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Portlandia at the South Pole!

Mikey-Pole

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Mikey Kampmann is a young comedian who, when he’s not making cameo appearances in Portlandia episodes (look for him in the park at Spike and Iris’ wedding!) was just about the funniest thing in town until he decided to go AWOL and work as a line cook at the Admundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica for four months. No joke. Still, true to the pioneering, DIY spirit of a true Northwesterner, Mikey has managed to bring Portland to the South Pole, with Oregon-roasted coffee, a hilarious blog, fresh local kale, and even fresher personal style. No small feat at the literal ends of the Earth.

We managed to catch up with him, despite the spotty Polar internet and 21-hour time difference, and chat about aliens, tunneling with Werner Herzog, and comedy on ice.

Portlandia: Get real with us about the Internet situation. Is it fast? Do you have wi-fi? Were you even able to watch Cool Wedding, the episode of Portlandia that you starred in last week?

Mikey Kampmann: We are in the Future at the South Pole, at least by 21 hours, but unfortunately in the Future the Internet is slow. We get Internet in waves depending on a few NASA satellites. One satellite is really slow and the others are faster, but still not fast enough to stream video with any dignity. So no, I haven’t seen any of the new Portlandia episodes and have only heard about the episode I was in last week, like from my local car insurance agent who emailed me to say he recognized me on the show. There is actually some really fast Internet here, but access is only given to Science research, which fair enough as they’re using it to map and understand the Universe at the beginning of time.

Portlandia: What percentage of the people you work with in Antarctica do you think are actually crazy?

Mikey Kampmann: This is a scary question. To be honest, I’ve had to ask myself this question a few times. The thing is we are incredibly isolated and the community is so small that it has become hard at this point to know who is for sure crazy. I think we’re all a little crazy, but not institutionally crazy. Wait, this is an institution though. Um, yeah, I’m not sure. No, nobody is like crazy crazy, but I did ask my friend what he thought and he said 65% including himself of course.

Mikey showing off the South Pole's own organically-grown local kale.

Portlandia: Have you done any comedy at the pole? Also, what is the Antarctican sense of humor like?

Mikey Kampmann: There have been two open mics at the South Pole since I’ve been here, but I haven’t had the energy to perform. I’ve sorta been using this time to take a break from comedy and instead simply focus on being present here during this remarkable time and within this formidable landscape. I have been writing down some jokes though. And I’ve made a few videos with comedy ideas, like Tunnelin’ with Werner Herzog. And I guess I’ve joked a lot about aliens on the blog. That has been my favorite part of the Antarctican sense of humor. My friend and I like to joke speculate about who amongst us here is really a Grey — the name we use for alien. But otherwise it’s a normal place with situational humor, except maybe the situations here are a little more unusual.

Portlandia: What on Earth possessed you to wrest yourself from the youth Utopia of Portland to go live in Antarctica?

Mikey Kampmann: It wasn’t easy. Portland is terribly seductive, which is why I love Portland. When I’m in Portland the rest of the world outside SE Portland doesn’t seem to matter and I’m surrounded by friends and cool shows. Honestly, four months has been a very long time to be away from the home I love, but I had thought about coming to Antarctica for over 3 years and I realized that if I didn’t do it now then I never would. I guess in the end I didn’t want to miss out on coming to the South Pole because I was worried about missing a cool show. And the best part was my friends were incredibly supportive and seemed excited for me. And now, in a way the time has gone by really fast and I feel like I’m returning to Portland with more to offer.

Mikey trading Portland-roasted Legare's coffee for a bottle of vodka and a pistol with "a Russian" at the South Pole.

Portlandia: What’s the first thing you’re going to do when you get back to Portland?

Mikey Kampmann: Definitely a hard question, so many choices. I’ve sorta made a tradition of going to DC Vegetarian food cart to get a vegan bacon cheeseburger every time I come home to Portland. I’m not even vegan. And then after that, I think the first thing I’ll do is go to Clinton St. Theater to hang out with Sloppo and go get a drink next door at the pub.

You can follow Mikey’s adventures in the Antarctic on his blog, Mikey Going Down.

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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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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.

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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!

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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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