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Spirit of '92

The Funniest Political Moments of 1992

Documentary Now! exposes the political drama of 1992 with "The Bunker" premiering September 14th at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Saturday Night Live/NBC Universal/Hulu

For those of us lacking the courage to do the math in our heads, it’s been 24 years since the 1992 U.S. presidential election — one whose biggest scandal could very well be whether or not a candidate inhaled marijuana smoke. (Simpler times, then.) But that doesn’t mean the political stage was wanting for laughs.

With “The Bunker” — which kicks off Documentary Now!‘s new season —  offering a no-holds-barred look at the 1992 Ohio governor race, we thought it was worth looking back at some of the craziest political moments that happened during this gamechanging year. Take a look below, and get a sneak peek of “The Bunker” before its premiere on September 14th at 10P on IFC.

1. George Bush Sr. Ruins a Japanese State Dinner

Be it bad seafood or motion sickness from over-bowing, former president George H. W. Bush didn’t begin the year with a strong constitution. On January 8th, 1992, our esteemed Commander-in-Chief became ill at a banquet in the home of Japan’s prime minister and vomited onto the lap of a foreign dignitary — triggering a flood of late-night comedy jokes that wrote themselves.


2. Kid Says “Potato,” Dan Quayle Says “Potatoe”

Also known as The Forehead Slap Heard ‘Round the World, Dan Quayle capped off his four-year facepalm as vice president with a gaffe that a 12-year-old was too smart to make. Then a heartbeat away from the second most important job in the world, Quayle tried to correct a Trenton middle-schooler on the correct way to spell potato (“Potatoe,” apparently), forcing the child at his behest to add a superfluous E — a mistake that made Bart’s opening blackboard gag on the at-the-time new and groundbreaking animated series The Simpsons.


3. The Simpsons’ Rebuttal to Bush Remarks

Speaking of the Springfieldians, the Simpsons were the target of derision from George and Barb during their first few years on the air. The First Lady remarked in a 1990 interview that she thought the show was “the dumbest thing [she] had ever seen,” and then two years later, George double-downed by saying he aims to “make American families a lot more like the Waltons and a lot less like the Simpsons.” In perfect prime-Simpsons form, the family replied to the speech with a newly edited intro to a rerun wherein Bart shot back, “Hey, we’re just like the Waltons. We’re praying for an end to the Depression, too.” 24 years later, everyone’s favorite yellow family is still taking potshots at political blowhards.


4. Bill Clinton Rallies Arsenio Hall’s Dog Pound

In what today would be the equivalent of Martin O’Malley having a rap-off with Jimmy Fallon, Bill Clinton secured the youth vote by busting out his sax and playing a presentable version of “Heartbreak Hotel” on The Arsenio Hall Show. Donned in the smoothest of Ray-Bans, the Democratic candidate reached heights of cool that carried him through the pre-LewinskyGate ’90s.


5. Admiral Stockdale’s Awkward Debate Performance

In 1992, plucky billionaire Ross Perot delighted Americans with his folksy aphorisms and primetime paid programming infomercials. But his on-again-off-again presidential hopes took a hit when his running mate Admiral James Stockdale stumbled his way through the first vice presidential debate. Long, confused silences and hearing aid fiddling drew questions on electability and inspired one of the best SNL sketches — with Dana Carvey doing his hilarious Perot impression and Phil Hartman as Stockdale — during that election cycle.


6. Clinton Asserts He “Didn’t Inhale”

During his campaign, standing in stark contrast to his devil-may-care saxophoning, Clinton emphatically claimed that he only smoked marijuana once in England, didn’t inhale, and never tried it again. (Note: 1992 was a time when the U.S. presidency hinged on that sort of thing.) It quickly became shorthand for a flimsy excuse and parodies popped up in SNL, In Living Color, and the 1994 David Spade/Jeremy Piven college comedy PCU.


7. Dan Quayle vs. Murphy Brown

Say what you will about the Bush administration, they really had it in for fictional characters. In this particular instance, Vice President Quayle chided fictional newsperson Murphy Brown (Candice Bergen) for having a make-believe child out of imaginary wedlock. Quoth the prophet Quayle while discussing family values: “It doesn’t help matters when primetime TV has Murphy Brown, a character who supposedly epitomizes today’s intelligent, highly paid professional woman, mocking the importance of fathers by bearing a child alone and calling it just another lifestyle choice.” And as with everything he did in 1992, Quayle was crushed by newly minted Tonight Show host Jay Leno and CBS’ hot new Late Show jokester David Letterman, whose watercooler-worthy barbs made them the Twitter pundits of their day. Even Quayle’s local TV promo (watch it above) couldn’t help his case!


8. Bush’s Supermarket Scanner Incident

Despite a post-First Iraq war bump (remember Operation Desert Shield/Storm?), Bush’s approval ratings hit the gutter in 1992 as the economy floundered, the job market gasped for air, and the middle class continued to shrink. Allegations that Bush and his administration were woefully out of touch with the American public surged after a video showed Bush “amazed” by a supermarket checkout scanner. Whether he was indeed flabbergasted by common Main Street USA technology or merely impressed by new improvements to the scanning system, Bush never shook the reputation of being a privileged, uncaring elite.


9. The Bush-Clinton-Perot Debates

President Bush didn’t fare well under the piercing stare of an angry electorate, initially dodging the presidential debates then looking weak and aloof while in them. Juxtaposed to Bush were the calm Clinton and angry sprite Perot — three personalities that could perfectly serve as a cold opening to Saturday Night Live. In the clip above, Carvey pulls double-duty as Bush and Perot, while Hartman brings his “goofy ol’ country boy Clinton” A-game.


10. Bill Clinton Visits McDonald’s

After Clinton’s decisive win, Phil Hartman slipped into what would become one of the comedic great’s most famous impressions like a pair of easy-fit sweats. And showcasing the president-elect’s swagger in his new role, the SNL star performed his most memorable sketch as the Commander-in-Chief on December 5th, 1992. (It’s also one of the few times Phil actually broke character during a sketch.)

Watch MTV’s Tabitha Soren covering the heated ’92 Ohio Governor election below. To see who wins, catch the season premiere of Documentary Now! September 14th at 10P on IFC.

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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.