Mr. Dressup-lookalike posing as a Viking for a video dating service, circa 1987.
Wayne and Garth impersonators. Pregnant-celebrity exercise videos. Wieners and vomit. This Thursday night, at the Bloor Cinema, prepare to immerse yourself in the Found Footage Festival: a “celebration of bad videos,” where the humour is always unintentional and male full-frontal nudity is mandatory, regardless of who may or may not pass out.
While the concept might seem trite and smug, reminding you of the TV Carnage series by Derrick Beckles (aka Pinky), co-founders Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett insist otherwise. “We are never intentionally offensive, we are scared to death of coming off as snarky assholes,” Pruher asserts, while Pickett laments, “We’ve all been there. I know that I have embarrsssing home videos of myself doing karate moves at twelve. Nick has one of him singing [Will Smith’s] “Parents Just Don’t Understand” at Disneyland. I think these videos speak to people.” To confirm this fact, many actors in the videos often come to the shows and reenact their scenes, telling stories and generally making fun of themselves, ironically or not.
For Prueher and Pickett, the Found Footage Festival is just another step in their comedic careers. The pair created a humour magazine when they were both eleven and have been working for comedic luminaries such as the Onion, Late Night with David Letterman, and the Colbert Report for the past decade. Collecting videos with their friends since 1991, they finally came up with the idea to begin international video screenings while trying to self-finance a documentary. Pruher and Pickett quit their jobs to film 2007‘s Dirty Country, which follows “the Amadeus of dirty music,” Larry Pierce, a blue-collar, middle-aged married factory worker in the Midwest, who pens filthy country hits, such as ”She Makes My Peter Stand Up” and “Yeast Infection.”
“We were suprised in 2004, when somebody told us to put the clips in front of an audience and it sold out,” Prueher reflects. “Because of the internet, ironic enjoyment has become so popular. With a hundred shows a year and audiences of three hundred people, it’s the gentrification of nerd culture!” While all sorts of people come to the show, from public-radio listeners to the elderly to college kids, sometimes not all references come through. This isn’t a major concern, though. Despite the fact that audience members born in the ’90s might not know who Zsa Zsa Gabor or Alyssa Milano are, it is the aesthetic that translates. “Often people will tell us their faces hurt afterwards from laughing so hard,” says Prueher.
Future plans for Prueher and Pickett include a high-concept monthly comedy show in New York, which contains less maintream material than what has previously been shown. The duo will also collaborate with Beckles, who contributed an exercise video montage called “Let’s Work It Out” to their current tour. Back in New York, the three plan to host a month-long storefront mock-up of a mom-and-pop ’80s video store. Curating their collection of three thousand videos, the space will be divided into sections such as “pregnant-celebrity exercise.” Visitors will be able to watch these videos for a few dollars at various TV/VCR units placed throughout the store.
“In the future, we could be finding hard drives. Whatever the format is, people will always have bad ideas,” Prueher laments. Regardless, he insists that Toronto audience members should do their part and come to Thursday night’s show with a video they would like to present. In a city that is currently pretty damn cold, the Found Footage Festival is bound to warm up Thursday night.
The Found Footage Festival will be at the Bloor Cinema Thursday, February 3, and Friday, February 4 at 9:00 p.m. Advance tickets are $15 through their website.
Stills and photos courtesy of the Found Footage Festival.