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Scott Aukerman on Comedy Bang! Bang!, SXSW and the worst job ever

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During this year’s SXSW festival, Scott Aukerman couldn’t stick around Austin for very long because he had to get back to Los Angeles to continue working on the second season of Comedy Bang! Bang! He took some time out of his schedule of podcast tapings, Comedy Bang! Bang! live and panel discussions to chat about Comedy Bang! Bang!, being drunk and the worst job he’s ever had.

Hi Scott, how do you think season two is going so far?

Great! The stuff we’ve shot is really amazing. It feels bigger this year. We’ve shot a couple of huge, huge pieces that are really technically impressive.

You have always been good at Green Screen.

This is stuff that’s not even on Green Screen. This is huge builds and massive crews and special effects and stuff. It’s been pretty cool. We taped one show, which is kind of a dream come true show for me, which I can’t really talk about what it is. But it’s a crazy show. Some of the IFC people were actually on set that particular day and they were blown away by it. It’s a really incredible episode. So yeah, season two has been going great. We are about six episodes in so far and we have 14 more to do.

Was such a large order daunting or exciting?

It wasn’t daunting when they first told me about it because I kind of am of the mindset that you just say to yes to everything and then just figure out how to do it, how to work it into your life somehow. So I said yes and I didn’t think much of it until week one or two of writing. Well, the first few weeks of writing we just wrote pieces and put cards up on the board, but after two weeks I made the cards for 201, 202, 203 all the way through 220 and realized the slots that we would need to fill and that’s when it started to feel really daunting to me. Like, oh there are nine or ten slots per episode that we need to fill, if there are 10 slots per episode that we need to fill, we need 200 cards. That’s when it started to fill daunting, like we’ve been working for two weeks and we have 20 cards. But by the end of the writing we had more stuff than we needed and realized we could cut stuff. We didn’t have to use something just because it was there.

How is the process different between the show, the video podcast and your regular podcast?

Obviously we put a ton of work into the TV show. The podcast for me is 100% improvisational, so I put no thought into it other than the catchphrase and the engineer picks the plug song from the internet. That is just completely improvisational, I just show up and do it and fly by the seat of my pants. Same with the video podcast, they are just filming what I am doing. As for the TV show there’s just way more work going into it, but at the same time, half of it is improv’d as well. That’s the part that always give me a knot in my stomach on the day that we do it, like, ‘oh man, how is this going to go. I have this celebrity on the show and I’ve never met them before and I’m supposed to improv a whole interview with them and do bits with them.’ But it always turns out great.

Does grapefruit vodka help? [Ed note: Scott is drinking a grapefruit vodka.]

Yes, I’m drunk the entire show. It’s a lot like Match Game 77 like that. I am completely obliterated the entire time and that helps. So if you’re reading this, just get drunk! It helps! It helps you through life. You know, just self medicate. What I want to get out there to people is that you can bury your issues down so far that they never have to come to the surface.

Joking aside, your job does seem incredibly hard, because you’re improv’ing but you’re also in charge and have to keep the show moving along and on track.

Thank you so much for noticing!

You’re welcome, but really it seems like a stressful job.

It’s not stressful for the podcast any more, but it is interesting when I am on other people’s shows or podcasts, I can just be funny and be myself. If I’m on Doug Loves Movies, for instance, I can just lay out and tell a joke and I don’t have to be constantly talking. When you’re the host of the show you have to be constantly steering. Sometimes people tell me, ‘Oh wow, I heard you on another show and you were much funnier than you are on your show.’ Which is a lovely compliment, by the way. When you’re the host of something you do have to be mindful of the whole and keep it moving in the direction that you want it to go and you can’t just be the sarcastic jerk who says funny things.

Well you could, but it probably wouldn’t make great television.

Right, you could have as an interview style that you ask someone a question and whatever they say, just make fun of it and then stare at them.

You have been growing your Earwolf network, maybe there’s a space in it for a show like that.

Yeah, there could be a show like that. I’m not sure how I would get anyone to agree to be on it, but it could be a show.

Speaking of Earwolf, you have been building an empire for yourself there.

An empire? Oh you mean my house. Yes, I did set out to build the largest house in America, bigger than the “Queen of Versailles” house. The documentary inspired me, but not build a house solely of rooms, but comprised solely of bathrooms. I have a one-bedroom, 450-bath house, and I’m slowly adding more. Sometimes I’ll just think, ‘I need to add another bath.’

I agree. You should only use a bathroom once.

Exactly! I don’t want to use a toilet after I’ve already used it! That’s just diz-gusting.

It also seems that you have a great diaspora of talent coming out of your shows. Do you feel sort of paternal watching James Adomian get bigger and bigger or Chelsea Peretti writing on “Saturday Night Live”?

Well, James Adomian has been on my show a lot. I’ve been a fan of him forever. I saw him do an improve show back in 2000. It’s hard to feel paternal when you see a guy like that and you think, ‘Oh that guy is going to be huge.’ It’s more like you as a producer want to work with him because you know he is going to be successful. I wouldn’t take any credit for his success, because I’m just a guy who recognized that he was going to be incredibly successful and said, ‘Please do it on my show and not anyone else’s!’ Most of the people I work with would be incredibly successful without me and I’m just happy to be able to go along for the ride.

What is an awkward high school experience that you are willing to share?

An awkward time for me was day one of Freshman year through last day of senior year. I used to work at Knottsberry Farm…

Really?

I used to work at Disneyland as well.

Were you in costume?

I was in costume at Disneyland as Goofy and Brer Bear and Captain Hook.

Who is Brer Bear?

From the “Song of the South,” which is the DVD that the Disney Corporation would prefer you not see,

Oh right, they keep trying to make it less and less racist.

I don’t think they are trying to make it less and less racist. I don’t think they are altering the film every year. I don’t think can make it less racist. I think it just is racist and they buried in the Disney vault.

But you dressed up as Brer Bear.

Yes. It was probably the worst job I ever had, but I also worked at Knottsberry Farm in security. They don’t have costumed characters at Knottsberry Farm. I worked security there during the Halloween years and we had a system there where my friend, who was a really good-looking, hunky guy, a really popular guy in high school – he was the lead singer in my band – he worked in one of the mazes as a monster. If he ever saw two good-looking girls, he would jump into their car, take off his mask, show that he was handsome and talk to them and ask them out on a date. He would tell them to go give their number to his friend who was working security outside. I would constantly be working security and girls would come up to me and say, ‘Give my number to Dave!’ So we were going on one of these dates once. It was Dave, these two girls and me and we chatted for a while and we said, ‘Okay let’s go!’ and we got up to go and the girls said to me, ‘Oh you’re coming too?’

Ouch. That must have stuck with you for awhile.

Well, yes, when you asked me for an awkward moment, that was the first thing that popped into my mind. I probably have 30 or 40 other ones.

Is there anything that you can tell us about season two?

I think people can look forward to a beginning and then several episodes shall occur and then there will be an end. But it really will be bigger than what we did last year. It’s more ambitious. The guest stars are incredible. I had my dream guest on the show and I think people are going to be really excited to see that one. I think the writers this year were at the top of their game and came up with really funny sketches. I’m just really proud of the show and the way it’s grown.

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

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

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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