Last Tuesday, in New York City, there was a special event at the Museum of Modern Art as part of the Pop Rally cultural events series that combined film, fine art, and comedy. The premise was that curators would select three silent films from the MoMA archives, and invite comedians to make response films, and then the originals and the responses would be shown in the MoMA screening room with live piano accompaniment just like in the olden days. That is a fun concept. Clever girl.
The comedians who were invited to participate were virtually all Videogum fan favorites, including Nick Kroll, Joe Mande, Gabe and Jenny, who made an incredible video featuring a dog driving a car and so much pooping, Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s ThunderAnt, who made this video as a meta-commentary on commentary in general (meta-funny!), and the whole thing was hosted by Max Silvestri. Perfect. All in all, it was a very fun night. You should have been there. That’s on you.
What was kind of interesting–in the do-you-mind-if-I-finish-all-the-pot-brownies meaning of “interesting”–was how “webby” most of the response films were.
Nick Kroll’s video was basically a vlog, for example. ThunderAnt’s was done in the same style as the rest of their on-line series. Maybe it had something to do with the strict time constraint, or the inherent laziness of comedians who probably waited until the last minute to make their videos (which does not mean that they didn’t pull it off) so that they’d have more time to eat all the pizza. But even though they were “webby,” the videos weren’t “shitty,” which is often the problem.
Take, for example, Joe Mande’s response video. Well, first of all, take the original film that Joe Mande’s video responded to. It’s called The Knockout, and it is incredible.
Admittedly, it was way better with musical accompaniment. Sorry. But you can still agree that things were so much better before we started caring about animals. Here is Joe Mande’s video, which he explained is based on three premises:
1. That it is 15 years after The Knockout was released.
2. That this is the Criterion Edition DVD commentary.
3. That The Knockout was released in 1993.
The point is that obviously this could never be a viral sensation because in order to understand how funny it is, and it is very, very funny, you have to have seen the original film, and normally you will never have seen the original film. It’s just so much easier when a viral video has a guy riding a Sea-Doo in a hot tub. No context needed. But it’s nice, even if it’s only for a couple of minutes, to imagine a world in which viral videos were actually about something. Well done, Joe Mande and the rest of the comedians. Well done, Pop Rally event.