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DID YOU READ

Jeff Garlin on Improv, Little League, and Dealin’ with Idiots

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The world of youth sports can be a stressful, challenging experience, filled with awkward social interactions and unexpected life lessons. And that’s just among the parents.

In his new film, Dealin’ with Idiots, veteran comedian Jeff Garlin explores the strange world of Little League — specifically, the eccentric parents, guardians, and coaches that populate the periphery of such leagues — with some help from a few friends and the real-world characters that inspired the film. The film features an impressive cast of familiar actors (including Fred Willard, Bob Odenkirk, Timothy Olyphant, Gina Gershon, and Kerri Kenney) ad-libbing their way through bizarre interactions with fictional comedian Max Morris (played by Garlin), who has made it his mission to learn what these weird people are like when they’re not anywhere near a baseball field.

IFC spoke with Garlin about the film, which he starred in and directed.

IFC: So, I can probably guess the answer to this, but where did the whole idea for the movie come from?

JEFF GARLIN: Going to my son’s little league games!

IFC: Were the people there really this weird?

GARLIN: They were actually worse, because they weren’t funny and they had no redeeming qualities.

IFC: It seems like a good chunk of the film is improvised. Is that the case?

GARLIN: It’s not a good chunk. The whole thing was improvised.

IFC: Wow. Okay, so as a director, do you find it’s easy to direct a project with everyone improvising and ad-libbing? I mean, you never know what to expect from any take or what direction it will go…

GARLIN: Well, that’s what I like doing. That’s what I enjoy most.

IFC: Was there ever a point when you thought, “Man, I wish I had scripted something here…”?

GARLIN: There’s always going to be scenes you think would’ve been better scripted. That’s always going to happen. That happened on Curb Your Enthusiasm every couple of episodes. So maybe there were one or two things I wish I could’ve scripted.

IFC: I imagine there must have been some surprises during filming with the way certain elements developed. Was there anything that really surprised you as you were making the film?

GARLIN: It all surprised me, because I’m so entertained by everybody in the movie. I was surprised by everything they did and said.

IFC: The cast is fantastic. How did you connect each of the actors with the roles they played?

GARLIN: As I start writing things, I begin thinking about who would be good for what. I got only positive feedback from everybody in terms of wanting to do it, and as time wore on and we got closer to filming they said, “I want to talk to you about my character.” I said, “Just do what you want and we’ll adjust it there.”

IFC: That’s a pretty amazing amount of flexibility with the story. It seems like it would be a daunting task to make a film that’s so loose and unscripted…

GARLIN: Not daunting for me.

IFC: With all of that improvising, you must have accumulated a lot of footage. How much footage did you end up with?

GARLIN: My first cut was almost two hours, but I liked making it shorter [and] making it funnier.

IFC: Did you learn anything about the Little League experience while you were making this?

GARLIN: No, I learned nothing, to be honest with you.

IFC: Huh. Okay, I expected some sort of insightful answer there about what the experience taught you…

GARLIN: Right, I know! You expect I would’ve learned something, but I learned nothing.

IFC: So would you recommend the Little League experience to other parents?

GARLIN: I recommend nothing. I don’t know anything. I wouldn’t recommend it one way or another. They’d have to be motivated on their own with that one.

IFC: So what else do you have going on these days?

GARLIN: I’m still continuing on with my podcast, By The Way. I also have a new show on ABC called The Goldbergs, and I have a documentary I’m producing called Finding Vivian Maier.

IFC: What’s the documentary about?

GARLIN: It’s about an unknown, but now known, street photographer.

IFC: How did you get involved with the film?

GARLIN: I read about it.

IFC: Anything more you can tell us about it? It sounds interesting…

GARLIN: It’s sort of a mystery and a biography because this woman was a nanny and never put her pictures out publicly, and now that they’ve been discovered she’s considered one of the world’s most famous street photographers. But she died before all this happened.

IFC: That sounds fascinating. But before we’re through here, let’s change gears a bit. I feel like Curb Your Enthusiasm, which you produced and had a recurring role in, was this great product of its time and so unique. I’m not sure there’s any show right now that’s really filling that void, either — or even could, for that matter. Are there any shows that remind you of Curb Your Enthusiasmin some ways these days?

GARLIN: I think that you have something like Girls, for example, that’s very real and interesting and different from what’s going on. I also think Veep is similar to Curb Your Enthusiasm, so yeah, I think they’re out there.

IFC: So, after making Dealin’ With Idiots, can we expect to see on that side of the camera more often? Did you enjoy the experience?

GARLIN: I love it. It’s very creative. It’s very exciting. There’s nothing negative about it.

Dealin’ with Idiots is out in limited release now and available digitally via Amazon and iTunes. You can find out more about Jeff’s current and upcoming projects at JeffGarlin.com.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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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.