DID YOU READ

Let The Portlandia Activity Book Teach You How to Write an Online Review

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The upcoming Portlandia Activity Book is chock-full of good, old-fashioned, Wi-fi-independent fun by the combined publishing and television powers of McSweeney’s and the IFC sketch comedy show Portlandia. Read an excerpt below, and pre-order here.


ONLINE REVIEWS FOR THE FLEDGLING CRITIC

Critique is no longer an activity reserved for mothers and journalists. Today we’re all critics capable of turning our subjective experiences into incisive, factual data. The Internet is the critic’s playground, providing ample free space for brutal overshares and expository tales of health-code violations. As a critic on a quest to preserve truth, your writing skills will serve you more than all the other skills you list on your resumé. Here, we’ll concentrate on the various approaches to a successful online review.

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The Enthusiastic Self-Promoting Review
MY MOTHER’S KITCHEN
★★★★★

My mother’s the best and I love everything she makes. The meatloaf—amazing. The casserole—forget about it. And her Bundt cake! That’s the only thing that matters. It’s been three months since I graduated from college and I’m not sure about anything these days but when I’m alone with that Bundt cake and my childhood toys, I don’t need anything else. I don’t mean to sound like I’m doing marketing for my mother’s kitchen, but I can’t help it. And since I’m here, if anyone out there reading this is hiring, I would give up the Bundt cake for full-time or part-time employment.

The All About Me Review
STARDUST LOUNGE
★★★★✩
Last Tuesday I was doctor shopping when my big toe started to hurt (I figured it was trench foot). I was near the Stardust Lounge and wanted to check it out for a while (before WebMD diagnosed me with leptospirosis) so, I stopped in. I ordered some jalapeno poppers, thinking the Vitamin C and antioxidants might soothe my glandular phrenitis, which started to throb a little that afternoon. While I waited for my food to arrive, I got one of my migraines (my mom says it’s Epstein-Barr, but I’m not sure). In the end, the jalapeno poppers made my migraine disappear (however, I did get a weird rash that evening, though it might have been a mosquito’s concentrated attack on a three-inch area on my neck). No major developments on the trench foot so far.

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The Strictly Hypothetical Review
BILLY’S ORIGINAL BURGER JOINT
★★✩✩✩

I have not yet stepped foot into Billy’s Original Burger Joint but the walk-by vibe I got was, to put it nicely, less than welcoming. Assuming Billy is an actual person and not someone’s idea for making a crappy restaurant seem more personable, would it kill Billy to fix that awning? The g in Original seems to have peeled off. I’m not sure what exactly is original about that place. Is it the first joint in Billy’s hamburger franchise, or is it the joint itself that’s original—I’m not sure. I don’t have much time or patience for misplaced modifiers, and I’m not sure what that says about the integrity of the ground beef patties. Smelled delicious, though, and I will recommend it to friends.

The Wrong Website Review
SAFEWAY ★★★★✩

I saw you in the parking lot the other day. You were wearing all black, so it’s likely you’re goth. I couldn’t tell if it was, like, a laundry day type of thing or if you’re in mourning or if it was a lifestyle choice. Anyways, watching you unload groceries into your trunk, I couldn’t help but notice your canvas bags, which made me think we share a moral platform? I don’t know if you remember me, but you turned to me and said, “Can I help you? What are you staring at?” I’d love to get coffee with you sometime. Please message me if you’re interested.

Illustrations by Joana Avillez

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar

via GIPHY

IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

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IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”


Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”


But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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