DID YOU READ

The People’s Portlandia

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File this under totally inevitable: a group of students in Portland State University’s Social Practice program have undertaken a project, called People’s Portlandia, that enlists Portland residents to make their own Portlandia-inspired skits. You see, in Portland, DIY culture is so deeply engrained that a television show spoofing our fair city is only the jumping-off point for folks to take comedy into their own hands (you’ve seen “The Dream of the Suburbs,” right?). After all, as we learned right here through our tales of The Most Portland Thing Ever, the comedy is endless, and it writes itself. Why stop with just Portlandia?

Of course, it’s more serious than that. It’s also testament to what makes Portland so great: people don’t passively accept culture. Instead, they actively engage with it, participating, building their own scenes and sometimes forcefully turning the conversation back on itself. Social Practice art, of which this is an example, is defined by its willing engagement in communities and its emphasis on democratizing the back-and-forth between those who make art and those who consume it. People’s Portlandia may not be as funny as Portlandia, but its spirit of enterprising self-awareness is exactly what makes the show&#8212and living in Portland&#8212so totally exciting. And hilarious.

The story of People’s Portlandia is intimately intertwined with Fred and Carrie, too. We caught up with the project’s creator, Nolan Calisch, to get the full story.

Portlandia: Tell me a little bit about your background & the inception of this project.
Nolan Calisch: I run an organic CSA farm outside of Portland, but I am also an artist with a background in film and photography. My first exposure to Portlandia was when they came to the farm to film the first episode of season one. Colin is actually one of our trusty laying hens. People’s Portlandia grew out of conversations with my friends. When the season first came out, I felt like a couldn’t go a day without hearing someone say “wow, that should be a Portlandia skit.” So, it was a really a “what if” scenario. I thought, what if set up a simple framework so all these people in Portland could actually create all these funny ideas and experiences they were having in their daily lives.

Portlandia: Off the bat, it seems as though People’s Portlandia is about “taking back” Portland. Do you feel like Portlandia misrepresents Portland?
Nolan Calisch: A lot of people have framed it this way, but for me, this was never really its intention. I respect Fred and Carrie’s creativity and I think of People’s Portlandia as an opportunity to expand and elaborate on what they started, which I think ultimately its a celebration of this wonderfully weird and idiosyncratic city.

Portlandia: You’re coming at this from a social practice standpoint. Can you explain how you see this project within the larger context of social practice work?
Nolan Calisch: Sure. A lot of social practice work takes place outside the art world and often this work is public and collaborative in nature. I guess People’s Portlandia has these characteristics. Personally, one reason I am interested in social practice is because its about expanding the possibilities of an art practice, its about saying art doesn’t have to be an elite or professional or solitary act, it can be a spirit, a way of being in the world. I see People’s Portlandia as encouraging this spirit.

Hot Bikini Beans from Jon Meyer on Vimeo.

Portlandia: Are there Portlandia sketches you feel hit the nail on the head?
Nolan Calisch: To be honest I have only seen a handful of episodes because I don’t own a TV. I have to say, from what I’ve seen, I enjoy the yuppie couple and I really think the costuming on the show is great.

Portlandia: What has the response to the project been like?
Nolan Calisch: The response has been good. Hundreds of people have told me very incredible skit ideas. Its just been a matter of convincing them to take the next step to make a video.

Portlandia: Have you communicated with anyone who works directly on the show?
Nolan Calisch: I met Fred and Carrie on the farm several years ago. We only spoke briefly and I remember the whole time they were very self conscious about their hair since they were both wearing wigs. They kept telling us, “you know this is not my real hair, we don’t usually look like this.” It was endearing.

Readers, season two of Portlandia is coming to an end. Don’t let the dream fade! It’s not too late to submit your own videos for the first People’s Portlandia screening, on March 29th at the Hollywood Theater. Submissions are due March 15th, and it’s totally free to enter.

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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