Awkward sexual harassment in the workplace reenactment videos, flamboyant 1980s exercise tapes, and ridiculous home movies unite in the latest edition of the Found Footage Festival, a touring collection of discarded video clips that are, usually unintentionally, gut-bustingly funny.
Returning Madison for the third time with their show, Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett meld ironic chuckles with the "old school charm" of stumbling upon strange discoveries.
The Stoughton natives will debut their latest triple-F showcase, featuring brand-new clips interspersed with the duo's live comedy, at the Orpheum Theatre on Friday. Prueher and Pickett both have their backgrounds in comedy -- their funny-man resume credits include The Onion and The Late Show with David Letterman. The pair launched this venture back in 2004 after striking comedic gold -- their discovery of scores of abandoned, donated or chucked VHS tapes throughout Eau Claire and Madison.
"We've got a bunch of new stuff that we're pretty excited about," says Prueher. "We have a collection of videos featuring 'Hunks from the 1980s,' and they all have mustaches and are wearing acid-wash jeans, so we compiled them into a section called California Big Hunks. It's horrifying and yet you can't look away."
Prueher also describes footage featuring a pro-wrestling tag team from Tennessee named The Fabulous Ones. "It's an introduction video they would use to intimidate their opponents. They're in a bunch of homoerotic poses in a barn, sipping wine," he laughs. "Yes, so, very intimidating obviously."
The audience can also look forward to a three-minute montage drawn from 17 workplace sexual harassment reenactment videos, even more side-splitting exercise footage, and an instructional clip on how to toilet train cats, along with a scripted video bit starring comedian Chris Elliot.
The Found Footage Festival has blown up since its founding and the pair receives scores of suggested videos annually, explained Prueher. But the fest was originally born out of his and Pickett's strange love for Madison public access television and the bizarre material that is often broadcast on stations around the country. In fact, after an interview with The Daily Page last summer, the pair was contacted by Mark Huntsman, the "precocious" 10-year-old star of "One Kid's Opinion," a video review of Disneyland that aired on WYOU in the early '90s.
"Huntsman himself contacted us and was really tickled by the fact that this video was being shown," notes Prueher in an email, "he had fond memories of this somewhat embarrassing piece of videotape." This one-time talk show even gave a higher-quality version of the clip on DVD to the festival, and both organizers hope to get him to appear at a show someday.
"That was a pretty special moment for us because that was one of the earliest videos we had ever found," concludes Prueher. "We couldn't believe this guy we used to watch on cable access was alive and knew about us and thought it was funny. It was like finding the lost Citizen Kane footage or something. It was amazing."
A new trailer for the FFF gives a taste of what's in store at the show.
The homecoming screening of the 2008 Found Footage Festival will be at the Orpheum Theatre on Friday, June 27, with two shows at 7 and 9 p.m. Tickets are $10, and can be purchased online. No one under 16-years-old will be admitted.