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Revenge of the Seth

Revenge of the Seth (photo)

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Seth Rogen was a stand-up comedian by age 12, a screenwriter by age 13. A few years later, he auditioned for a role on a TV series called “Freaks and Geeks.” That audition, available on the show’s DVD box set and on YouTube, is 82 seconds of excruciating awkwardness: Rogen, visibly nervous, doesn’t know where to look or put his jittery hands. Based on the footage, it’s remarkable that Rogen got the part, and more remarkable still that less than a decade later, that uncomfortable teenager would become arguably the biggest comedy star in Hollywood. By now, Rogen has made not looking the part into an entire comedic persona.

On “Freaks and Geeks,” Rogen played Ken Miller who, for most of the show’s 18 episode run, was the least explored central character. He was primarily used as comic relief, and he quickly proved a dependable presence as the quick-witted deliverer of snarky putdowns. His one chance to show off more emotional range came only after the show had already been canceled and relegated to basic cable. In the series’ second-to-last episode, “The Little Things,” Ken learns that his girlfriend Amy was born with ambiguous genitalia and has to figure out what that means about his sexuality and his feelings for her.

Most of the “freak” side of the “Freaks and Geeks” cast didn’t cut their hair during the show’s run; by episode 17, Rogen had a full-on Jewfro and matching set of muttonchops. That, coupled with the character’s inherently apathetic attitude, made him an unconventional candidate for a tortured romantic dilemma. But that very improbability made the drama all the more compelling, and the couple’s eventual reconciliation all the sweeter. Watching Ken grapple with his predicament made us reevaluate our preconceived notions of his character, and his tender reunion with Amy at the episode’s climax stands as one of the series’ sweetest, happiest moments, even as Rogen leavens the melodrama by smacking his head on his lady’s tuba during their triumphant embrace.

With his curly locks, pudgy features and Jewish-Canadian background, Rogen made for an unusual romantic hero on network television, and this incongruity between appearance and action has been at the core of all of Rogen’s major performances since. It isn’t simply that his looks make him an unlikely leading man: it’s that unlikeliness, as a husband, or a cop, or a father, or a porn star, is written right into each and every one of his roles. As a movie star, Rogen’s characters never fit in and are always butting up against imperfection. Even self-improvement leads to further problems. In his latest film, “Funny People,” Rogen’s weight loss means that now he doesn’t even look the part of comedian. “You shouldn’t have lost all that weight, man.” Jonah Hill’s character says to Rogen’s. “There’s nothing funny about a physically fit man. No one wants to watch Lance Armstrong do comedy.”

Judd Apatow, writer and director of “Funny People,” recognized Rogen’s potential back when he was executive producer of “Freaks and Geeks.” He realized the actor’s unique mixture of slob and sweetie made him a perfect onscreen surrogate for his comedic persona. He’d hoped to make him the star of his follow-up series “Undeclared,” but that idea was nixed by the network. Instead, Rogen was again relegated to supporting performer and member of the writing staff. For Apatow’s first feature, “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” he stole scenes from star Steve Carell, and his largely improvised “Do you know how I know you’re gay?” run with Paul Rudd became one of the film’s highlights.

Apatow finally got Rogen front and center for his follow-up film, “Knocked Up,” where the actor plays Ben, an unemployed web designer who lives in a stoner paradise with his buddies. Ben doesn’t seem like ideal father material: he spends all day smoking weed and pretending to work on a website devoted to cataloging all the moments in films where the stars appear naked. A one-night-stand with an entertainment journalist (Katherine Heigl) leads to an unwanted pregnancy, which forces Ben into a moment of self-assessment similar to Ken’s dilemma on “Freaks and Geeks.” The question becomes: what sort of man am I? Eventually, Ben eases up on the getting high, finds a real job in IT, reads a couple baby books and learns, like Ken, to stop being stupid (i.e., like a guy) and to grow up.

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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.


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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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: 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.


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: 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.


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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