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Three Best Friends

10 Things You May Not Know About The Lonely Island

Catch The Lonely Island tonight at 11:30P on Comedy Bang! Bang!.

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Comedy trio The Lonely Island, aka Jorma Taccone, Akiva Schaffer, and Andy Samberg, have really hit their stride in the last few years. Direct a feature, drop an album, star on a hit sitcom — there isn’t much these talented guys can’t do. With the boys stopping by Comedy Bang! Bang! this week to promote their new comedy blockbuster PopStar: Never Stop Never Stopping, we thought it was high time to expose their darkest secrets. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any, so here are a few fun facts instead.

10. The Boys Met In Junior High.

Lonely Island
Universal Republic

The three members of The Lonely Island met back in the early ’90s, at Willard Junior High School in Berkeley, California. Akiva and Jorma became friends first, and eventually let Andy, a year younger, into their crew. The three bonded over their mutual love of skateboarding, before discovering comedy.


9. Chelsea Peretti was there too.

Something must have been in the water in 1990s Berkeley, because these weren’t the only three comedy heavyweights to come out of it. In fact, Andy knew future Brooklyn Nine-Nine costar Chelsea Peretti long before he’d met his Lonely Island cohorts. The two went to elementary school together, and Chelsea has admitted she had a huge crush on the homeroom heartthrob. She used to call his house over and over again, hanging up as soon as someone picked up.


8. Kiefer Sutherland once went all “24” on them.

In their early twenties, The Lonely Island boys all decamped to Los Angeles, where they started making short comedy videos for fun. One of these shorts — a video called “White Power” in which the boys get addicted to tooth whitening paste — almost came off the rails thanks to a certain TV super spy. While shooting a staged fight on the side of the road, a passerby hopped out of his car and tried to break up the fisticuffs. That stranger turned out to be Jack Bauer himself, Kiefer Sutherland.


7. They can thank Dan Harmon for their first viral success.

While the boys were making videos together in the early ’00s, they didn’t have much of an audience. The Internet was still more of an information superhighway than a hub of cat videos and low rent comedy skits. Thankfully, future Community impresario Dan Harmon had just founded a short film festival, which would evolve to become the now famous Channel 101. Each week, aspiring filmmakers could show their shorts, and if the audience liked them, they would vote for another installment to be made. The boys hit it big with their second series, a Malibu-set parody of The O.C. called The ‘Bu, which would eventually help them secure representation.


6. Akiva directed a video for Wilmer Valderrama.

Of the three members of The Lonely Island, Akiva Schaffer operates the most behind the scenes. A frequent director of the boys’ work, he’s also branched out to helm a variety of other projects, like the big budget comedy The Watch. He also directed a number of music videos for bands like We Are Scientists and Eagles of Death Metal, and, yes, even one for That ’70s Show alum Wilmer Valderrama and his musical persona Eduardo Fresco.


5. They made an “awesome” pilot before landing on SNL.

The boys had their ups and downs before making their way to Saturday Night Live. Big breaks came and went, including their first real shot at stardom. Having made a name for themselves with their online shorts, they were hired to shoot a pilot called Awesometown. A surreal mix of the music spoofs and anti-comedy that would come to define their style, the pilot was genuinely funny, but went nowhere. In fact, Fox, MTV and Comedy Central all passed on it, leading the boys to question whether their style could translate to a larger audience.


4. They owe Jimmy Fallon big time.

Jimmy Fallon
MTV

It would take Jimmy Fallon to introduce them to the big time. With their pilot going nowhere, the LI guys were hired to write jokes for the future Tonight Show host, who was hosting the 2005 MTV Movie Awards. Impressed with their comedy chops, he recommended them to SNL guru Lorne Michaels. The boys auditioned soon afterwards, with Samberg impersonating a 1980s jogger commenting on the recession. (He later did the character on the show.) Andy was hired as a Featured Player, while Jorma and Akiva were brought on as writers for the 2005/06 seasons. The three struggled at first, getting only a couple sketches on the air. Both got them a little notice, but nothing compared to their next sketch, which would change their lives, the show and the Internet forever.


3. They saved YouTube.

In 2005, “Lazy Sunday,” The Lonely Island’s first SNL digital short, dropped like an atomic bomb and became an overnight sensation. T-shirts were made, radio stations started playing the now hit song, and a fledging website called YouTube became THE place for people to check it out. NBC, not yet understanding the power of the Internet, fought like hell to keep the sketch off the site, but not before the world realized what a viral video was. YouTube would soon become a billion dollar company and The Lonely Island would become superstars.


2. Jorma’s brother is a rock star.

Jorma Taccone has built quite a career outside of The Lonely Island, co-writing MacGruber and guest starring on shows like The League, Parks and Recreation and Girls. But he’s not the only talent in the family. His brother, Asa Taccone, is the lead singer of the indie rock band Electric Guest. The band has made appearances on Late Show with David LettermanLate Night with Jimmy Fallon and Conan, and made MTV’s list of Artists to Watch in 2012.


1. Adam Sandler showed up to Andy’s wedding in character.

Adam Sandler
Sony Pictures

Not many people saw Andy Samberg’s comedy collaboration with Adam Sandler, That’s My Boy, and even fewer actually enjoyed the thing. Still, the flop may have been worth it for this one anecdote. It seems Andy Samberg invited his costar to his 2013 wedding, not expecting the movie bigwig to actually make it. So you can imagine his surprise when Sandler showed up to the rehearsal dinner as his That’s My Boy character, yelling things like “Oh, am I f*cking embarrassing you, buddy?” We’re guessing Andy’s soon to be wife, indie folk singer Joanna Newsom, probably answered “yes.”

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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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GIFs via Giphy

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.