DID YOU READ

Comedy Bang! Bang!’s Scott Aukerman talks about Between Two Ferns and The Lonely Island

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Yesterday a new episode of Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis landed on the internet. The webseries lives on Funny or Die but spreads so quickly through the internet it reminds you why videos are called “viral.” The show has a simple premise: Zach Galifianakis interviews a celebrity guest between two titular ferns in a pseudo public access television show. While the premise is simple, the jokes are not. The show thrives on creating brilliantly muted comedy that is simultaneously subtle and laugh-out-loud funny, especially in the show’s early episodes where it was unclear whether or not the celebrities guests were in on the joke as Galifianakis played his role completely straight. The meta-ness of do-they-or-don’t-they only added to the laughs. The episode that appeared yesterday combined two of the internet’s favorite things: Between Two Ferns and the Saturday Night Live-based comedy rap group The Lonely Island. The video started out as an episode of Between Two Ferns with Galifianakis interviewing James Franco. Suddenly the show breaks into a full-on “Spring Breakers” parody complete with Franco reprising his role in a music video by The Lonely Island for their song “Spring Break Anthem,” off their forthcoming album. It was brilliant. Not to brag, but as it turns out we know the director: Scott Aukerman, host and creator of Comedy Bang! Bang! and long-time producer and co-creator of Between Two Ferns.

We talked to Scott about his involvement with Between Two Ferns, how he brought The Lonely Island and Ferns together:

So rumor has it that you are a producer of “Between Two Ferns”

Yes, and this time I directed the ferns.

You are a Fern Director? Is that your title?

Yes, that’s my professional title. When I got there everyone thought my job was just to move the ferns around. It was a really funny day. We settled it eventually.

I think that’s a lie? So can you tell me the real story of your involvement with Between Two Ferns?

We started Ferns a few years ago for a different show I was working on that didn’t get made. We really liked the Ferns bit and so we put it on Funny or Die, which was really just starting up at the time and it got to be popular. [Ed. Note: The first Between Two Ferns starred Michael Cera, you can watch it here.] We thought that could be it, and then it turned out that Jimmy Kimmel was a fan of it and asked us to do one for his show. So we did that. Each time we do one of these, we think it will be the last one.

Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis: Jimmy Kimmel from Between Two Ferns

How do you keep the episodes fresh?

If talk shows got old people would not watch them five nights a week. The trick for us to keep them fresh is that I think we just try to do each one as funny as we can. We also try to challenge ourselves, like with the Oscar one we faced the challenge of interviewing that many celebrities – that many big names – in a row. The major hurdle always has to be is Zach interested in doing it. Sometimes there are ideas that we are all on board with, Zach included, and we just can’t make them work for logistical reasons. There are other ideas that he’s not interested in doing at all. So with each idea, we just have figure out if can make it work.

How did you hook up with The Lonely Island people?

A few months back I was talking to Andy [Samberg] and he told me that they had a new record coming out around this time. I’m a big fan of theirs and worked with him in the past, but didn’t think too much of it at the time, other than excitement about the record. Then I started to think about it some more and wanted to come up with a way to get Ferns involved with them. Their videos rule the internet and combining those videos with Zach’s stuff, for lack of a better word, it’s a marriage that would be too good of an idea to pass up. I knew there was an idea in there somewhere, but I didn’t know what it was yet, but I thought it would be really cool. I wrote to Zach about it and I never heard back from him. Around the time of the Oscars I checked back in with him and it turned out he had never read the email. He was immediately on board. I reached out to Andy and the guys and they were interested. They listened to the album and hit on the idea of Spring Break Anthem.

How did you get James Franco involved?

The trick for us was figuring out what we would do together. Once we knew it was the spring break one we thought it would be Zach interviewing The Lonely Island and they would do a live performance and then we came up with the idea of turning it into a Trojan horse where you think it’s a regular episode of Between Two Ferns and then it segued into our first musical guest, which is an idea we always wanted to do. Funny or Die got involved at that point and reached out to some people and James Franco sounded like he was really into it. We knew we had him for the Ferns part and The Lonely Island guys reached out separately and he agreed to do that part, too. That was great because it really integrated to the halfs. We really lucked out with James’ willingness to do stuff.

What goes into producing an episode of Between Two Ferns?

It’s a great group effort. We just try to get it done in the most fun way possible. All talk about ideas, we all pitch possibilities. There’s a lot of experimentation when we do them, even on the day we do them, we experiment to see what will be the best and what’s fun.

Is music going to get a bigger role on future Between Two Ferns? It seems like a natural fit.

I don’t want to spoil them but we have some ideas. If we ever do another Ferns again. We have no idea if we will ever do another one. But I think it’s really cool that The Lonely Island guys put this out as the first shot off the bow for their new record. I was really happy that they made this the new single from the new records and what they did with this video was amazing. It really blew me away, especially because the song is construed as a more controversial choice that not everyone agrees with. Some people do not agree with the gay marriage part of it, if you read the YouTube comments.

Wait, you read the comments?

The comments are a graveyard. But I think it’s really funny that people think that the YouTube comment section is a good platform to debate their views on gay marriage.

Watch Between Two Ferns and The Lonely Island’s “Spring Break Anthem” now:

Between Two Ferns With Zach Galifianakis: James Franco from Zach Galifianakis

Want the latest news from Comedy Bang! Bang!? Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter@comedybangbang and use the hashtag #cbbtv.

Comedy Bang! Bang! returns to IFC this summer

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.