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Brooke Van Poppelen on Performing in Strange Places

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When it comes to comedy venues, Brooke Van Poppelen doesn’t discriminate. She’s performed on John Oliver’s New York Stand-Up Show, in a Chicago deli and, as part of IFC’s Comedy Drop web series, a New York City tattoo parlor. To find out how she’s able to elicit laughter in unexpected places, we asked Brooke questions about her difficult, slightly terrifying craft.

Aside from Comedy Drop, where was the strangest—or most interesting—place you’ve done stand up?
Well, I hate to brag but one time in Chicago my improv team performed in a deli to a few people eating hot beef sandwiches. Then there was the time I performed at a biker bar and the “stage” was standing on the bar Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure style. Luckily I didn’t knock anyone’s hog over.

Where was the first place you ever performed?
I tried stand up for the first time at the infamous Lyon’s Den open mic on Chicago’s North side in 2003. That open mic was the starting point for so many Chicago ex-pats who are all over television, film and radio now. It’s pretty awesome to think about sometimes. I fell offstage and onto my back because the heel of my vintage boot broke off. The host had to help peel me off the floor. I knew it could only go up from there.

Performing in front of crowds—especially ones not expecting comedy—has to be tough. Do you have any rituals to shake pre-show jitters?
I just throw myself into situations. The more I pre-judge and overthink the worse it gets. And here’s some sage advice — any time comedy is going to be competing with an unsuspecting person eating pancakes, you’re definitely going to lose. So, the most important thing you can do is try to be likable and confident. Inside you’re dying but you have to push through. Oh man. It hurts to think about. Comedy Drop was one of those moments.

How do you approach joke writing? Do you hunker down and write, or does inspiration need to find you first?
I am a mixed bag but I veer toward the personal because it’s less likely people will have similar material to you. I just try not to tell personal stories/ jokes about stuff that happens to everyone — like, “this one time I was tired and hungry. Can you guys believe that?!”

Is a joke ever fully “ready,” or is it always “in progress”?
It is always a work in progress. The hard part is admitting that it still needs work. The jokes that get a solid laugh are the hardest to work on because you”re like, eh– good enough. But why wouldn’t you want to take a solid laugh and turn it into a joke that makes people have a seizure from laughing so hard? I’m lazy.

What is the best piece of stand up advice you’ve ever heard?
People love to give you advice in this business. There’s a new list on BuzzFeed every day of “amazing advice from comedians” and it always rules. People like Amy Poehler and Louis C.K. are people I am going to listen to when they dish advice. They’re so good at it.

I was thinking I’d like to give some advice if that’s cool. And it’s something that I tell myself when I am auditioning and trying to get “next level” work to land. I think you have to dream big and visualize and fantasize that you are going to get that job or get that part every single time you go into something. You bring great energy to the table when you do. It’s learning to not care when you don’t get it and have a really quick recovery time from that. I used to get so crushed when I didn’t get something and would let that flavor my attitude while auditioning. I would bring an energy like “Why would they cast me? This role is too big for me and I never get anything anyway. This is what I get for dreaming. Dumb me. ” Ugh.

Get excited that you are asked to audition for anything, bring that vibe with you and then immediately let it go the minute it’s over.

What’s a joke that makes you laugh, or smile, every time?

There are so many jokes I love to hear from my comic friends. My favorite is when comedians actually shut the hell up and stop looking at their own notebook for a second because we know that so and so is about to launch into one of their best jokes. We all nudge each other like “here it comes!” That is commiserating at it’s best. I was performing on Greg Barris’ awesome show Heart of Darkness last week and while Jim Gaffigan makes me cry with laughter all the time, he told a joke about car service in NYC that made me spit out some of my drink. He expertly imitated how you call, don’t even say anything and the guy immediately says “5 minute” then hangs up. Jim is like “hello? are you even going to ask where I live? And somehow they still show up.” I lost it. It’s hilarious because it’s a really specific, geographic experience. Only in NY, right?

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Holiday Extra Special

Make The Holidays ’80s Again

Enjoy the holiday cheer Wednesday December 21 at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Whatever happened to the kind of crazy-yet-cozy holiday specials that blanketed the early winter airwaves of the 1980s? Unceremoniously killed by infectious ’90s jadedness? Slow fade out at the hands of early-onset millennial ennui? Whatever the reason, nixing the tradition was a huge mistake.

A huge mistake that we’re about to fix.

Announcing IFC’s Joe’s Pub Presents: A Holiday Special, starring Tony Hale. It’s a celeb-studded extravaganza in the glorious tradition of yesteryear featuring Bridget Everett, Jo Firestone, Nick Thune, Jen Kirkman, house band The Dap-Kings, and many more. And it’s at Joe’s Pub, everyone’s favorite home away from home in the Big Apple.

The yuletide cheer explodes Wednesday December 21 at 10P. But if you were born after 1989 and have no idea what void this spectacular special is going to fill, sample from this vintage selection of holiday hits:

Andy Williams and The NBC Kids Search For Santa

The quintessential holiday special. Get snuggly and turn off your brain. You won’t need it.

A Muppet Family Christmas

The Fraggles. The Muppets. The Sesame Street gang. Fate. The Jim Henson multiverse merges in this warm and fuzzy Holiday gathering.

Julie Andrews: The Sound Of Christmas

To this day a foolproof antidote to holiday cynicism. It’s cheesy, but a good cheese. In this case an Alpine Gruyère.

Star Wars Holiday Special

Okay, busted. This one was released in 1978. Still totally ’80s though. And yes that’s Bea Arthur.

Pee Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special

Pass the eggnog, and make sure it’s loaded. This special is everything you’d expect it to be and much, much more.

Joe’s Pub Presents: A Holiday Special premieres Wednesday December 21 at 10P on IFC.

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It Ain't Over Yet

A Guide to Coping with the End of Comedy Bang! Bang!

Watch the final episodes tonight at 11 and 11:30P on IFC.

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After five seasons and 110 halved-hour episodes, Scott Aukerman’s hipster comedy opus, Comedy Bang! Bang!, has come to an end. Fridays at 11 and 11:30P will never be the same. We know it can be hard for fans to adjust after the series finale of their favorite TV show. That’s why we’ve prepared this step-by-step guide to managing your grief.

Step One: Cry it out

It’s just natural. We’re sad too.
Scott crying GIF

Step Two: Read the CB!B! IMDB Trivia Page

The show is over and it feels like you’ve lost a friend. But how well did you really know this friend? Head over to Comedy Bang! Bang!’s IMDB page to find out some things you may not have known…like that it’s “based on a Civil War battle of the same name” or that “Reggie Watts was actually born with the name Theodore Leopold The Third.”

Step Three: Listen to the podcast

One fascinating piece of CB!B! trivia that you might not learn from IMDB is that there’s a podcast that shares the same name as the TV show. It’s even hosted by Scott Aukerman! It’s not exactly like watching the TV show on a Friday night, but that’s only because each episode is released Monday morning. If you close your eyes, the podcast is just like watching the show with your eyes closed!

Step Four: Watch brand new CB!B! clips?!

The best way to cope with the end of Comedy Bang! Bang! is to completely ignore that it’s over — because it’s not. In an unprecedented move, IFC is opening up the bonus CB!B! content vault. There are four brand new, never-before-seen sketches featuring Scott Aukerman, Kid Cudi, and “Weird Al” Yankovic ready for you to view on the IFC App. There’s also one right here, below this paragraph! Watch all four b-b-bonus clips and feel better.

Binge the entire final season, plus exclusive sketches, right now on the IFC app.

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Everybody Sweats Now

The Four-Day Sweatsgiving Weekend On IFC

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This long holiday weekend is your time to gobble gobble gobble and give heartfelt thanks—thanks for the comfort and forgiveness of sweatpants. Because when it comes right down to it, there’s nothing more wholesome and American than stuffing yourself stupid and spending endless hours in front of the TV in your softest of softests.

So get the sweats, grab the remote and join IFC for four perfect days of entertainment.

sweatsgiving
It all starts with a 24-hour T-day marathon of Rocky Horror Picture Show, then continues Friday with an all-day binge of Stan Against Evil.

By Saturday, the couch will have molded to your shape. Which is good, because you’ll be nestled in for back-to-back Die Hard and Lethal Weapon.

Finally, come Sunday it’s time to put the sweat back in your sweatpants with The Shining, The Exorcist, The Chronicles of Riddick, Terminator 2, and Blade: Trinity. They totally count as cardio.

As if you need more convincing, here’s Martha Wash and the IFC&C Music Factory to hammer the point home.

The Sweatsgiving Weekend starts Thursday on IFC

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