It's no accident that IFC announced its rebranding as… IFC on the same day it debuted The Spoils of Babylon. After all, this star-studded spoof of old-school television miniseries (made in conjunction with Will Ferrell and his Funny or Die outfit) has next to nothing to do with the channel's original identity as the "Independent Film Channel" and everything to do with its burgeoning line-up of alt-comedy shows like Maron and Portlandia. So, going forward, IFC simply stands for IFC and if Spoils works ratings magic, you can expect to see more stunts like it in the future.
After what I presume to be quite a bit of market research, IFC does not like the word "hipster" and refrains from using it at all costs. Of course, you wouldn't be able to tell from their "Upfront-Landia" -- defined by hyper-aware IFC as "network upfront combined with the only show you've ever heard from us" -- event when you first entered the party, as the vibe of the slightly industrial room at Off Broadway's New World Stages screamed "too cool" to me. (Though, oddly, the party was seriously lacking in vegetarian hors d'oeuvres, but I digress.)
While some mostly original content has been on IFC for the past few years, over the past few months the channel has worked hard to place more of these shows front and center on its schedule. They've changed their logo, given us Portlandia, and today they threw down the gauntlet by having their very first honest-to-goodness upfront. While most channels work to produce huge spectacles to wow reporters and advertisers, today IFC gave us a chill laid back presentation fitting for a post-SXSW week. The whole event was so subdued that even Suzanne Sena opening the presentation in her Onion News Network persona, Brooke Alvarez, wasn't even annoying. We were then told just how cool IFC is and how it is working to "curate alternative comedy," so that we would know that even though they were holding an upfront they still were proud to be serving their own spot in television the "media of the niches." Even if they were almost too chill, I have to give them credit for not overusing buzz words like "authentic." After a pithy rundown of the new shows, Fred Armisen was brought out as if a bird to be put on a tote bag to announce that they will beginning writing the next season of Portlandia in April.
Like a lot of people, my gateway into Marc Maron's vital WTF podcast was the once-struggling stand-up comic's famous two-part chat with estranged pal Louis C.K., which I initially heard excerpted on another show and immediately tracked it down to its source. It's a remarkable conversation, with both guys mining personal territory that's usually omitted from the public forum, particular in the context of an ostensible celebrity interview.
Live from New York... it's the dude from The Voice!
Who knew Mario Lopez could be relevant for more than one reason in a single day?
Once upon a time, in the golden age of sketch comedy, there were a dozen sketch shows on the air at a given time. Since then, the field has been whittled down to a precious few, until for a while it was just Saturday Night Live battling an ailing Mad TV. But there has been a new power rising in the East. A dark power, made up of equal parts Kids in the Hall, The Vacant Lot and Exit 57, fueled by the power of feces and prone to having sex with animals. They're The Whitest Kids U'Know, and their third season of uncensored sketch comedy begins tonight on IFC. We talked to them about why Hitler is an inspiration, why dinosaurs are awesome and why this season was almost called "Season Drugs."
If you haven't been watching IFC's Z Rock, about a rock band in New York City that plays gigs by night and kids' parties by day, you may want to tune in this Sunday. The show -- a hybrid of Flight of the Conchords, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Curb Your Enthusiasm, but with a lot fewer words in the title -- has a new guest-star in every episode, from rockers like Sebastian Bach and Dave Navarro to comedians like Dave Attell and Gilbert Gottfried, and this week's is no exception. I'd build up to it some more, but as you've probably already read in the title, it's Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider.
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