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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?

Jinx
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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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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GIFs via Giphy

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.

via GIPHY

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!

via GIPHY

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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