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WTF Harry Shearer

11 Things We Learned About Harry Shearer From His ‘WTF’ Episode

Harry Shearer

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Harry Shearer, best known for his work on The Simpsons, This is Spinal Tap, and Saturday Night Live, recently sat down with Marc Maron on the WTF Podcast to discuss his new series “Nixon’s the One,” now airing on YouTube.

He also managed to touch upon his early days in the business, his rocky relationships with fellow comedians, and his perfectionist nature. This episode was, in the immortal words of Mr. Burns, “excellent.”  Here are a few of the highlights.

11. John Belushi Once Tried to Force Him to Drink

You’re forgiven if you don’t remember Harry Shearer’s first stint on Saturday Night Live — he joined the show in 1979 but was initially kept out of the opening credits. Shearer later found out from Bill Murray that Lorne Michaels failed to inform the cast that he was hired as a writer/performer, and not just a writer, which caused some tension when everyone wondered why Shearer was writing roles for himself. The future This Is Spinal Tap star also recalls a time when the late John Belushi literally tried to force him to drink some booze.

Belushi


10. Dick Ebersol Was More Wide World of Sports Than SNL

After Lorne Michaels left SNL, Harry Shearer came back to the cast during the 1984-1985 “celebrity” season that included stars like Billy Crystal and Martin Short. According to Shearer, Dick Ebersol, who was running SNL at the time, once put $50 on a camera, and told cast members Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Mary Gross that the first one to flash him would get the reward. He says that Mr. Ebersol, coming from the world of broadcast sports, seemed to think this was funny.

NBC.com

NBC.com


9. He No Longer Speaks to Albert Brooks

Shearer has trouble accepting his reputation as being difficult, even though he admits to falling out with former friends and collaborators Albert Brooks and Michael McKean. For instance, he says the reason he and Albert no longer speak dates back to a disagreement about the movie Real Life, which they co-wrote. Harry was supposed to co-star, but Albert said he couldn’t picture him as anyone but himself. Harry was not pleased.


8. The Voice of Mr. Burns Was Once a Child Star

Prior to comedy, Shearer got his start as an actor at the age of 7, booking his first audition for The Jack Benny Program. He never planned to continue acting as a grown-up, instead hoping to teach, become a journalist or work in politics. He actually ended up doing all three on some level, including covering the Moon landing and the Watts Riots for Newsweek.

Bare Bones e-Zine

Bare Bones e-Zine


7. The Beach Boys Helped Him Avoid the Draft 

Harry escaped being drafted into the Vietnam War by hiring the Beach Boys’ lawyer, who had successfully gotten them out of serving as well.

Shalom Life

Shalom Life


6. He’s Got a Voice for Radio

In the late ’70s, Harry chose joining the cast of Saturday Night Live over becoming the first host of NPR’s Morning Edition in 1979. He would later work with the radio station, recording his long running “Le Show” at KCRW in Los Angeles.

Le Show


5. The Members of Spinal Tap (and Monty Python) Don’t Get Along

Even though we wish it weren’t true, Shearer confirmed that he isn’t exactly best pals with the rest of the Spinal Tap gang these days. Bursting our comedy bubble even further, Shearer revealed that the only reason Monty Python recently reunited is that they lost a lucrative lawsuit, and that they all secretly hate each other. He declined to speak further on it, but claimed two members told him this separately.

Spinal Tap 1

Spinal Tap 2


4. He appeared on one of the few hostless SNL episodes

When he returned to SNL during the 1984 season, Shearer tried to convince Dick Ebersol that the show didn’t need a guest host every week and could survive on the power of its cast. The first episode of the season was subsequently host free, and featured the classic Shearer/Christopher Guest/Martin Short sychronized swimming sketch. But a week later, guests hosts returned. Hey, it is SNL after all.

SNL Synchronized Swimming


3. He had some hilarious SNL parting words

Harry left Saturday Night Live for the second, and final time, in the winter of 1985. He told the AP that he left for creative differences. “I was creative, and they were different.”

Grantland/NBC

Grantland/NBC


2. He was a driving force behind The Simpsons‘ cast pay raise

Harry says that he is both overpaid and underpaid as a performer for The Simpsons. Overpaid, because it’s ridiculous how much money he makes for doing something he loves, but underpaid because of the amount of money parent company Fox makes off of it. He also helped the cast organize for their recent salary negotiations.


1. He learned upright bass from a rock legend

While Harry taught himself how to play bass, he says Jim Fielder from Blood, Sweat & Tears taught him how to play upright bass for “The Folksmen,” a Saturday Night Live sketch that would eventually evolve into the film A Mighty Wind.

Check out the episode on the WTF Podcast site to find out why Harry believes comedians get into comedy, how he met Albert Brooks, and what legendary Looney Tunes voice Mel Blanc once gave him.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

via GIPHY

Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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SistersWeekend_103_MPX-1920×1080

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…

IFC_Comedy-Crib_Sisters-Weekend-Series-Image

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.

SistersWeekend_101_MPX-1920x1080

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).

IFC_Comedy-Crib_Sisters-Weekend_About-Image

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.

SistersWeekend_102_MPX-1920x1080

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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