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DID YOU READ

15 Things You Never Knew About Kingpin… Unless You’re Super Into the Movie

KINGPIN, Woody Harrelson, 1996, © MGM/courtesy Everett Collection

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Be sure to buff your balls… bowling balls, that is, and get ready for some little-known facts about the Farrelly brothers’ 1996 comedy, Kingpin.

1. WOODY HARRELSON WAS ONCE PETER FARRELLY’S ROOMMATE.

The pair lived together for four years while Harrelson filmed Cheers.


2. HARRELSON WAS A TERRIBLE BOWLER.

And we mean terrible. His bowling was so bad that bowling coaches were brought in to teach him how to look believable just throwing the ball down the lane. Because of this, stand-ins were used for most of the shots of Roy bowling.


3. BUT HE WAS COMMITTED TO LOOKING THE PART.

Harrelson shaved his head and grew an actual comb over to play Roy, but he wouldn’t go so far as to put on weight—the beer belly he sports in the movie was a fake.


4. CHRIS FARLEY WAS ORIGINALLY SUPPOSED TO PLAY ISHMAEL.

He had to drop out because he had contractually committed to Black Sheep.


5. RANDY QUAID CONVINCED BILL MURRAY TO APPEAR IN THE MOVIE.

Murray initially passed on the part of Big Ern; his friend Randy Quaid, who was cast as Ishmael after Farley dropped out, ultimately talked him into taking the role. Murray agreed to be in the movie only two weeks before shooting began.


6. BILL MURRAY IMPROVISED NEARLY ALL OF HIS LINES.

He’d speak with the directors about what they wanted to achieve in the scene, then change his lines with each take.


7. BIG ERN’S ICONIC ROSE BOWLING BALL WAS BOUGHT AT A PITTSBURGH PRO SHOP.

The filmmakers found it while shooting on location—no changes needed.


8. BILL MURRAY ACTUALLY BOWLED THE THREE TOURNAMENT-WINNING STRIKES.

Murray got lucky and made the three final strikes Ern needed to win.

9. LIN SHAYE SHOWED UP TO HER AUDITION IN CHARACTER AS THE LANDLADY.

She was so convincing that people thought she was a homeless person, and the costume she wore to her audition was used in the final movie. Shaye previously appeared in Dumb & Dumber as the dog owner Mrs. Neugeboren, and would go on to appear in the Farrellys’ next movie, There’s Something About Mary, as Mary’s perpetually tanned roommate Magda.


10. PAUL SIMON WAS A FAN OF THE BLACKMAIL SCENE.

After seeing the full cut—with music—of the scene in which the landlady blackmails Roy into having sex with her instead of paying rent, Simon personally approved the use of his song “The Sound of Silence.”


11. THE FARRELLYS DIDN’T HOLD CASTING CALLS FOR THE NON-SPEAKING ROLES.

Instead, they simply hired their friends.


12. THE 1986 MOVIE SOMETHING WILD INSPIRED KINGPIN’S AESTHETIC.

The Farrelly brothers liked the cinematography in Jonathan Demme’s road movie so much that they told their own cinematographer to copy its style.


13. THE MOVIE IS FULL OF CAMEOS BY PRO ATHLETES.

Legendary Major League Baseball pitcher Roger Clemens makes a cameo as the biker Skidmark. Pro golfers Billy Andrade and Brad Faxon also make appearances, as members of the crowd in the opening bowling scene. Roy also defeats pro-bowlers Mark Roth and Randy Pedersen in the final bowling tournament.


14. THE FARRELLY BROTHERS INCORPORATED THEIR LOVE OF BLUES TRAVELER.

John Popper, the band’s lead singer, plays the announcer at the final bowling tournament, and the whole band—dressed in Amish garb—play a song over the closing credits.


15. IT SHARES A CREW MEMBER WITH ANOTHER ‘90S BOWLING MOVIE MADE BY BROTHERS.

Costume designer Mary Zophres worked on both Kingpin and The Big Lebowski.

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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.