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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.

Spirit Awards booze

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

ISA booze 2

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

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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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