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Kate and Kumail ISA hosts

High Spirits

10 Reasons Why the Spirit Awards Are Better Than The Oscars

Catch the 2016 Spirit Awards live this Saturday, Feb. 27th, starting at 5P ET/2P PT on IFC.

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When it comes to honoring the year in film, you can keep your Oscars with their stuffy ceremony and fussy nominees. Who honestly wants to sit through the former sixth lead of Growing Pains (we remember where you came from, Leo) acting like he’s just won the Nobel Peace Prize for fighting a CGI bear? It’s all so important over there. Meanwhile, at the Spirit Awards, everyone is drunk. Now that’s a party! Here are just a few of the reasons the 2016 Film Independent Spirit Awards, airing this Saturday, Feb. 27th, live at 5P ET/2P PT, consistently takes the cake for most fun awards show of the season. (Click here to find IFC on your TV in your area. You can also stream the show live on IFC.com through your cable provider.)

10. There’s booze, and lots of it.

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The drinks flow at the Spirit Awards, keeping the vibe loose. You can’t be that pretentious when you have trouble standing to accept your award. Just ask screenwriter Derek Connolly, who famously refused to leave the stage while accepting the Best First Screenplay Award in 2013 for Safety Not Guaranteed. Thankfully, a quick thinking Bryan Cranston, still sporting his magnificent bald dome, acted as an impromptu bartender and lured the slurry screenwriter off the stage with the promise of more booze.


9. It has the best hosts.

While Chris Rock should bring some edge to this year’s Oscars ceremony, the Academy has a tendency to pick safe hosts like Ellen DeGeneres, Neil Patrick Harris and Billy Crystal. But the Spirit Awards relish in proving they don’t give a damn. Their M.O. seems to be picking people who are currently killing it in the comedy game. Patton Oswalt, Fred Armisen, and Sarah Silverman have all taken their turn offending the room. Just look at this year’s hosts, Kumail Nanjiani and soon-to-be Ghostbuster Kate McKinnon, to get an idea of how the ISAs picks comedy chops over star power. If you know how to make fun of filmmakers for being cheap and egotistical, you’ve got a home at the Spirit Awards.


8. As a result, it’s, um, actually funny.

Spirit Awards slap

Slap Spirit

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While the forced banter at the Oscars can often feel like recycled jokes from previous ceremonies, the Spirit Awards stands out for actually being funny. Whether it’s Joel McHale having an In Memoriam for the celebrities that will probably die next year, or Fred Armisen getting slapped by Miles Teller for not making enough Portlandia, the Spirit Awards view the comedy bits as more than just filler.


7. It’s also very filthy.

It’s no shocker when you have Sarah Silverman or Seth Rogen host your show, the censors are going to have a few conniption fits. The amazing thing about the Spirit Awards is that it feels like there are no rules. F bombs drop. Filth rains supreme. This isn’t a show for your grandparents, unless they swear like sailors and like movies starring Michael Shannon.


6. Sometimes it rocks!

While the Oscars trot out Rob Lowe singing to fairy princesses and explain film editing through The Lord of the Dance, when the Spirit Awards want some music, they set the Mother F*#%in’ place on fire. After a documentary about the heavy metal band Anvil broke big in 2008, they had the group tear the roof, er, tent off of the Spirit Awards. If you want your face to remain unmelted, then maybe this isn’t the show for you.


5. It has whatever this is…

When you have a show with no rules, then anything can happen. So when you give out free booze, and then give an award to Mickey Rourke, well…just watch. (Obviously, NSFW. Seriously)


4. Bill Murray actually wins.

How can the Oscars claim to honor the best in film, and yet Bill Murray has never won a single award? Bill Murray! He improvised the Dalai Lama monologue in Caddyshack! He’s a Ghostbuster! Thankfully, the Spirit Awards made up for this gross miscarriage of justice in 2004 by awarding him the Best Male Lead statue for his role in Lost in Translation. Now that’s probably a day Bill wouldn’t mind living over and over again.


3. It actually honors independent cinema.

Film Independent

Film Independent

We all love big movies, but what makes the Spirit Awards stand out is their focus on independence. The majority of the films nominated were made because the filmmakers believed in them, not because they were hoping to get rich, or even chase an award. These are labors of love, made by artists who spent years fighting to realize them. And because of that, there are a dizzying array of styles, stories and scales. Movie star power and big budgets can win you gold statues, but to take home a Spirit Award you need to do something truly special.


2. The nominees are diverse.

With #OscarsSoWhite the talk of this year’s awards season, it’s refreshing to see a crop of diverse nominees vying for Spirit Awards. From acting nods for everyone from Koudous Seihon and Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, to Best Feature nominees like Tangerine and Beasts of No Nation, this year’s Spirit Awards reflect the world we all live in and give the Oscars something to strive towards.


1. Did we mention there’s booze?

ISA Booze

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Celebrities — They’re just like us when they’re drunk. Very, very funny.

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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.