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What's Up, Doc?

10 Documentary Now! Facts From Fred Armisen, Seth Meyers and Bill Hader

Watch the full panel and get a sneak peek of season two.

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Production is well underway for the second season of Documentary Now!, and fans are clamoring for more episodes of the acclaimed show.

But while we wait for the next season to premiere, we do have some extra Doc Now! content to share. Co-creators Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, and Seth Meyers assembled for a live “For Your Consideration” event for Emmy voters where they offered a behind-the-scenes look at the series.

Check out the full video of the event below as well as 10 things we learned from the Documentary Now! live panel.

1. Why haven’t they done The Jinx or Making a Murderer?

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HBO

Seth mentioned how they’re often approached by folks wondering if Doc Now! had planned on tackling HBO documentary series The Jinx or Netflix’s Making a Murderer. As he explains, those longer series that trace an entire crime case would be tough to capture in one episode. “It’s hard enough boiling down a two-hour documentary to 20 minutes,” Seth said.


2. “Host” Helen Mirren immediately got the joke and played her part straight.

Helen Mirren

At the top of each episode, host Dame Helen Mirren sets the tone for the dramatic, real-life stories about to unfold. Of course, the pure silliness that results is perfectly juxtaposed by the gravitas that Ms. Mirren brings to the table — something she immediately understood. Bill and Seth remarked that it’s rare for an actor to approach a comedy scene without wanting to add zaniness. But Helen had the “perfect tone,” according to Bill and Seth, right from the start.


3. Bill’s fall through the floor in “Sandy Passage” was improvised practically on the spot.

Lima Beans

While shooting Little Vivvy’s tour of the mansion, Bill thought it’d be funny if his character fell through the floor and the directors agreed. And what would seem like a stunt with lengthy prep time was achieved with Bill’s pratfall and some spliced takes. As Seth remarked, the hardest part about the shot was Bill’s overzealous impression of suffering a concussion — an act he had to tone down because even the boom mic guy couldn’t stop laughing.


4. The directors got the actual camera lenses from “The Thin Blue Line” (and by coincidence, the same courtroom artist).

Eye Doesn't Lie

Fred, Bill, and Seth were effusive with their praise for Doc Now! directors Rhys Thomas and Alexander Buono and their incredible job at mimicking the style of multiple documentaries. Turns out, the directing duo’s hardcore dedication to their craft led them to use the actual camera lenses from Grey Gardens and The Thin Blue Line to achieve a more authentic style for “Sandy Passage” and “The Eye Doesn’t Lie.” And during the latter’s production, the courtroom artist they acquired coincidentally was the same artist from The Thin Blue Line. After praising his artistic skills in replicating the original’s look, Bill said the artist replied, “Y’know I did this on Thin Blue Line?”


5. Raccoons are terrible to work with.

Raccoons Little Vivvy

For the wildlife-infested abode in “Sandy Passage,” animal wranglers brought in a raccoon, which proved to be more problematic than you’d expect. Cast and crew had to wait for the right moment until the raccoon was “ready” to perform. However, Seth said one of his favorite moments of the shoot was the email he received which read, “How important is the raccoon? Because a raccoon isn’t cheap. Would you be okay with a possum?”


6. Filming Season 2 has been treacherous.

Dronez Guns

Fred went down to Columbia to film “Juan Loves Rice and Chicken,” Documentary Now!‘s upcoming take on the acclaimed “foodie” doc Jiro Dreams of Sushi. After filming on top of a mountain, Fred and another member of the crew were driven down a windy road by a particularly sleepy driver. As if that wasn’t scary enough, Fred said the show’s art director was bitten by a scorpion! Never let it be said that the Doc Now! cast and crew isn’t dedicated to their jobs.


7. Bill Hader’s President of Hollywood character inspired a Season Two episode.

One of the documentaries being spoofed for season two is The Kid Stays in the Picture, which recounts the ups-and-downs of legendary Godfather producer Robert Evans. In addition to Evans, Hader explained that his “President of Hollywood” character (a memorable presence at the recent Comedy Central Roast of James Franco) was also an inspiration for the aging producer he plays in season two’s Hollywood doc “Mr. Runner Up.” 


8. The head of Vice loves the Dronez episode.

Dronez NY Times

According to the gang, Vice co-founder Shane Smith was totally on board with the show’s parody of his Millennial-targeting news organization. Fred also noted that it was difficult for the directors to get the “on the fly” look of Vice news documentaries.


9. The Blue Jean Committee is based in part on The Eagles.

Blue Jean Committee

Fred, Seth, and Bill expressed their love for the 2013 History of the Eagles documentary, an in-depth look at the California rock band that Hader described as being about “tough guys playing p—y music.” Bill and Seth noted that the Blue Jean Committee episode was a way for Fred to write some original music, which he will also do for a season two episode. And sorry to break it to you, but that isn’t Hader hitting the high falsetto notes: Bill’s pipes were provided by musician and violinist Petra Haden.


10. They’d like to do sports documentaries, but they’re a challenge.

30 for 30
ESPN Go

Seth said they have been asked if the show would ever parody sports docs, but he noted that the team likes to focus on smaller, slice-of-life stories and capturing a sporting event with hundreds of fans could prove difficult.

Watch the full Documentary Now! panel below to hear Bill and Fred doing an impression of Obama visiting LA, the group’s thoughts on the season two episode “Globesmen” and much more! 

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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.