Documentary Now!

Documentary Now! is probably the niche-iest niche show on TV these days. If you’ve never heard of it (and who could blame you) -Bill Hader, Fred Armisen, and Seth Meyers write, produce, and star in the show that chooses a different documentary to retell and mock each episode. It’s weird, it’s hilarious. And last week I got to see their panel at the 92nd Street Y.

The evening included an advanced screening of season two’s premiere episode called “The Bunker” based on the 1993 political documentary The War Room. (Bill Hader plays a parody of James Carville and it’s everything.) There was a brief intermission and then the lights dimmed, and the curtain rose and Meyers, Hader, and Armisen were all sitting there. It was kinda like seeing Mickey Mouse at Disney World for the first time.

The moderator (who I’m pretty sure binged watched all of the first season the night before based on her pretty lame questions) was quickly swept aside as all three of the comedians riffed off the each other. It took them probably ten minutes to answer one question but no one cared because we were laughing so hard. Thankfully, though the magic of YouTube, you can watch the panel below.

Anyway, afterward they took a couple of pictures from the stage. From where I was sitting I couldn’t get there soon enough to get a selfie (so please enjoy these low resolution photos taken from farther away) but I did get to shake Seth Meyers’ hand which is still pretty cool.



Mockumentaries and Their Documentaries 

Season 1 (on Netflix)

“Sandy Passage” — Grey Gardens (My personal favorite)

“Kunuk Uncovered” — Nanook Revisited

“DRONEZ: The Hunt of El Chignon”– VICE News

“The Eye Doesn’t Lie”– The Thin Blue Line

“A Town, A Gangster, A Festival”– Hollywood

“Gentle and Soft: The Story of the Blue Jean Committee, Parts 1 & 2” — History of the Eagles


Season 2

The Bunker” — The War Room

“Juan Likes Rice and Chicken” — Jiro Dreams of Sushi

“Parker Gail’s Location is Everything”– Swimming to Cambodia 

“Final Transmission” — Stop Making Sense

“Globesman” — Salesman

“Mr. Runner Up: My Life as an Oscar Bridesmaid, Parts 1 & 2” — The Kid Stays in the Picture


Documentary NowIFC, Wednesdays 10/9 central




Bookmarked 9.16.16

If you have a friend who wears TOMS but also litters…

TIMS by Tripp and Tyler: A dead-on mockery of those one-for-one programs.


If you’re still on the fence about getting rid of your landline…

Mystery Science Theater 3000: 20th Century Calling: Do I really need to explain MST3K? This is one of their shorts which are generally a good way to introduce doubters to the snarkiest of shows.


If you’re like me and always meant to learn about classical music…

Mozart in the Jungle: This TV show is based on a book I’ll probably never get around to reading about a young oboist in the New York Symphony and the new conductor shaking up their program. Bernadette Peters and Gael Garcia Bernal provide most of the show’s charm, which manages to be intelligent but not pretentious. (Okay, sometimes it’s pretentious, but it’s also delightful and really hits its stride in season 2.)


If you had any kind of opinion on the Vogue issue that had Kimye on the cover…

The First Monday in May: Depending on your perspective this is either an insightful documentary raising questions about powerful women, contemporary Orientalism, and the definition of art as it relates to fashion… or a two-hour commercial for Vogue and the Met. Best when enjoyed with a glass of wine.


Bookmarked 9.9.16

*Just a quick aside: If you subscribe (Yay! Thank you!) and get my posts emailed to you, the videos I embed in the text may not come through so everything is linked in the text.

If you have a lot of really quiet time on your hands (or a long road trip)…

The Revolutions Podcast: A relaxing lecture-style podcast that discusses the history of (you guessed it) different revolutions, one war at a time. It begins with the English Civil War, but the third season on the French Revolution is the most interesting by far. (Just trust me on this. There’s really no cool way to describe it, but it’s worth checking out.)

Revolutions Podcast (You can also subscribe with the iPhone podcast app)

Because he’s now on Broadway…

John Mulaney- The Top Half: This is one of Mulaney’s earlier stand-up routines, but it makes me laugh every time. (Fun fact: he co-created the character Stefon with Bill Hader at Saturday Night Live.) You can find the entire set here or just his seven minute bit on Jerry Orbach’s eye donor romantic comedy here (which is the best part if you ask me).


If you want to feel fancy the next time you buy cheap bodega wine…

Somm & Somm: Into the Bottle: Both of these documentaries are on Neflix, and while you can watch them in either order, I’d recommend watching Somm first. It chronicles four men as they compete to become Master Sommeliers, and if you ever thought you knew wine, you don’t. The second discusses making, bottling, and selling wine. Who knew Chardonay goes so well with buttered popcorn?



If you’ve been meaning to watch that Nina Simone doc on Netflix…

Laura Mvula: I never really trust my taste in music when recommending stuff to non-Broadway musical geeks, but Mvula is objectively fantastic. I’ve heard her compared to Nina Simone several times, but I wouldn’t really know because I haven’t, you know, seen that documentary.



Scatter My Ashes at Hartsfield-Jackson

For the third time this year I found myself in the Atlanta airport. Which was fine because being there usually means an adventure is unfolding. When you live in a small southern town like Montgomery, it’s common to fly through Atlanta before going anywhere else. So much so I’m sure that when I die, my soul will pass through Hartsfield-Jackson before going on its way. The flight between Montgomery and Atlanta is absurdly quick — only about 45 minutes. By the time the person who dropped you off is home, your taxiing into the gate. But suddenly you’re an hour in the future so isn’t that nice? 

I haven’t seen enough airports to tell you if ATL is objectively elegant, but I’ve always liked it. It’s spread out over several terminals that are separate long buildings that are joined by the underground “Plane Train” (who doesn’t love a good rhyme?). Basically it’s easy to navigate and the separate terminals allows for a maximum plane capacity– an efficient design that I admire. 

I enjoyed a disgusting breakfast from Subway because who says 8 AM is too early for a turkey sandwich with possibly expired American cheese. De-lish!

With CNN playing away in the background, I boarded my next flight. (I’m not proud to tell you it took me a looong time to realize they exclusively play CNN in the Delta terminals because they’re both Atlanta-based companies. Same for the Coke products on their planes.)

Have I even mentioned where I was going yet? I don’t think I did. But I’ll give you a hint that I’m in an “empire state of mind…” and they’ll “remember me to Herald Square…”

New York. I’m going to New York. 

So we landed in LaGuardia after a delightfully uneventful flight. I got into a cab and went to my hotel: The Library. 

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with the Travel Channel, back when it was more than an alternative to the Food Network. And there was one host whose job I wanted more than anyone else’s: Samantha Brown, a perky 30-something blonde woman who always looked dressed by The Gap. She had a show called “Great Hotels,” and I wanted to be her. Years ago she visited The Library Hotel where the floors and rooms are based on the Dewey Decimal system. It’s beautiful and bookish and I got to stay there my first night in Manhattan. 

I got there before my room was ready, so I stowed my bags and went upstairs to their lounge with tea, coffee, and books. I sat and enjoyed the quiet of the room for a while and then started getting a little bored. So I put on some non blister-inducing shoes, grabbed my smaller purse that doesn’t weigh a ton and went to the New York Public Library which, wouldn’t you know it, was across the street. 

I got inside, passed the tourists, and got a library card, like a good little English major. Despite getting ninety minutes of sleep the night before, I was suddenly wide awake (a new library card will do that to ya). So I thought, “You know what would be fun? A brisk stroll thirty blocks downtown.” So I set off to The Stand bookstore. 

The Strand is fabulous (please hire me!). I think I went through every shelf a least three times and obviously bought several titles (it would have been rude not to) as well as a tote bag to tell locals even faster, “Hi, I’m a tourist.” But by the the fourth round on the basement floor, jet lag caught up with me hard. So I staggered zombie-like into the street, hailed a cab to the warm bed waiting for me. 

Which it was. I stayed in room 904, putting me on the ninth floor (history and geography) in the fourth room– Asian history so the bookshelves were full of books on (you guessed it) Asian history. I took a few minutes to explore the volumes and them promptly passed out on the bed for a solid nap, having left CNN and the Plane Train behind hours ago.