Artfully Off

Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

Scott Aukerman Trolls Batman V Superman In New Spider-Man/Deadpool Comic

We all know Scott Aukerman (aka Hot Soccermom) can do it all. He hosts the talk show insanity that is Comedy Bang! Bang!, which just hit 100 episodes on IFC. He created the Earwolf network, which has become a heavyweight in the podcast game. But dreams do come true, because Scott has gone and done something that may blow everything that’s come before out of the water: He’s just written a new Spider-Man/Deadpool team-up comic for Marvel.

In the issue, Spider-Man/Deadpool #6, Marvel’s Merc with a Mouth/latest box office king gets his own movie and brings Spidey along, allowing the duo to really lay into their DC Comics rivals. At one point they go to see a movie clearly inspired by Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, which Deadpool spanked at the box-office earlier this year. They do not go easy on the oft-rivaled movie.

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Full of comic geek inside jokes — like how superhero flicks keep rebooting the same character over and over again — Aukerman’s story brims with his unique comedic sensibility and instinct for parody. Scott is no stranger to Marvel, having contributed stories to the Deadpool series as well as penning a tale about The Hulk’s shrink. It’s safe to say he can now add “Comic Writerman” to his long list of nicknames.

Spider-Man/Deadpool #6 is available right now digitally on Comixology and in fine comic book stores everywhere.

NY Times and Entertainment Weekly Name Documentary Now! One of the Year’s Best Shows

As daffy elderly shut-ins, hipster journalists, smooth ’70s rockers, and more, Fred Armisen and Bill Hader earned high praise from critics and fans for Documentary Now!, their love letter to the art of documentary filmmaking. With a keen eye for production and talent, the duo’s hilarious series (created with Seth Meyers, Rhys Thomas, and many others) expertly matched the look and feel of renowned docudramas like Grey Gardens, The Thin Blue Line, and Nanook of the North.

The results proved to be so funny and compelling that the series was selected by Entertainment Weekly as one of the best TV series of 2015. “Spoofing documentary classics and forms,” the magazine writes, “the former Saturday Night Live costars pushed past simple parody to craft ingenious valentines to the medium of film and sharp satire about how ‘reality’ is presented and how we represent and reveal ourselves on camera.” But the honors don’t stop there: Documentary Now! also made The New York Times’ list of the Best TV Shows of 2015. The Dronez staff is probably enjoying a celebratory microbrew toast right now after being honored by the Grey Lady.

For more Documentary Now!, check out the complete archives, music from the show, and full episodes. 

Listen to Walking Dead Creator Robert Kirkman Talk About the Show’s Potential Ending on Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast

On today’s episode of WTF with Marc Maron, our favorite podcast host sits down with a guest who is more proficient in the other type of comic — The Walking Dead creator and writer Robert Kirkman. The two talk about the basics of the comic book industry and Kirkman’s rags-to-riches story of entering said industry by self-publishing his first comics from his home in Kentucky.

Marc’s old friend Bob Fingerman also stops by and talks about Minimum Wage, his comic book series that recently returned from a 15-year break. Marc himself was drawn in as a character in the issue released on July 1st. Comedy Bang! Bang! host Scott Aukerman, Patton Oswalt, David Cross and a bunch of other very funny people are Minimum Wage fans, so there’s obviously something cool going on there. Well, obviously: a caricature of the pent-up Maron rage is captured within its pages.

Listen to and download the latest episode of WTF here.

For more on The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead, visit our friends at AMC.

10 Movies You Didn’t Know Were Based on Comics

By Sara Franks-Allen

When we hear the term “comic book movie,” we usually think of caped superheroes taking on powered-up villains to save humanity. But comics have been the inspiration for all kinds of movies that don’t wrap their characters in capes and spandex. Here are 10 films that you may not know were comics before they were movies; from lesser-known superhero stories to crime dramas to tales of nuclear war.

10. Ghost World (2001)

Ghost World began life as a feature in Daniel Clowes’ one-man anthology comic, Eightball. Because of the serialized nature of the stories, the original tale is more of a string of slice-of-life incidents that gradually build to the end of the two main characters’ friendship. The Terry Zwigoff film has a stronger overarching plot with a new character: sad sack blues nerd Seymour, played by living Daniel Clowes drawing Steve Buscemi.


9. American Splendor (2003)

It’s no surprise that American Splendor is based on the autobiographical comics of the same name. Even a quick glance at the movie poster tells you that this is a comic book movie, though not the superhero kind. The film, like the comics, is a mostly accurate account of the life of comics scribe, jazz critic, and would-be record thief Harvey Pekar. Many of the early American Splendor stories were drawn by Pekar’s friend, the legendary underground comics artist R. Crumb. The lists of other artists who have drawn for the comic reads like a “who’s who” of modern comics greats.


8. Road to Perdition (2002)

The original Road to Perdition was a little-known graphic novel about an ex-mob enforcer and his son seeking revenge against John Looney, a real life early 20th century crime boss. The comic’s profile shot up when it was adapted into a movie with a star-studded cast headed up by Tom Hanks and Paul Newman. Max Allan Collins, the book’s author and a prolific mystery writer who once wrote the Dick Tracy newspaper strip, has said that the story is “an unabashed homage” to the famous manga series Lone Wolf and Cub.


7. From Hell (2001)

Though they share characters, a conspiracy theory, and a title in common, the book and movie versions of From Hell are very different animals. The comic is an exhaustively researched tome by Alan Moore (Watchmen) and Eddie Campbell exploring a theory on the killer and motives behind the infamous Jack the Ripper murders. The film is more a traditional mystery that mashes together numerous characters, inexplicably alters names, and swaps a realistic portrayal of Victorian-era prostitution for a romance between Johnny Depp and Heather Graham. Moore disliked the adaptation and has distanced himself from movie versions of his comics work.


6. A History of Violence (2005)

Before it was an acclaimed film directed by David Cronenberg with Viggo Mortensen in the lead role, A History of Violence was a graphic novel by writer John Wagner (co-creator of Judge Dredd) and artist Vince Locke, who drew the zombie comic Deadworld. The movie’s first half stays very close to the source material; the famously brutal diner scene is all but identical to the one in the comic. But the latter half begins to diverge. The comic deals with the heist that lead to main character Tom starting a new life under an assumed name and Richie, Tom’s childhood friend who suffered the consequences that Tom escaped. The film focuses more on the effects on Tom’s family when his past is revealed. The details of his old life are kept vague and Richie becomes his mobster brother.

5. Men in Black (1997)

The Men in Black comics were created by writer Lowell Cunningham and artist Sandy Carruthers. The series went through a pair of three issue miniseries and three different publishers (technically the comics are owned by Marvel today) before becoming the more widely known movie franchise. The movies only use the most basic elements of the comics. There’s a secret organization shielding the world from the weird stuff, agents named Jay, Kay, and Zed, and the neuralyzer (“flashy thing”). But the comics had a broader scope — the agents battled mutants, demons, and various legendary monsters as well as aliens — and a darker tone. The agency’s aims were not as benign as they are in the movies and agents would go as far as murdering people in order to protect the secrecy of their group and its operations.


4. The Crow (1994)

The Crow started out as a four-issue miniseries by James O’Barr published in 1989. The film sticks to the story from the comics, telling how Eric Draven is resurrected by a mystical crow to take vengeance on the thugs who murdered him and his fiancee. Sequels to both the movie and the comic have alternately focused on Eric and other human avatars for the crow spirit. The film’s release was partly overshadowed by the accidental on-set death of 28-year-old star Brandon Lee.


3. Monkeybone (2001)

Monkeybone has its roots in a 1995 comic called Dark Town, written by Kaja Blackley and drawn by Vanessa Chong. Both star a man in a coma who ends up in a strange world of puppets and has to keep the residents from taking control of his comatose body while he works to escape before he’s taken off life support. Director Henry Selick thought the comic was a perfect fit with his sensibilities and stop-motion animation directing prowess. He initially planned to stick to the comic’s look and story, but the film evolved into the story of a cartoonist who meets and clashes with his most famous creation. Monkeybone was a critical and commercial flop, while Dark Town ended on a cliffhanger and never got a second issue.


2. Mystery Men (1999)

We doubt you’ll be shocked to learn that this team of second-string superheroes had their origins in comics, but you may be surprised to learn exactly where. Rather than headlining their own book the team got their start in the pages of “Flaming Carrot” Comics. The Flaming Carrot is himself a B-list superhero, an ordinary guy who read too many comics, went bonkers, and put on a giant carrot mask to fight crime. Due to the difficulties of making a man wearing a carrot mask with fire coming out of the top look convincing on film, the Carrot has yet to make his cinematic debut. But Mr. Furious, the Shoveler, and Dr. Heller all came from his comic.


1. Tamara Drewe (2010)

This cheeky British comedy (directed by Stephen Frears of Dangerous Liasions and The Queen fame) began life as a newspaper comic strip and graphic novel by Posy Simmonds. A modern retelling of Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Maddening Crowd, Tamara Drewe tells the whimsical tale of a young woman (Gemma Arterton) whose new nose job and blossoming womanhood drives her hometown village simply batty. A critical hit upon its release, Tamara Drewe is likely one of the few comic adaptations that your grandmother has seen.

9 Times SNL Stars Were Hilarious on IFC

SNL is celebrating the big 4-0 with a TV special airing this Sunday on NBC. It’s going to be one massive blow-out, featuring the likes of Dana Carvey, Will Ferrell, Eddie Murphy, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader and much, much more. As past and present stars of the late-night sketch show join forces, however, we can’t help but realize one of their obvious connecting threads: a lot of them also brought their talents to IFC.

Of course you can currently see Fred Armisen every Thursday night at 10p on IFC’s Portlandia. (This week he goes toe-to-toe with the creator of The Simpsons, Matt Groening.) Fred has thankfully paved the way for other current and former Not Ready or Primetime Players to lend their talents to IFC’s shows. Before SNL’s 40th anniversary special, take a look back at all those times the Not Ready for Primetime Players graced us with their presence.

9. Jason Sudeikis, Portlandia

No wonder Olivia Wilde wanted to shout to the rooftops about her sex life with Jason Sudeikis. His dreamy eyes will stop anyone in their tracks, which is exactly what happened when he seduced Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein into becoming his wives on Portlandia.

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8. Kristen Wiig, The Spoils of Babylon

While Kristen Wiig was a star player on SNL, leaving has done wonders for her career, as she’s appeared in numerous TV and movie projects. With the Spoils of Babylon, she gave us our new favorite character: the ridiculously overdramatic Cynthia Morehouse. No one gives a good slap fight performance like Wiig.


7. Andy Samberg, Portlandia

Mixologists are…unique individuals. You’ve probably run into them at bars trying to dazzle everyone around them with liquor bottle acrobatics and their heightened taste buds. The Brooklyn Nine-Nine star is perfect for a character like this, and he does make a cocktail with such finesse.

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6. Kate McKinnon, Comedy Bang! Bang!

Kate McKinnon might be relatively new to SNL, but she’s already found her niche — portraying just about every kind of crazy lady you could think of. While she became a traveling seamstress for Late Night with Seth Meyers and an enthusiastic cat lady on SNL, she went on Comedy Bang! Bang! as a “professional downstairs neighbor.”

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5. Will Ferrell, The Spoils of Babylon

So much talent went into making the Spoils of Babylon miniseries a hit, but we have to give a lot of props to these stars of SNL. Will Ferrell, who also produced the series with his Funny or Die company, leads us through this magical journey as “the indisputable master of dramatic fiction,” Eric Jonrosh.


4. Dana Carvey, The Birthday Boys

There’s a reason why high-end fashion ads look so perfectly put together: the models are standing totally still so as to not wrinkle or damage the immaculate clothes. If you ask Dana Carvey’s fashion designer character, his horseback riding gear is so expensive that they’re not even used to go horseback riding. You can find appropriate gear in a thrift store.

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3. Bill Hader, Portlandia

Not to be confused with Michael Keaton’s Oscar-nominated turn as Birdman, here Bill Hader becomes the love child of Hugh Jackman and Dog the Bounty Hunter. If the zombie apocalypse ever drops and technology as we know it proves to be useless…well, we still wouldn’t want to run into Birdman.

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2. Maya Rudolph, Portlandia

Banana daiquiris are much more than drinks — they’re symbolic of relationships. After all, as Nance and Peter sing along with Maya Rudolph, it takes two bananas to make a perfect daiquiri. If you add a third, you just can’t get it through the straw.

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1. Will Forte, Comedy Bang! Bang!

Will Forte would do anything for love…of Pepsi…even though he’s admittedly a Coke guy. But this one pretzel stand in this one mall close to where he was tailing his ex-girlfriend had the best Pepsi, so obviously he wasn’t not going to land his airplane in the parking lot.

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15 Surprising Facts About The Punisher

Even if you’ve read every back issue of Frank Castle’s vigilante missions, these nuggets about the production of his Hollywood adventures will surprise you.

1. The Punisher had previously graced the big screen

The Marvel character was first adapted for film in 1989 with actor Dolph Lundgren in the starring role. That movie, also called The Punisher, went straight-to-video without a theatrical release in the United States.


2. The Punisher was originally an adversary for Spider-Man.

The Punisher first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #129 in 1974. He wouldn’t get his own standalone comic until a limited run five-issue series in 1986.


3. The film was grounded in specific comic storylines

The 2004 adaptation of The Punisher was primarily based on two Marvel comic book series: “The Punisher: Year One” and “Welcome Back, Frank.”


4. Frank Castle had to move for the film

In the original comic book, Frank Castle’s family was murdered by the Mob in New York’s Central Park, not by a money-laundering kingpin in Tampa, as seen in the film adaptation.


5. The Punisher was nearly an Iraq War vet

The movie was originally supposed to open with a scene of Frank and his later partner, Agent Jimmy Weeks, fighting in Delta Force in the invasion of Kuwait during the First Iraq War, but the scene was cut for budgetary reasons.


6. Thomas Jane didn’t want to be the Punisher

Jane had never read The Punisher comics before taking the role of Frank Castle and initially turned the part down because he didn’t like superheroes. What ultimately attracted the actor to the role was that the Punisher was a superhero without any super powers.


7. Thomas Jane could give the Punisher a run for his money

The actor did 90 percent of his own stunt work on The Punisher.


8. None of the stunts were enhanced by CGI

Stunt coordinator and second unit director Gary Hymes had to pull off the stunts with practical effects due to the film’s relatively low $30 million budget and limited 50-day shooting schedule. Because of these restrictions, every single stunt had to be meticulously storyboarded.

9. Jane trained like the Punisher

To prepare for the role of Frank Castle, Jane endured a six-month regimen that included up to four hours of weightlifting and cardio per day. He added 35 pounds of muscle for the part. He also participated in tactical weapons training with a former California police officer and SWAT team member and received brief training in a combination of Japanese, Israeli, and Filipino martial arts.


10. John Travolta had a Roman influence

He modeled the Howard Saint character on Roman emperors.


11. The film gave the Punisher’s outfit its origins

The backstory about the Punisher getting his iconic skull shirt is never explained in the comics, and the movie’s plot points about the graphic allegedly warding off evil spirits was invented entirely by director Jonathan Hensleigh.


12. Castle’s tropical resort was a little more humble

The Castle family compound in Puerto Rico was actually two public bathroom structures on a public beach in Tampa, Florida that the production spruced up to look like houses and cabanas.


13. Saint’s nightclub wasn’t too swinging, either

The “Saints & Sinners” nightclub exterior was actually a bank located in downtown Tampa.


14. Wrestling fans will recognize The Russian

Longtime grappler Kevin Nash portrayed the giant assassin.


15. Frank Castle’s wife has also battled the X-Men

The Punisher isn’t the only movie based on a Marvel comic to feature actress Rebecca Romijn. She also portrays the shape-shifting mutant Mystique in four X-Men movies.

Marc Maron, Conan and Other Comedians Pay Tribute to Robin Williams

Some grew up with him as Mork–a silver-gloved alien from the planet Ork (“Nanu nanu!”). A later generation knew him as a genie, or Peter Pan. No matter how you were introduced to Robin Williams–the comedic legend who passed away this past Monday–it’s likely he’s made you laugh, hard, countless times in his career. His loss is a huge one, one big enough to garner a response from the president, so it’s no surprise the comedy world is paying tribute. Here are a few examples.

Conan O’Brien, along with Andy Richter and guest Will Arnett, gave an on-air salute:


Marc Maron reposted his hour-long WTF interview with Robin.


Others took to Twitter to share their thoughts:

Norm Macdonald gave a multi-tweet rundown of his first meeting with Robin.


As a reminder of Robin’s genius, here’s his first appearance on The Tonight Show way back in ’81:

50 Reasons to Love David Cross

Few comedians have accomplished as much as David Cross has throughout his career, and fewer still have done it while keeping as finely honed an edge as he has. Need some examples? Check out these reasons to love David Cross.

1. The Ben Stiller Show

Watch him here with the writers of the seminal sketch show the morning after it got cancelled.


2. Mr. Show

Teaming with the great Bob Odenkirk, this HBO series was ahead of its time and wonderful to behold.


3. Arrested Development

Tobias Funke, the aspiring actor and never-nude who insists he’s not gay. Really.


4. The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret

Selling energy drinks in England shouldn’t be this hilarious, but it absolutely is.


5. One Night Stand

A half-hour comedy special from 1996 – the kind of thing which launched many stars.


6. The Pride Is Back

Cross’s first hour-long HBO special, in its entirety. Enjoy!


7. Shut Up You Fucking Baby!

His first comedy album from 2002 featured a mini-documentary on the “enhanced CD” that’s highly amusing.


8. Let America Laugh

His first stand-up comedy concert film features album material and bonus stuff!


9. It’s Not Funny

His second comedy album from 2004 features this hidden track about celebrity poker and the assholery of Creed singer Scott Stapp.


10. Bigger and Blackerer

The third stand-up show from 2010 mocks Chris Rock’s Bigger and Blacker album, and many, many other things. Even himself. Especially himself.
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Meet Kyle: The Intern on “Maron”

Marc Maron is certainly a busy guy (both in the show and in real life), so it’s not hard to understand why he might need some extra help every now and then. Enter Kyle: the grandson of one of Marc’s mother’s friends who’s fresh out of college and is eagerly searching for a foothold in the entertainment industry. Marc hires him on the spot, and from then on Kyle becomes the comic relief on an already very funny show. Watch a mash-up of some of Kyle’s best moments from “Maron”  below.

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