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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.

Want the latest news from IFC? Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @IFC

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar

via GIPHY

IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”


Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”


But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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