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Be careful with pubic hair: 6 lessons the Birthday Boys learned from the first season of their show

When IFC ordered a series from Los Angeles sketch-comedy group the Birthday Boys, the septet wasn’t starting from scratch: Not only did it have eight years of performance experience under its belt, but it also had Bob Odenkirk—a man whose face belongs on the Mt. Rushmore of sketch comedy—as a collaborator, frequent star, and executive producer. That said, television remained a new frontier for the Birthday Boys, and the 10 episodes they made last year—now available on Netflix—provided a crash course in TV production for them.

Ahead of the season 2 premiere of The Birthday Boys tonight at 11:30 ET on IFC, EW sat down with Jefferson Dutton, Dave Ferguson, Michael Hanford, Tim Kalpakis, Matt Kowalick, Mike Mitchell, and Chris Vanartsdalen at IFC headquarters in Manhattan to talk about what they learned.

1. Standards & practices doesn’t do jokes about child molestation.
TIM KALPAKIS: There was a fun sex romp comedy movie trailer called Molesters. [Everyone laughs.] That one made it through the group, made it to IFC, and came right back. [Laughs.]
JEFFERSON DUTTON: When they rejected it, [they said] “We don’t even have to tell you why this won’t work.”
KALPAKIS: It was the only time ever that the note was “We can’t do this.”
DUTTON: It was “No, we can do no version of this.” [Laughs.]
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was the premise?
KALPAKIS: It was in the dog days of summer, and seven adult guys are hanging out in the cul de sac of a suburban neighborhood.
DUTTON: “Another bummer summer.”
KALPAKIS: “Man, this summer is boring.”
DUTTON: A van pulls up.
KALPAKIS: A cherubic new boy in town struts by [Laughs.] and everyone goes “Whoa!
DAVE FERGUSON: Like Michael J. Fox when he sees the 4-by-4 [in Back to the Future].
KALPAKIS: With some cool music. And then it was just a hard cut to prison. They’re like, [dejected] “Man, this summer…”
FERGUSON: The only thing that’s unfair about shooting that down is they do get their comeuppance.

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Watch Dana Carvey in a clip from 'The Birthday Boys' season 2

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Maybe it hasn’t been put this way yet, but we’re living in the golden age of sketch comedy on television. When else has there been such a plethora of great options? Comedy Central has several of them—Key & Peele, Kroll Show, Inside Amy Schumer—but comedy nerds should also be watching The Birthday Boys on IFC.

Executive produced by sketch-comedy guru Bob Odenkirk (for Ben Stiller’s Red Hour) and starring the titular L.A.-based group, the series returns for its second season Oct. 17—which leaves plenty of time to binge the 10-episode first season on Netflix if you missed it. Fans of Odenkirk’s seminal sketch series Mr. Show will undoubtedly see its influence on the Birthday Boys’ sketches, which mostly eschew timely references (that quickly grow dated) in favor of a more whimsical goofiness.

In this exclusive clip from the show’s upcoming second season, the Boys star in a commercial for designer clothes too expensive to really wear. It features another comedy legend, Dana Carvey (on whose short-lived sketch show Odenkirk wrote).

The Birthday Boys airs Friday nights at 11:30 p.m. ET on IFC.

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Lizzy Caplan talks sexism in Hollywood, makes sweet music with Reggie Watts on 'Comedy Bang! Bang!' -- EXCLUSIVE

Lizzy Caplan is funny, sexy, and seriously talented. She can do it all — and has — in a career that’s spanned from Mean Girls to Masters of Sex. But maybe she’s a little too good.

That’s what Comedy Bang! Bang! host Scott Aukerman posits when the actress stops by his IFC show on Thursday. Does she ever wonder if maybe there are too many complex, dynamic roles for women in Hollywood? Maybe the ladies better slow it down and give the boys a chance.

“Boys can be funny,” Caplan reasons, cheekily poking fun at the lack of opportunities for women in the mainstream comedy landscape. “I just think maybe they haven’t had the opportunity to be funny for as long as girls have,” she adds, trying not to laugh.

Sidekick Reggie Watts has another theory why men haven’t been given a fair shake in comedy, and it has to do with biology. Check out his reasoning — and the full exclusive clip — below: READ FULL STORY

IFC orders series from 'SNL' vets Seth Meyers, Bill Hader, and Fred Armisen

IFC is solidifying itself as a destination for top names in comedy. Ahead of its annual upfront event scheduled for Thursday evening, the network announced a 2014-15 programming and development slate that includes a new series from a trio of Saturday Night Live veterans and Community star Joel McHale.

Fred Armisen, Bill Hader and Seth Meyers are behind the new comedy American Documentary, a half-hour anthology series featuring documentaries and biopics about completely made-up historical figures. Also added to the schedule is American Storage, a scripted half-hour comedy starring Rob Huebel (Childrens Hospital, Human Giant) as a free-spirited L.A. bachelor who lives in a storage facility. Both new series are slated to premiere in 2015.

Next year IFC will also introduce the Comedy Music Awards, a collaboration with CollegeHumor that satirizes traditional awards shows, while honoring the best in the musical comedy genre.

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Fred Savage to direct, produce IFC's 'Garfunkel and Oates'

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Who’d have guessed that Kevin Arnold would grow up to be a director?

Fred Savage — erstwhile star of The Wonder Years and, more recently, a prolific TV director who’s helmed episodes of everything from 2 Broke Girls to It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia — has signed on to play a major role in IFC’s Garfunkel and Oates. The network announced Wednesday that Savage will executive produce the scripted comedy series, as well as direct all eight episodes of its first season.

“Fred is one of today’s hottest comedy directors and he’s a huge addition to Garfunkel and Oates as both series director and executive producer. We’re thrilled to have him at the helm of this smart new comedy,” said IFC President Jennifer Caserta said in a release.

Garfunkel and Oates — named after Art Garfunkel and John Oates — stars Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci, who have performed together as a folk-comedy duo since 2007. According to IFC, the series will “chronicle the pair’s humorous misadventures and how they rely on each other — and a few clever songs — to get them through their personal and professional stumbles.” Think Broad City plus Flight of the Conchords, perhaps with an extra dash of Portlandia quirk as well. Production begins in Los Angeles on Wednesday; IFC will premiere the series late this summer.

'Portlandia': Get a first look at a season 4 sketch and its spin-off webisodes -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

Fresh, gluten-free, locally sourced episodes of Portlandia don’t hit the air for another month (IFC, Feb. 27, 10 p.m.), but your first whiff of season 4 is a mere click away. The following sketch, which will be seen in the fourth episode, features the return of middle-aged couple Malcolm (Fred Armisen) and Kris (Carrie Brownstein), who appeared in season 3’s “Fart Patio” and season 2’s “Firepit.” This time, they are tailgating before a Prairie Home Companion show at Rose Quarter, and s#@%’s about to get crazy. Like, spouting-off-about-jug-bands-and-sipping-slightly-illegal-tea crazy. The “Prairie Home Companion Tailgating” bit is also being spun off into a series of four webisodes, which you can also watch below. Warning: Contains a streaker.

Celebrity guests joining Armisen and Brownstein this season include Kirsten Dunst, Maya Rudolph, Olivia Wilde, Vanessa Bayer, k.d. Lang, and Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, while Steve Buscemi, Jason Sudekis, Kyle MacLachlan and Jeff Goldblum are among the returning faces. READ FULL STORY

Kristen Wiig and Tobey Maguire get too close in 'Spoils of Babylon' clip -- VIDEO

Gird your loins: In just a few short weeks, IFC will premiere The Spoils of Babylon — an epic miniseries parody based on an epic fake novel about an epic fictional family of oil tycoons. The clan includes Kristen Wiig and Tobey Maguire as Cynthia and Devon, a brother and sister with… more than familiar feelings for each other. (Don’t start playing the theme from Flowers in the Attic in your head — Devon’s adopted.)

How intense is Cynthia and Devon’s passion? So intense that in this first clip from the series, they engage in an almost hookup that can only be described as an orgy of nose-stabbing. Eat your heart out, Chris and Cathy Dollanganger.

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'The Birthday Boys': See a clip from the IFC sketch series produced by Bob Odenkirk and Ben Stiller -- VIDEO

Yes, Bob Odenkirk is returning to the world of weekly sketch comedy series. Nope, it’s not in the form of Mr. Show. (Though, if you said that, you’ve got guts… the guts of a man who’s fired!). Odenkirk and Ben Stiller — who teamed up in the early ’90s on Fox’s short-lived, Emmy-winning The Ben Stiller Show — are the executive producers of The Birthday Boys, which premieres Oct. 18 at 10:30 p.m. on IFC. Look for Odenkirk to appear regularly on the show as well. (And, of course, on the Breaking Bad spin-off featuring Saul Goodman. And on Fargo.) Stiller, meanwhile, will guest-star in one episode.

In case you’re not familiar with the Birthday Boys — a.k.a. Jefferson Dutton, Dave Ferguson, Mike Hanford, Tim Kalpakis, Matt Kowalick, Mike Mitchell, and Chris VanArtsdalen — they are a sketch group that formed in 2007 and have performed regularly at L.A.’s Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. Now they’re ready to kick things up multiple notches and get into a special kind of mischief. How crazy does it get? Click on the video below before you get TP’d.
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See an episode of Bob Odenkirk's new sketch series -- VIDEO

Yes, Breaking Bad is gone for good, and Better Call Saul is still just a glimmer in Vince Gilligan’s eye. But if there’s a Bob Odenkirk-shaped hole in your heart, fear not: The scene stealer will return to TV later this month with The Birthday Boys, a new IFC series. It’s the first sketch show Odenkirk has headlined since his Mr. Show days — and that fact, plus the presence of co-executive producer Ben Stiller, should be enough to excite any fan of ’90s cult comedy.

Though The Birthday Boys doesn’t premiere on TV until Oct. 18, IFC has already posted an episode online. Check it out here — then discuss whether you think it’ll be an effective Saul stopgap.

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'Comedy Bang! Bang!': Watch what happens when Andy Samberg is asked a terrible question -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

When Comedy Bang! Bang! returns to IFC on July 12, Andy Samberg drops by for a delightful chat with host Scott Aukerman. Well, maybe not so much delightful as… DOWNRIGHT DANGEROUS! As you will see in the video below, something starts to smell funny when Aukerman asks the former Saturday Night Live star a rather pungent question. READ FULL STORY

'Portlandia' renewed for two more seasons

The dream of the ’90s is still alive! IFC has renewed Portlandia, starring Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, for two more seasons. Season 4 will begin in early 2014 and season 5 is scheduled for early 2015. Each season has a ten-episode order.

In a press release, the president and general manager of IFC Jennifer Caserta said, “Portlandia has celebrated sustainable local agriculture, underemployment, avian crafting, gender politics, intense bicycle messengers and so much more. We can now celebrate two more seasons.”

Armisen recently said goodbye to Saturday Night Live singing a song he wrote called “It’s a Lovely Day” that ended “It’s been all right, I’ve had a lovely night with you.”

Watch a classic Portlandia season one clip below:

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Kristen Wiig, Michael Sheen and more join Will Ferrell in 'Spoils of Babylon'

Did the madness on last night’s Game of Thrones make you long for another epic in your life?

 

IFC to the rescue! The network has announced the rest of the cast for The Spoils of Babylon, an epic parody of television mini-series produced by Funny Or Die and starring Will Ferrell. Rounding out the cast will be Jessica Alba, Val Kilmer, Tobey Maguire, Haley Joel Osment, Michael Sheen, Tim Robbins, and Kristen Wiig. The show, a television adaptation of a best-selling epic novel by fictional famous author Eric Jonrosh (Ferrell), will have six half-hour episodes that will premiere in early 2014.

The Spoils of Babylon, a century-spanning saga, chronicles the sexy and dramatic lives of the Morehouse family, led by Jonas Morehouse (Robbins), his daughter Cynthia (Wiig) and her adopted brother Devon (Maguire) who made their fortune in the oil business,” according to a press release. “The series takes viewers from the oil fields of Texas to boardrooms in New York City, through war torn battlefields and velvet-sheeted bedrooms. Cynthia and Devon’s unbridled and taboo passion for one another cannot be prevented. Add in Cynthia’s evil son Winston (Osment), her put upon husband Chet Halner (Sheen), and Devon’s new love interest Dixie Mellonworth (Alba), and the booze, the pills, more passion, more pills and the heartache, and you have a mercurial potboiler. Then add in illegal arms deals, international espionage, the Shah of Iran (Ferrell), and two U.S. Army generals (Kilmer, Steve Tom) and it begins to overflow with boiling liquid in a pot on a hot stove that is operational.”

“This amazingly talented cast will give this decadent genre its due respect,” said Jennifer Caserta, president and general manager of IFC in a press release. “Never before has a parody of a mini-series been more poised for showers of accolades.”

Emmy voters, consider this your official heads-up!

Read more:
Will Ferrell lines up new IFC show
‘Inside the Actors Studio’ reaches 250 episodes: The best clips from the first 249
IFC debuts ‘Maron’ pilot online: ‘There’s no such thing as a career in comedy!’ — VIDEO

'Maron' review: Why the IFC show is making funny guy Marc Maron even more neurotic

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“I’ve been on Conan O’Brien like 47 times, and you don’t know who I am, right?” asks Marc Maron in the premiere episode of Maron, a new IFC comedy that’s based on his real life as a comedian and podcast host. He’s talking to his veterinarian, which is kind of funny: What kind of self-important blowhard cares if his veterinarian knows who he is? But really, he’s talking to you and me and anyone else who might’ve caught his show while flipping through the channels. Because nothing is more important to Maron than making sure that everyone knows who he is.

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