dabbled in sketch. Nevertheless, this show, which also featured frequent Colbert collaborators Amy Sedaris and Paul Dinello (both from “Strangers With Candy”), somehow seems to be largely forgotten. It’s worth tracking down if only because it trucks in a strange mix of gee-shucks Americana spliced with screwball satire. Sometimes, as in the video above, it’s not even clear what the show is mocking — more often than not, it’s sketches themselves in general, it seems. What else would you expect from a man who went on to be known as a fictional version of himself by the same name?


5. “Juiced”

Putting it as concisely as possible? “Juiced” is O.J. Simpson’s hidden-camera/prank show. Imagine “Punk’d,” if that show was much, much more morally reprehensible. One “Juiced” “bit” has Simpson trying to sell a White Bronco at a user car lot and tells a potential buyer that the car runs well and that it “…it helped me get away.” Yup. It’s on Netflix, and it should liven up some of those discussions you’re having with all your comedy buddies.

What is your favorite weird sketch show? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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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.
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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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