The Return of the Found Footage Festival

The world is full of unwanted VHS cassettes, which is a good thing for Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett. They mine comic gold from the unwanted dregs of the video universe, which they serve up every so often with their Found Footage Festival. The results are often shocking, absurd, and pathetic. But they are also, almost always, funny.

Prueher and Pickett arrive in the Bay Area this coming weekend for three shows, highlighting their sixth collection. They sent me a DVD of the current show, recorded in concert in Chicago.

There’s nothing here quite as disgusting as their second collection’s How To Seduce Women Through Hypnosis, but the show still goes over the edge. There are male andimage female how-to masturbation videos (and yes, I really believe they were intended to be educational), and a nude exercise video starring a woman with breasts that are not found in nature. But easily the most disgusting clip is “Wound Round Live,” a horrifyingly upbeat, extremely graphic, mock game show about deeply injured body parts.

But “Dancing With Frank Pacholski”–while only mildly disgusting–took the humor prize, leaving me laughing so hard I was gasping for air. Mr. Pacholski, who manages to look both ripped and paunchy, wears nothing but a mask and an American flag jock strap as he does the most bizarre dancing imaginable, all in front a a handful of very confused senior citizens. He seemed very happy about it.

Other memorable moments include montages of child safety videos (one of which stars a clown far more frightening than any strangers with candy), instructional videos for ferret ownership and opossum massage (and no, oppossum is not meant here as a metaphor), a slideshow of VHS covers, and a fake yo-yo expert who manages to get on several local news broadcasts despite a clear lack of ability.

Not everything hit a home run. The montage of music lesson videos was only moderately amusing. “The Chris Tape,” involving a very stoned man explaining that he’s the new Jesus, only produced moderate derisive laughter.

Whether the clips are hilarious or only moderately amusing, the format remains the same. Prueher and Pickett come on stage and introduce a clip or a montage. They generally remain silent during the clip, but occasionally make comments.

While I admit that I have yet to see them perform live, I’m confident that it would make for an extremely enjoyable evening–assuming you like this sort of thing. I certainly do.

The Festival will perform at the New Parkway Friday the 14th, at 10:00, and Saturday and Sunday (the 15th and 16th) at the Roxie, at 8:00.

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4 Responses

  1. The New Parkway has not opened to the public yet. Given that they have not announced an opening date and they don’t have a website listing their film schedule, I think it unlikely the FFF will screen at the New Parkway. You can purchase tickets for the show on the 14th at the FFF website but I still doubt the FFF screening will occur at the New Parkway.

  2. I had my own misgivings about this, but the FFF have a contact with the theater, and they’re selling tickets. I assume they know what they’re doing.

  3. I received an email from the New Parkway last night. They are crossing their fingers regarding opening on Friday but still caution that it may not happen.

    “For the moment, assume that we’re not opening, and we’ll send out a short note on Facebook, Twitter, and via this email list to let you know if we are. And if not, we’ll be open soon, hopefully within days, not weeks.”

    Looper, Beasts of the Southern Wild & Pitch Perfect are their opening week films. No mention of FFF in the email.

    • My press contact for the theater tells me “FFF will happen tomorrow night. You’ve got my promise on that!”

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