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DID YOU READ

The 11 Best (and Worst) Actors Who Moonlight as Rock Stars

Tenacious D

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There comes a time for all of us when the world makes us grow up. We aren’t going to make the NBA with our one-inch vertical. Our garage band probably isn’t going to open for Bon Jovi, unless we learn what a C chord is. But for Hollywood superstars, no one ever says no. Just look at Keanu Reeves, whose band Dogstar did just that, performing as the opening act for the “Wanted Dead or Alive” rockers on their 1995 World Tour. Join us below for a look at a few actors’ musical projects, and help us determine which are legit, and which get by on a big name and an even bigger ego.

11. Worst: Corey Feldman, Corey Feldman’s Truth Movement

Oh boy. It’s hard to criticize a band when it’s clearly the result of some disturbing childhood traumas. Lord knows what made Mr. Feldman want to become a second rate Michael Jackson impersonator, vamping his way through a rental house in the Valley, with ads for an off-brand energy drink hanging in the background. Whatever it is, we wish him luck in his recovery so we never have to see anything like this again.


10. Best: Zoey Deschanel, She & Him

Love her or hate her, Zoey Deschanel is much more than her adorkable persona suggests. Singer-songwriter M. Ward met Deschanel on the set of The Go-Getter, and quickly discovered a kindred spirit. Deschanel admitted she loved to write music, but was embarrassed to share it because of her acting career. He encouraged her to do just that, and She & Him, a charming band that combines elements of indie pop, doo-wop and R&B, was born.


9. Worst: Jim Belushi, The New Blues Brothers

On a certain level, you’ve got to respect the hustle. I mean, a brother’s got to work. But aren’t we all a little uncomfortable that Jim Belushi has basically become a professional impersonator of his late, great brother? Sure, it looks like he’s having fun up there, but doesn’t he have enough According to Jim checks in the bank to just front his own band and not tarnish John’s legacy?


8. Worst: Bruce Willis and the Accelerators

Hey, if you were drunk in a South Jersey bar at one in the morning, maybe this is the type of music you’d want to hear. But this band, which is made up of one superstar, and a group of studio musicians who like money, goes on nationwide tours and headlines Netflix concerts. If there isn’t a dartboard within five feet of Bruce’s hip shaking harmonica moves, something is very wrong.


7. Best: Maya Rudolph, The Rentals

The Rentals is a rock band fronted by Weezer bassist Matt Sharp. It’s had a revolving door of musicians over the years, but one of the most popular was Maya Rudolph, who played keyboard and sang backing vocals on tour with the band before she broke out on Saturday Night Live. Since then, we’ve all gotten a taste of her powerhouse talents, but it just goes to show you, this was no vanity project. She’s the real deal.


6. Worst: Johnny Depp, The Hollywood Vampires

Before Johnny Depp put on pancake makeup and turned into a living pile of scarves, he was a musician in bands The Kids and Rock City Angels. 21 Jump Street would change that, to the point that he complained earlier this year about actors moonlighting in bands, saying it “made [him] sick.” He then immediately went and formed a new band, the aptly named Hollywood Vampires, with Alice Cooper and Aerosmith’s Joe Perry.

5. Best: Donald Glover, Childish Gambino

Few would have thought that Troy from Community would become one of the most interesting rappers working today. While many of us with too much time on our hands may have plugged our names into an online Wu-Tang rap name generator, Donald somehow turned his results into a flourishing career in hip hop. Somehow, in a few short years, he’s written for 30 Rock, starred on Community, had his own Comedy Central stand-up special, and been the focus of an online campaign to make him the next Spider-Man. But his rap career has increasingly become the thing he’s known for, and with good reason. Renaissance man, meet the Internet.


4. Worst: Billy Bob Thornton, The Boxmasters

Oh Billy, maybe just lighten up a bit, and you’d be left alone to play your rockabilly music in peace. The actor, who can most recently be seen blowing the lid off the joint on FX’s Fargo, is clearly passionate about his band. Maybe a little too passionate. When an interviewer deigned to ask him about his acting career, and not his tour with Willie Nelson, Thornton shut down, but not before insulting his Canadian audience, calling them “mashed potatoes without gravy.” The band ended up canceling shows rather than being booed off the stage.


3. Best: Steve Martin, Steep Canyon Rangers

Steve Martin first burst onto the American comedy scene with a banjo in his hand and an arrow through his head. The arrow was long ago retired, but the banjo has become a prominent part of his life. No longer in the service of a laugh, Martin is a two-time Grammy winner, and even set up the “Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass,” an award established to reward artistry and bring greater visibility to bluegrass performers.


2. Worst: Russell Crowe, 30 Odd Foot of Grunts

Another misfire, at least in terms of the music. If Russell Crowe wants to throw back a few pints and belt out a song with some friends, then more power to him. But if he stuck to karaoke night at the local pub, we might all be better off for it. (It might’ve spared us his tone deaf turn in Les Miserables.)


1. Best: Jack Black, Tenacious D

Jack Black’s whole identity is tied up in his comedy/rock band Tenacious D,  which he rocks out in with his band mate Kyle Gass. The two made their names by rocking as hard as any metal band ever, while also managing to make us laugh. It’s no easy feat. The band has fronted its own TV show, its own music and comedy festival, and its own movie. They even won a Grammy for Best Metal Performance at the 2015 Grammys which puts them in the same category as such luminaries as Metallica and Jethro Tull.


On the Fence: Jared Leto, Thirty Seconds to Mars

Despite their critics, there are many people (particularly 12-year-old girls wearing too much eyeliner) who legitimately love this band. You have to admit, what probably started out as a vanity project has become the real thing. Hit records. Sold out tours. They were so successful, Mr. Leto seems to have forgotten he was an actor for a few years there until Dallas Buyers Club brought him back to the big screen. We’ll call this band a Rorschach test. Good or bad is in the eye of the beholder.

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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.