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“Whisker Wars”: Don’t Mess With Texas

“Whisker Wars”: Don’t Mess With Texas (photo)

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The Texas National Beard Championships is one of the last stops before the big competition in Norway. So, obviously everyone is going. This year is a bit different, though, because Austin Facial Hair Club ringers Bryan Nelson and Allen Demling have opted to judge this year’s competition instead of compete. Also, Beard Team USA captain Phil Olsen and reigning national champion Arnie Bielefeldt and two-time world champion Jack Passion are all flying in to compete. But since they are in Texas, the first stop is barbecue. Which, by the way, has got to be one of the hardest things to eat with a full beard and mustache. Choices, gentlemen! Next time have your welcome feast at a bite-sized tapas restaurant or something. Jack is not exactly thrilled to have his rivals Bryan and Allen judging the competition. He’s also not excited to have living beard legend Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top show up as the surprise guest judge. While Jack loves Billy, apparently Phil Olsen has made some remarks that Jack’s beard is better than Billy’s and Jack is concerned about reprisal. See the clip below for proof of this.

Speaking of Phil, he is starting to get concerned about the unity of Beard Team USA. Especially after Bryan publicly stated that Texas is considering seceding from the union. I didn’t know they were Civil War reenactors?! Maybe they were watching “The Civil War on Drugs” and got inspired. Anyway, Phil decides that the only way to keep the team together is to arrange a sit down between Jack Passion and the Austin Facial Hair Club. At the sit down, certain members of the Austin Facial Hair Club seem shocked that Jack would be offended that they booed him on stage …or that they are impersonating him on Twitter with some dark jokes. But most of Austin’s anger and unhappiness is directed at Phil Olsen. They don’t like the way he is running Beard Team USA and they aren’t too shy to tell him. Ultimately nothing was resolved in the meeting, but it’s always nice to see bearded men drinking beer in broad daylight. Then tragedy struck: Alex LaRoche’s beard started to sag. Back to the Aquanet salon with you, Alex!

During the competition’s kick off parade down Austin’s main drag, Phil Olsen takes a moment to try and explain why he feels comfortable making a profit off of his efforts on behalf of Beard Team USA: His work, his idea, his profits. Or, in the immortal words of the cast of “Seinfeld”: yadda yadda yadda. Don’t think he’s going to be convincing the Austin boys any time soon. The competition finally starts with guest judge Billy Gibbons arriving to a packed and excited house decorated with a giant sign that says, “DON’T SHAVE,” in case you had any doubt. After Billy gets his trophy for just being generally awesome with a really big beard, the real competition gets under way. As with most competitions, the freestyle beard and full beard natural are the hottest categories. However in Austin, they prefer to call “full beard natural” by its proper name “Gnarliest Beard,” which is quite apt. They also like to count the character and spirit of the beard, not just length and …er, girth. Brooklyn’s Myk O’Connor hopes this will play to his beard’s strengths and he can dominate in the category. Jack, on the other hand, is more than a bit nervous to walk out on stage, what with Austin being the land of anti-Jack Passion rallies. Plus, Jack faces some stiff competition from Brian Redbeard who came from Washington, D.C. and, of course, reigning champ, Aarne Bielefeldt. When Jack is introduced, he tries to score some points by complimenting the competition as the best in the land, which the crowd eats up. Then the judges start their mulling. They come to their decisions quickly, except for one category: Gnarliest Beard. Billy Gibbons seems to be Team Jack, but will Austin’s Bryan and Allen let Jack take the crown? Alex LaRoche takes first in Freestyle, putting him in a good position for the global competition. Then the Gnarliest Beard finalists are announced: Brian Redbeard, Jack Passion, and Aarne Bielefeldt. Once again, Myk did not make the cut. Brian takes third and after a long drumroll, Jack takes second place next to Aarne’s gnarliest beard in the land. Then Aarne, who is no spring chicken, went stage diving, drank beer out of the winning chalice, and drenched his beard in beer. He’s a winner! Jack takes the loss well-ish, but what he doesn’t know is that with the judges deadlocked, the judgment was made based on the roll of a dice. That’s right, fate, luck, or loaded dice chose Aarne to win the competition.

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New episodes of “Whisker Wars” air on IFC on Fridays at 11 p.m. ET

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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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

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