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Living in a Box

Amy York Rubin Explains How Not to Get ‘Boxed In’

Watch every episode of Boxed In right now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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Boxed In premieres today on IFC’s Comedy Crib. In a special guest editorial, creator Amy York Rubin discusses her inspiration behind the series.

There are a lot of bullshit and straight-up lies that adults, and our culture in general, ram down our throats as young, impressionable children. “You can do anything if you put your mind to it!” Definitely not true. I will never be able to tell time on an analog clock with 100% confidence that I’m identifying the correct hour. Is that a lower bar for achievement than you anticipated? Probably. Sorry to let you down so soon. Get in line behind my parents.

Some of the lies we’re told, however, are a little less direct. They’re a little trickier. One of the biggest, most pervasive lies of all is simply the idea of heterosexuality. Guess what, it doesn’t exist. Everyone is faking it. The seduction of normalcy is that strong. Heterosexuality and the concept of any kind of hard and fast binary identity is just plain bullshit. To anyone not living under a bigoted rock, this is not news. However, despite this somewhat old idea, most people don’t live according to this rule. I mean, there are more “socially acceptable,” lived variations in the Myers-Briggs test than there are for gender and sexual preference. I’m not saying you can’t Google a long fucking list of sexual orientations or non-conforming gender type identities. I’m just saying trying to actually LIVE in the world like that is kinda rare and tricky.

Boxed In Fashion

I’ve spent most of my life trying not to belong to any group but still trying to reap all the benefits you get from belonging to a group. For example, I don’t feel 100% comfortable calling myself a “lesbian” but I made an entire web series where I identify myself as a lesbian in the logline. I was born with a vagina but I’d say 85% of the time that I’m around other people with vaginas I’m shocked that we both have one. This is the dilemma –- connection with other people tends to come from similarities, being part of the same group, identifying a shared experience, that sort of thing. BUT, at least for me personally (and I’d judgmentally and rudely argue that for everyone) it’s a fucking lie and a performance of a lifetime to suggest that any one of us belong firmly in any one group. Yet this is what we do. I understand the necessity of doing this (social and political power yadda yadda) but I also believe that the consequences of this outweigh the benefits because it forces us into this teeny, tiny, frustrating, mirage of a box that doesn’t allow us to actually be who we are or do what we might want.

Boxed In Therapist

The truth is, no one is straight. No one is gay. No one is female. No one is male. No one ONLY eats seeds. Except vegans and even vegans sometimes eat other stuff. Everyone is an unidentifiable mishmash of various bits and pieces of identities, allegiances, preferences, genders, sexes, ethnicities…maybe except Nazis, but you get the point.

Boxed In Might Be Gay

So, this new series that I’ve made for IFC, wonkily and perhaps a bit on-the-nose called Boxed In, is an exploration of this idea and what it looks like to try and live by this belief. In the series, I wanted to explore this life-long and continuing personal pursuit of mine to connect with people – make friends, get laid, have fun etc. – without fully committing to, specifically, any lesbian identity or derivative of such identity. I guess, if I was one of those people who did exactly as she wanted and didn’t have any judgments about anything, I’d just shut-up and call myself “queer.” That word is probably closest to everything I’m talking about and does kind of get around this issue of a binary identity…buuuut I just cannot bring myself to say, “Hey. I’m Amy and I’m queer.” Sorry. Maybe I still have some residual shame issues. Definitely possible. And I respect everyone who wears a beanie in the southern California heat and who drives a Vespa un-ironically and who call themselves queer, but I just cannot do it.

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So, my queerness has no name. And I believe a lot of people (most people) have a similar issue. They just don’t fit perfectly anywhere. However, most people (to my shock and awe) are more willing to squeeze themselves into a box in the name of human connection, acceptance and socio-political power. Those people are fucking cowards and they need to stop. Everybody get out of your fake box. You do NOT fit. Although, after watching this series and getting a sneak peek at what it’s like to try and not be in a box –- perhaps a bit isolating, confusing, stressful and at times hypocritical — you might want to stay firmly in your box. Whatever, you do you but I still think you’re faking it.

Amy York Rubin received critical acclaim for her 2013 popular “darkly comedic” web series, Little Horribles, which was named one of the top ten web series of the year by Variety. The triple-threat performer continues to write and direct in Los Angeles and has collaborated with comedians such as Sarah Silverman, Ilana Glazer, Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant.

Check out an episode of Boxed In below. Click here to watch the full series.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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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

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

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IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….

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IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.

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IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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