Tuesday, May 19, 2015
See Bill Hader and Fred Armisen channel the women of Grey Gardens in IFC's Documentary Now!
“From ew, Authentic. Loving. Celebratory. Time-specific.” That’s how Fred Armisen describes Documentary Now!, an IFC comedy (debuting Aug. 20) that spoofs and pays tribute to the genre with a six-episode showcase of mockumentaries about fictitious historical subjects (often rooted in real life), each unspooled in a different filmmaking style.
Armisen and Bill Hader star in each half-hour doc while serving as creator/executive producer/writers alongside fellow SNL vet Seth Meyers. The SNL connection extends to another executive producer (Lorne Michaels) as well as the show’s directors (Rhys Thomas and Alex Buono). And it was on that sketch show that the seeds for Documentary Now! were planted—specifically with “Ian Rubbish and the Bizzaros: History of Punk,” a faux doc about a British punk band starring Armisen and Hader.
“IFC had always liked the Ian Rubbish thing and originally approached us about doing more of his story,” says “Rubbish” writer Meyers. “But we were really happy with how that had been a piece, and we didn’t really know anything more we wanted to say about Ian, whereas exploring other things like that was more interesting to us.”
And this show shares a similar comedy aesthetic with “Ian Rubbish.” “There really is no big joke in Ian Rubbish, “ says Armisen, “and that’s where we came from—where this isn’t a total punchline to any of it.” Hader, meanwhile, enjoyed trying on a series of disparate characters with his SNL co-star outside of their usual sketch playground. “It was fun for me and Fred because we never viewed it as more of a sketch show,” he says. “They were totally separate short films, but we get to play characters that have an A, B, and C story rather than a quick sketch character. There are sketches that are pretty over the top in it, but it was nice to get to play something over a full episode.”