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10 Big Screen Comedies That Spawned Musicals

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While there has always been a rich tradition of adapting feature films into Broadway spectaculars, it seems like that’s all The Great White Way is doing nowadays. (We even had a Spider-Man musical! Though it wasn’t really supposed to be a full-on comedy, the premise was laughable.) But there have been a ton of uproarious films that have found success in musical form. Take Laura Benanti in The Wedding Singer, for example. She wowed audiences on stage as Julia, the character made famous by Drew Barrymore in the Adam Sandler-led film. Benanti is now taking that success to the New York Spring Spectacular, which is a unique musical event featuring Dancing With the Stars’ Derek Hough and the Rockettes. (Get tickets now!)

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There have been a number of hugely successful musical adaptations that have come before and after, however, such as The Producers and even Evil Dead. But comedies have always proved to be the best source material. Here’s a look at 10 funny films that made their way to the stage.

10. The Wedding Singer

Some films were practically made for musical renditions, and The Wedding Singer is one of them. Aside from the unique brand of humor that fits so well with the stage, there’s a lot of great music moments between Sandler and Barrymore worthy of a more grand production. Unfortunately, the show only ran for a few months in 2006. Maybe they should’ve gone the jukebox musical route and included all the ’80s hits from the movie.


9. Legally Blonde

The idea of setting the hit Reese Witherspoon comedy to music was a good idea, as the Broadway adaptation of a blonde bimbo who goes off to study law at Harvard was a modest success with a substantial fan following. It also introduced Broadway audiences to Laura Bell Bundy and inspired a reality show competition to find a performer to take over the role of Elle Woods.


8. Shrek

Shrek, Donkey, Fiona and the gang came to the Broadway stage, and they brought songs like “Donkey Pot Pie” and “Freak Flag.” Fans who loved the original animated film starring Mike Meyers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz probably got a lot of laughs out of the musical, especially during that annoyingly catchy and widely recognized “Welcome to Duloc” number.


7. Monty Python and the Holy Grail

“We eat ham, and jam, and Spam a lot.” So goes the famous line from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and so goes the name of its successful musical adaptation, Spamalot. Playwright and lyricist Eric Idle, and composers John Du Prez and Neil Innes road their invisible horses all the way to three Tony Awards.


6. Sister Act

It was about time that Sister Act got the stage treatment, and it became a reality in 2006. Even Whoopi Goldberg had a hand in it, playing Mother Superior in one of the production’s runs. If there was ever a film comedy suited for a musical interpretation, it was this story of a lounge singer hiding out in a convent.

5. Bring It On

A musical about the movie where Kirsten Dunst’s cheerleading squad battled a rival school for all-time cheerleading glory? Yeah, it kinda sounds ridiculous, but the show found some success when it was adapted a few years back. Hey, the movie already had peppy cheer routines and an over-the-top choreographer in Sparky Polastri. The musical basically writes itself.


4. Elf

If you’re expecting the Elf musical to be anything like the Will Ferrell film, you’re…half right. The story is the same — a human raised as an elf seeks out his birth family — but the musical has far more jazz hands and enough Christmas cheer to make even Buddy barf. Just listen:


3. Kinky Boots

Cyndi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein put the kink back in Broadway with the Kinky Boots musical. The 2005 film featured future Oscar winner Chiwetel Ejiofor as drag queen Lola, who helps an uptight shoe factory owner keep his business alive and kicking. While the musical used the same storyline, it strutted to the rhythm of its own drum and earned two major Tony wins in the process.


2. School of Rock

Jack Black’s popular film about a rocker posing as a substitute teacher  was bound to hit the stage. The production hasn’t debuted just yet — you’re going to have to wait until December 6th for that — but kids from all over have been lining up to audition for the stage rendition (which has a book by the creator of Downton Abbey) that will surely whip up some ticket sales. Hear them auditioning below:


1. Young Frankenstein

Did you ever think that Dr. Frankenstein’s roll in the hay with Inga from Young Frankenstein would’ve worked much better as a musical number? Well, that actually came to be. Sutton Foster and Christopher Fitzgerald starred in the Young Frankenstein musical, Mel Brooks’ follow-up to The Producers.


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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.