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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
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.
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.
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.
Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer
Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…
IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.
IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!
IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?
Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.
IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?
Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.
IFC: How would you describe Ivy?
Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.
IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?
Jenny: Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.
IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?
Jenny: How do you know they don’t?
IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?
Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”
IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?
Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.
See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.
Stan Diego Comic-Con
Another Comic-Con International is in the can, and multiple nerdgasms were had by all – not least of which were about the Stan Against Evil roundtable discussion. Dana, Janet and John dropped a whole lotta information on what’s to come in Season 2 and what it’s like to get covered in buckets of demon goo. Here are the highlights.
That's a wrap! 2:28 AM in a muddy in cemetery in GA a superlative cast & crew wrapped season 2 of Stan Against Evil. Thanks all!!! pic.twitter.com/HAFsJUl4AI
Season 2 hits the air November 1 and picks up right where things left off. Consider this your chance to seamlessly continue your Halloween binge.
Most people know that Evie was written especially for Janet, but did you know that Stan is based on Dana Gould’s dad? It’s true. But that’s where the homage ends, because McGinley was taken off the leash to really build a unique character.
Improv is apparently everything, because according to Gould the funniest material happens on the fly. We bet the writers are totally cool with it.
If Stan fans are also into Twin Peaks and Doctor Who, that’s no accident. Both of those cult classic genre benders were front of mind when Stan was being developed.
Yep. A new trailer dropped. Feast your eyes.
Catch up on Stan Against Evil’s first season on the IFC app before it returns November 1st on IFC.
“Weird Al” Shares the Stories Behind “Eat It,” “Word Crimes” and More Hit Songs
With a career spanning five decades and one that encompasses music, film, television, live shows, and the occasional podcast, “Weird Al” Yankovic has the very definition of a storied history. The performer has 14 albums under his belt — four of which went gold, six went platinum — and has amassed four Grammy Awards and several generations of diehard fans. We were curious about some of the stories “Weird Al” had behind a few of his hit singles, so we asked for a tiny glimpse at the making of these beloved tunes.
In celebration of his triumphant first season as Comedy Bang! Bang!‘s new bandleader, here’s the story behind five “Weird Al” songs as told by the singer himself. (Click here to read Al’s thoughts on joining Comedy Bang! Bang!, his new tour and more.)
1. “My Bologna”
Weird Al: I did [“My Bologna”] when I was 19 years old. I was going into my senior year in college at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. I was doing a summer shift at the college campus radio station, and The Knack was huge that summer — “My Sharona” being by far the most requested song at the radio station. And I just had the most obvious, stupid idea for a parody: “My Bologna.” So I brought my accordion into the bathroom across the hall because the tiled walls gave off a nice reverb sound. And I recorded “My Bologna,” sent it to Dr. Demento, and he played it on his radio show in Los Angeles where it became a hit. In fact, I got a postcard from him saying “My Bologna” was number one on the “Funny Five” for two weeks in a row. And I couldn’t believe it. [Laughs] I thought to myself, “Well, it’s never gonna get any better than this.”
IFC: Did you shoot a music video for “My Bologna”?
Weird Al: Well, it’d be generous to call it a music video. A friend of mine Randy Kerdoon, who was also a DJ at the radio station, had to do a video as part of his senior project. We shot it at a nearby community college, and it was a no-budget shoot. It was me pretending to play the accordion and singing. But it was recorded! It exists! [Laughs] And it wound up being an Easter egg on one of my DVDs.
2. “Eat It”
Weird Al: “Eat It” was my first really big hit. I had a couple minor hits before then, “Another One Rides the Bus” and “Ricky,” but “Eat It” kinda turned me into a household name as a known character, I guess. Before that, nobody would’ve recognized me on the street. But after I did “Eat It,” it went into heavy rotation on MTV and got played six times a day. I became a literal overnight celebrity, and all of a sudden, my anonymity was gone. I’d be in line at a fast food restaurant and somebody would say, “Hey! There’s the ‘Eat It’ Guy!” So that was very dramatic and odd. [Laughs]
IFC: Did you use the original set from Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” video?
Weird Al: No, that didn’t really exist anymore. We tried to find out where they shot the original stuff, but those sets were gone and the locations looked completely different. So we basically did everything from scratch. We recreated the pool hall and the outdoor scenes on a soundstage in LA very, very quickly. I’m surprised we were able to finish the video. It was a very haphazard shoot. [Laughs] But it all came together. And that video, more than anything else in my career, had an enormous effect.
3. “Smells Like Nirvana”
Weird Al: I think we actually shot that on the same soundstage as Nirvana shot [“Smells Like Teen Spirit”]. It wasn’t an actual basketball court, of course. We got the same janitor, a bunch of the same cheerleaders, and some of the same audience members. We were driving more for authenticity on this one, so we got a lot of the same characters. I could be wrong, but I think it was all done in one day — one very long shoot — which is crazy. We didn’t know that we were going to get [Eight is Enough star] Dick Van Patten, but we knew we needed some random celebrity. So we went down the list to see who we could get, and somebody said, “Hey, I have a friend who knows Dick Van Patten.” We said, “Perfect!” And he showed up and he killed it.
4. “Amish Paradise”
Weird Al: Pretty sure that was a two-day shoot. That was a pretty complicated shoot because we wanted to shoot in Lancaster — again, for authenticity — but we found out very quickly that we couldn’t transport everybody across the country to go to Pennsylvania. So we had to shoot that in Southern California. And Lancaster’s very flat, and where we shot was very hilly. So we had to camouflage that there were hills everywhere. [Laughs] I got a lot of my family members in the video to play Amish people.
There’s a set piece at the end where we filmed an entire shot backwards, and I had to learn the chorus phonetically backwards, which was a real challenge. Of course, Florence Henderson’s there because, you know, when Michelle Pfeiffer can’t be in the video, Florence Henderson’s always available. [Laughs] She was amazing, and again it was a lot of fun. I think that was around the time that MTV stopped playing music videos. And it was a very popular video, but it was moot because MTV was just starting to say, “Yeah, we’re not so much a music video channel anymore.” [Laughs]
5. “Word Crimes”
Weird Al: That was basically a lyrics video done with kinetic typography, and I’m a big fan of that style of animation. And I was looking online to try to figure out who I wanted to actually do it, talent scouting on the Internet. [Laughs] And I saw a Jonathan Coulton video called “Shop Vac,” which was done by Jarrett Heather.
I saw in [Jarrett’s] work a sense of humor and a consummate level of skill, and I just liked his timing and the fact that he knew how to work with comedy. But I had checked all of his social media, and it was like he dropped off the face of the earth. His Twitter account had been inactive for a couple of years, and I thought, “Did this guy die?” [Laughs] So I emailed Jonathan Coulton and I tracked Jarrett down. He was working at his day job and just hadn’t been doing too much of that kind of work in his free time. And I said, “Hey, I really love the ‘Shop Vac’ video. Would you be interested in doing a video for my new album?” And he was thrilled and he did an amazing job. He spent over 500 hours working on the “Word Crimes” video, just basically him and his laptop. And he would go back and forth with me — I’d be giving him notes and he’d come back with these amazing ideas. And it was the song that ended up being the Top 40 single on the album, putting me in rare company of being one of three artists to have a Top 40 single in each of the last four decades.
Watch a clip of Weird Al’s diabolical twin from this week’s brand new Comedy Bang! Bang!.
Dave Anthony on Keeping the Comedy Real in Maron Season Four
Click here to read part one of our interview, where Dave talks about playing a “psycho” version of himself and offers a behind-the-scenes look at the acclaimed “Racegate” episode.
Comedian Dave Anthony pulls double duty on Maron as both cast member and writer. As season four progresses, Dave finds success while his “frenemy” Marc struggles with the fallout of a drug relapse. We spoke with the real Dave about the new season and how the writing staff works to keep things real and hilariously cringe-worthy even as Marc’s journey goes to some dark places.
IFC: What was the thinking behind having Marc fall back into addiction? It looked like at the end of last season things could have gone a bunch of different ways.
Dave: Yeah, it could have. We kind of left it that way so we could think about it and figure out what to do. Marc, on his own, decided that he wanted to do a season that was completely fictionalized, that had nothing to do with his actual life. I had always talked about, we should have [the Marc Maron character] drink for an episode or go off [his sobriety] for an episode. [Marc] was like, “why don’t we just do it? That will be the starting point.” We come back and he’s lost everything. It’s almost like rebuilding the show, in a way. We thought that would be really fun to write.
IFC: Why the storage locker?
Dave: We wanted to have a place, like [how] he always opens the show, and he lifts up the garage door. We wanted him to open up a big door. We wanted to have a place that he could sort of lie to himself that things weren’t that bad when they were clearly horrific. One of the writers knew of a guy who lived in a storage locker for like a year. We just took it from that.
IFC: Were the characters Marc encounters in rehab planned out ahead of time, or did you discover them while writing the season?
Dave: The only thing we really wanted to do was have people that were younger than [Marc] so that he sort of stood out for being the guy who screwed up late in his life. Then we wanted people that seemed a little more real, but were a little bit odd in a way. [Adam], the guy who stutters, is a kid [comedian Drew Lynch] who actually started stuttering when I believe he was 22 or 23. He got hit [in the throat] by a softball.
IFC: Adam wasn’t written to be a stutterer?
Dave: We auditioned people and the casting director just brought [Drew] in because she liked him as an actor. The character wasn’t written to stutter, he was just stuttering because that’s what he does. We were like, “Well that’s a kid that might, if something like that happened to someone, that’s kind of a tragic turn and you might start drinking.”
IFC: What about Trey, the wannabe rapper played by Chet Hanks?
Dave: I always wanted to do a white kid rapper as [Marc’s] roommate. I couldn’t think of anyone who would be more opposite of Marc to room with than a white guy who wants to be a rapper.
IFC: This season goes to some very emotional places. In terms of tone, do you and the other writers give thought to whether something is more sad than funny?
Dave: We’re not really concerned about things getting too dark or too weird. The only thing we really try to shy away from is being really too funny, so that if you’re just going for the funny, it doesn’t come across as real. Like a network [sitcom] will do joke, joke, joke, joke and it will just be about the jokes. We’re really trying to find the real moment, which was a hard balance this year, because in previous years, it was based on [Marc Maron’s] life — the moment and the emotions coming out of those moments were already established. Whereas this season, there’s a lot more discussing what a fictional character would do in the setting we’re putting him in.
IFC: Dave finds success this season with his own TV show. What was that like to play in a fictional setting?
Dave: That was really fun. To move my character into this place where he’s super successful but sort of still has that weird personality was really, really fun to act. Me personally, I’m super tied up in this old way of thinking that I’m not successful at all. It’s just part of my personality; I can’t get past it. Then I get to play with the character because the thing about me — and I would say this is the thing that’s most closely tied to my character — is that no matter how much success I’m getting, I always still feel like an open mic-er. I always still feel like no one knows who I am.
Watch what happens when Dave gets his own show tonight at 9P on a brand new Maron.
Dave Anthony on Writing for Maron and Playing a Different Version of Himself
Comedian, writer, and podcaster Dave Anthony started playing a fictional version of himself on Maron as a guest star in season one. By season two, he was a regular cast member and a writer on the show. An episode he wrote in season three, “Racegate,” was nominated for a 2016 Writers Guild Award and received critical acclaim. With Dave’s star on the rise on this week’s brand new Maron, we spoke with the real Dave Anthony about playing “Dave Anthony,” being recognized by fans and the WGA, and what he thinks of the future of podcasts.
IFC: How did you come to be a cast member and write for the show?
Dave: I had been on the first season [as an actor], and at that point, they said they liked me and wanted to have me in more episodes, but they had already sort of written out the season arc. They talked about bringing me back for the second season and then Marc [Maron], in the first season, he didn’t have another comic in the room writing. He said it was really important to have another stand-up comedian in the room, particularly one who had a little experience with alcoholism and sort of that world, which I have. He thought of me, [and] brought me in writing for the second season.
IFC: Is the writing process different than on other shows?
Dave: We have to get [our scripts] done before we shoot. A lot of shows will be writing while they’re shooting, but for us, it just won’t work that way. Marc has to be part of the writing process and there’s no way he could [act and write] at the same time.
IFC: How is it writing for yourself and also playing a version of yourself?
Dave: A psychopath version of myself. Marc and I have a little bit of similarities in the way our lives have gone and just how we sort of behave in life. We wanted my character to be a little bit different than me, just so it would have a better contrast. I don’t know who first started writing me that way, but it just started to turn into super deadpan. It just felt really natural to do it that way when I was dealing with Marc who is a character who is clearly more excitable and gets a lot more upset on the show. We thought it would be a good counter to that.
IFC: Do you ever find yourself saying, “Well, that’s not something that this character would ever say…”?
Dave: Yes! Which is crazy. I’ve been like, “The character isn’t super dirty, he’s just mean and weird.” You have these conversations and you’re like “wait, what’s happening?” It’s a literally made up character. We call him Dave Anthony, but he is just completely different than me.
IFC: Do people you encounter who watch the show have a hard time with that concept?
Dave: Yep. Totally. Most people think that’s what I am going to be like. A lot of people are scared of me a little bit when they first meet me, thinking I’m going to be that person. Then they’re like, “You’re not like that at all.” I’m acting, but it’s my name, so it does make it weird.
IFC: There are several scenes this season with Marc being recognized and interacting with fans.
Dave: We seem to be doing it more this season. As the show has gone on, his profile has increased. The [WTF podcast interview] with the president…he’s just kind of gone up a few levels so we just felt like, “Well, that’s what the show is.” We try keep it sort of based on his life, although this season is a departure.
IFC: Speaking of success, the “Racegate” episode was nominated for a 2016 Writers Guild Award. How did you find out about that?
Dave: Oh man, that was crazy. I was in the writers’ room and I got a text from [Everybody Loves Raymond writer] Mike Royce. He just texted me and was like, “Congratulations on your award.” I was like, “Wait, what’s happening?” Then I looked it up and it was already online everywhere. It was a pretty big deal because our show was the small show compared to all the other shows it was up against. It was funny, when I wrote that episode, we sat down to read it for the first time and [fellow Maron writer] Jerry Stahl looked across the room from me and said, “You’re going to get nominated for this episode.” I was like, “Shut up.”
IFC: Was the episode based on real life?
Dave: The storyline came from a tweet that someone made about Marc not having enough black people on his podcast. He, of course, was offended by that and I started asking him to name them. Then he was like, “Well, we travel in different circles and its hard to find them…” And I was like, “Well, there’s our episode. We have black people upset that you’re not having them on the show and we go from there.”
IFC: The dialogue spoken by Bruce Bruce and the other comics just talking shop felt very real. Was that something that was written out or did you just give them a guideline of what to discuss?
Dave: No, because when you get into stuff like race, when it’s handled on comedy shows, it’s usually handled so poorly and so obviously. I actually locked myself in a hotel room for three days, and I started reading all these blogs or articles about black comics and how they felt and what it was like to be in sort of a segregated community. How they had to change themselves when they went into different clubs, which white comics don’t have to do. From that, I created the dialogue between them.
IFC: Were you surprised by the reaction to the episode?
Dave: No, you know what’s funny is I almost can’t remember the reaction. The only reaction that I really cared about was from black comedians. The comedians that we cast, because we cast all comedians, they were all super happy with the dialogue. I still get African American comedians coming up to me and saying, “Hey man, that episode was spot-on, thank you.” That to me means more than anything. I have no idea what the experience they go through is, but through reading what they were saying, I was able to translate it. That to me was awesome.
IFC: Just like Dave on the show, you have your own podcast. How did the idea for The Dollop come about?
Dave: I’ve always been super into history and I spend tons of time reading about stuff online. Because I feel like the time when you could start a podcast and just talk to people is over and I think you have to have really specific content now to have a podcast that sort of pops out of the ocean of podcasts.
IFC: Speaking of an ocean of podcasts, you’re part of the LA Podcast Festival, now in its fifth year. How did that start?
Dave: Yeah, we’re coming up in September. It was an idea I had because Walking the Room was a really popular podcast [I co-hosted]; our fans really wanted to see it live. I got together with a couple friends, Graham Elwood and Chris Mancini, who had the Comedy Film Nerds podcast. The one thing about podcasting is that it’s really people doing it on their own. We felt like if a big company came in and started being gate keepers, it probably wouldn’t have the same feel as if some actual podcasters started it. That’s why we tried to jump in, and sure enough, as soon as we started doing it there were a bunch of companies that said they’d planned on doing it and we got there before them.
IFC: Last thing: How do you think the Giants are going to fair this year?
Dave: I don’t know, man. I’m getting my hopes up and I feel like I shouldn’t. I think they’re doing really well. They have the 1-2-3 pitching combo so it could all happen, that’s the biggest thing.
Click here to read part two of our interview, where Dave shares his thoughts on Marc’s journey to sobriety in season four and his character’s newfound success. To see what Dave’s up to on Wednesday’s brand new Maron, check out the clip below.
“Weird Al” Talks Comedy Bang! Bang!, His Upcoming Tour, Favorite Videos and More
With a career spanning five decades, “Weird Al” Yankovic has defined the song parody genre and become a beloved pop culture icon. Starting June 3rd, you’ll be able to catch him as the brand new Comedy Bang! Bang! bandleader Fridays at 11P on IFC.
We recently chatted with Al about joining Scott Aukerman on the new season, his upcoming tour, favorite CB!B! characters and his future dream projects. (Hint: it might involve actors spontaneously breaking into song.)
The Comedy Bang! Bang! bandleader gig seems like a natural fit for you. Did it take any time to get acclimated?
Weird Al: Yeah. It’s a slightly different skill set. The accordion is my main act, but I don’t use it on the show at all. It’s a keyboard setup. The actual setup is a little bit of a combination of what Reggie [Watts] had and [Kid] Cudi had. And a few extra things thrown in. So I’m trying to do my own version of what they brought to the show.
You’ve been on the Comedy Bang! Bang! podcast and the show many times. Do you have a favorite CB!B! character?
Weird Al: I’d probably have to say Doctor Time. Every time Scott wants me to do an evil character, he’s always got a bad English accent. [Laughs] Any time my character goes evil, he becomes sort of British.
Any favorite guests you’ve worked with?
Weird Al: Gosh, I love them all. Paul F. Tompkins is always fun. His Andrew Lloyd Webber character, Cake Boss, everything he does. And Andy Daly as well. They’re so versatile and so amazing at improv. That’s the one thing I was a little nervous about because I’ve never been super confident with my improv skills. But Comedy Bang! Bang!, particularly the TV version, is good for that because it’s all heavily edited. So it kind of gives me permission to try out whatever comes to my mind, so if it really sucks, they’re not gonna use it. [Laughs]
Your upcoming tour is a continuation of your Mandatory Fun tour from last year. Any new elements to the show?
Weird Al: Well, it is the same tour, so it’s not that much different. I might freshen some video a little bit. I’m hoping to use a bit or two from the current season of Comedy Bang! Bang! and slip that into the show somewhere.
The tour starts June 3rd in St. Petersburg, Florida and ends September 24th at Radio City Music Hall. How do you keep up the pace?
Weird Al: It’s just a mindset. I’m really only working for two hours a day, so I basically just save up my energy for the show. I relax, surf online, watch satellite TV, read a book, rest my voice, and then give it all I got when I’m onstage.
Looking back at your vast song catalog, was there ever a parody that came to you immediately upon hearing the song?
Weird Al: Yeah, that’s happened a few times. More often than not, I have to think about it and analytically work out all the variations on a theme that I can and pick out the one with the most potential. But there’s been a few times where the idea came to me spontaneously. I think the first time I saw Michael Jackson’s “Bad” video, before it was even over, I thought, “Oh! I gotta do ‘Fat’! Super-plus-sized actors trying to get through a turnstile on a subway! I gotta do that!”
Do you have a favorite of your many hilarious videos?
Weird Al: Oh boy, it’s hard to say. “White and Nerdy” has been my biggest hit and that was a really fun video to do. But in terms of making a video, “Tacky” was really fun to do because it was so easy and I got to work with amazing people like Jack Black, Margaret Cho, Kristen Schaal, Eric Stonestreet, and Aisha Tyler. And we knocked it out in a couple of hours. We were having so much fun while making it, I kinda wish we weren’t so efficient and professional. [Laughs] I could’ve done that all night.
Was it filmed all in one take or was it stitched together?
Weird Al: That was all one take. Some people say, “Oh, I see where the edit is,” but it was all one shot. We did a total of six takes, and I think four of those takes were usable, but the last one was the best.
And you were directing while performing?
Weird Al: I directed that one, yeah. We location scouted and found a building in downtown LA that I thought was good for the shoot. I’ve since seen that building in a lot of other movies and TV shows — I think it was used in The Big Lebowski and a few others. It was difficult because I start the video in one set of clothes and I also end the video in a completely different set of clothes. So while the cameras were off me, because there’s only one elevator in the building, I had to run down five flights of stairs, quickly change my clothes, and hit my mark for the end. And after the take, we’d all just watch what we did, and say, “OK, let’s do it again.”
Is there a director you’d love to work with in the future?
Weird Al: Oh gosh, yeah, but I mean, music videos are notoriously low-budget so that’s why I end up directing them myself. [Laughs] But I’d love to be in a movie codirected by Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino.
Do you have a particular genre of music that you love parodying the most? Or is it more of the moment and different for each song?
Weird Al: It doesn’t necessarily revolve around personal taste so much. It really depends more on the song than the genre. But I found rap songs tend to lend themselves to parody, mostly because there’s a lot of words to play with. A lot of pop songs are repetitive, and that’s sometimes been an issue. With rap, there’s no shortage of syllables to mess around with.
Given that you’ve been so prolific and done so much, is there any type of art left that you’d like to dip your toe in? Dramatic acting, perhaps?
Weird Al: Well, if Spielberg and Tarantino want me for their film, I wouldn’t want to turn them down. But there’s no burning desire to do drama. I love doing comedy and feel comfortable doing that. Writing a musical might be something I do down the line. I don’t know when but I might take a shot at something in that area. Other than that, I’ve done pretty much all I wanted to do in my life so far. A lot of it not successfully. [Laughs] But I took a stab at it and feel gratified by that.
You’ve had such a eclectic career in music and comedy. What do you attribute your longevity to?
Weird Al: [Laughs] I don’t know what I’d attribute the longevity to. There’s a modicum of talent, but it’s mostly because I surround myself with very talented people. I’ve got a great support group, I’ve got the same band since the early ’80s, and I’ve worked with the same people for decades. And I got a very loyal fan base and I love what I do. And somehow I’ve been very lucky and it’s worked out so far.
Watch “Weird Al” in an episode from the new season of Comedy Bang! Bang! right now, before the season premiere on Friday June 3rd at 11P.
Richard Linklater Shares His Filmmaking Secrets in Spirit Awards Interview
Richard Linklater, the acclaimed filmmaker who is nominated for a 2015 Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Director for Boyhood, loves to tell a good story.
In a new interview with the director, Linklater explains that the secret to good filmmaking lies in having a good story to tell — and if that story is personal, even better. But, the Dazed and Confused director who recognized Matthew McConaughey’s considerable talents before anyone else did, doesn’t think that filmmaking is for everyone. It’s hard work that can have few rewards outside of the satisfaction of having the chance to tell a good story to an audience. But for those with the drive? According to Linklater, there’s nothing else like it.
Watch below – sponsored by Bank of America.
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Richard Linklater Shares His Filmmaking Secrets in Spirit Awards Interview
The Spirit Awards air LIVE on IFC on Saturday Feb. 21 at 5p ET/2p PT
Seth Herzog on His Awkward Dog Shelter Performance
Seth Herzog currently holds the cushy gig of opening for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. To bring him back to earth, IFC had Seth perform in a New York City pizzeria for our new web series Comedy Drop. Unsurprisingly, the comedian was skilled enough to pull off the guerrilla-style gig unscathed. To find out how Seth was able to get his comedy to that level, we interviewed him about his process.
Aside from Comedy Drop, where was the strangest—or most interesting—place you’ve done stand up?
I once agreed to perform at a benefit for stray dogs that need rescue. There was no stage, no mic, no amp. Just people talking loud [and] standing around a dog shelter, which smelled exactly the way you’d imagine. First of all, performing without a mic doesn’t help, and having everyone standing isn’t a bonus, but having a several dogs barking and howling interrupting your set pretty much nails it. The dogs were getting many more laughs than I was.
Where was the first place you ever performed?
My 5th grade talent show. I didn’t feel like doing something with other people (ie: figuring out an idea, organizing rehearsals, etc.) So I memorized some jokes from side two of Steve Martin’s Let’s Get Small. It was his least popular comedy album, and I figured if they heard it, they may not have gotten to side two. I didn’t even get why half the jokes were funny (and apparently neither did my follow elementary students). Either way, it was a great experiment in just getting up by myself and being funny for others.
Performing in front of crowds—especially ones not expecting comedy—has to be tough. Do you have any rituals to shake pre-show jitters?
When I’m particularly nervous, I’ll walk out into the audience and touch each audience member on the face for 5 seconds, while my eyes are closed. Just to create a connection with each person. Then I leave the stage for several seconds or minutes, to get my head together. Then I return to the stage, having not changed clothes or anything and talk about “who was the crazy guy who touched everyone’s face?! What a freak show.” It just gets me relaxed.
How do you approach joke writing? Do you hunker down and write, or does inspiration need to find you first?
I do set aside time to sit and write jokes based on ideas I think might have potential, but the best material, that often end up becoming staples, is stuff I just think of while walking or just living and then it forms the first time on stage.
Is a joke ever fully “ready,” or is it always “in progress”?
Well, you are always trying to figured out the maximum amount of “funny” you can squeeze out of a concept with the appropriate wording, timing, etc. However, to keep it feeling and sounding fresh, new and alive to the audience, I’ll often change up the way I word a joke just a little and sometimes it will lead to a new angle to tangent on it. So jokes can be always be [in] progress, if you want them to be.
What is the best piece of stand up advice you’ve ever heard?
It’s about trying to write the best jokes you can, it’s more trying figuring out how to be the most “you” you can be on stage, and they way you are funny in a way that no one else is, and get really comfortable doing that. That’s where the magic is.
What’s a joke that makes you laugh, or smile, every time?
There are so many, I may have to get back to you on that.