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Thursday, September 16, 2010

He's Got a TV Eye

chatting with TV Carnage's Derrick Beckles

Posted By on Thu, Sep 16, 2010 at 1:18 PM


Listen up, nerds. Did you watch Double Complete Rainbow more than five times? Do you routinely giggle at the Grape Crushing Lady? Do you find yourself awake late at night, hunched over your kitchen table half-drunk, watching Best Cry Ever , your face frozen in a rictus of fascination and fear?

If you answered yes to any of the above, you should probably be going to see TV Carnage live at Gus' Pub this Friday, September 17. The man behind TV Carnage, Derrick Beckles, was trading bad video and TV clips on VHS tapes when you were just a fontanelle with eyes.
He describes his live presentations as a gathering of "an extended family of funny people" and will be playing a lot of new stuff - just for you! He's also showing his latest TV Carnage compilation, Let's Work It Out - an assemblage of terrible workout clips through the ages. Here's some of the things he said that didn't make it into the print edition, most because of space (and salaciousness, ooh!)

How's the TV Carnage tour going?

It's been a lot of fun. I've met a lot of weirdoes. 90 percent of the shows are pretty packed. Chicago was a dud though - this weird flop. But mostly it's been really good.

What's your audience like, generally?

Mostly the elderly. Pregnant women. In Houston this girl came up afterwards and was like, "During your show, you mentioned you went out with a stripper. Well, I'm a stripper." So we went and partied with her friends. There was this guy with a heart defibrillator. Just amazing awesome weirdoes. But it's generally a weird cross-section of people - you know, stoners, people who look like they spend a lot of time in front of their computers, and then you get these bookish guys who look like they write for the Atlantic every week. Everyone's really interesting. I try not to judge a book by its cover, but the covers do help.

In Halifax there's a regular event where people show funny clips and talk about them. Did you know when you first started doing this that you were kind of the Grandfather of Youtube? Were you surprised when viral video culture became such a thing?

Well, when we started out, I didn't have any presumptions about it. It was just my friend Jesse and I in Toronto trading tapes in high school. It was like the last of the pre-Internet frontier. It's how I saw Winnebago Man. It's how I first saw Heavy Metal Parking Lot. We would record stuff off the TV and trade it.

Winnebago Man

Heavy Metal Parking Lot

I knew people were doing it everywhere, I respected that. There’s too many suburban wastelands, too many funny bored minds. When you’re a teenager and you see adults trying to be cool, it’s so awesome. Seeing adults trying to one-up you, you’re like, "You fucking loser." All these succulent mistakes that adults made. I was this punk rock kid at my school and I was like, "I hate normal people" and we were always hunting for this stuff. I never thought it would become what it is now. People are always fascinated with watching themselves, like on America's Funniest Home Videos, but this is more specific. (With bad TV) there's still someone out there creating a narrative, and agreeing to get involved. There's so many places where people could hit the big red stop button and go "What exactly am I doing?" I never expected it to be as big as it is. It’s the new vinyl - I go to thrift stores looking for VHS now and see nerd kids in there doing the same thing.

What do you think when people start taking that idea and running with it? What do you think about, say, Tosh.O?

I think he exists and words come out of his mouth. (Laughs.) You know what's funny? And I'm not bitter about this or anything, and I don't give a fuck if it sounds bitter, but I pitched that exact same idea in Canada, and people were like, "No, it's not going to work." So now when I watch Tosh.O, I get a bit of a twitch in my face. He does have decent writers working for him, which certainly helps what he's doing.

Have you ever tracked someone from one of your videos down in real life?

There was a news clip with this intrepid reporter yelling at a guy, this polltaker, and he flies into this weird rage and punches her in the face. So he's in trouble. They go to his house to mix it up with him, and the reporter is here in her trenchcoat, and you realize right away that he's quite deranged. He's the Rain Man. So the reporter is asking him all these questions, and she's very obviously trying to nail him for being an idiot, and he starts doing all these WWF poses. Anyway, I found him and left some messages for him. He lives in Buffalo. We're going to do something with him - he's pretty into it.

I've noticed a lot of your clips are older as opposed to using newer TV shows. How do you draw the line between TV that's unintentionally awful or hilarious and stuff that seems deliberately terrible, like Jersey Shore?

Well, TV's kind of the same as its always been. You have have your colossal pieces of shit that everyone laps up, like Everybody Loves Raymond. And with reality TV, it's like shooting fish in a thimble, isn't it? The stuff that everybody freaks out about is usually pretty apparent. I'm constantly taping new TV - the interns help me out with that, thank God - but I still have a lot of stuff to pick from. The next TV Carnage I'm putting out is over ten years of TV taping that I haven't yet unleashed. It's going to be a stroll through the late 90s, in a way. You keep forgetting that there are these garbage trucks of shows pulling up every week. Even the popular stuff, you forget how shitty it is sometimes.

What are your live shows like, exactly?

I'm going to design a lot of new stuff for the Halifax show. You guys deserve it, dammit! I show Let's Work It Out, which is an hour. Sometimes I get this vibe that the crowd needs a refresher course, so usually I play a couple of things that really resonate and are popular. Probably Liberace. I've been obsessed with him lately. But it's easy to be obsessed with Liberace. Anyway, I like to hold my cards close to my chest. I don't want to show all the magic tricks.

What else are you doing in your life? We know you directed that Islands music video...I understand the jacket Michael Cera is wearing is yours.

Yes. That jacket has amazing badges. Someone gave it to me. I think it will be cold enough in Halifax that I can wear it, but it's a Winnipeg exclusive.
I keep talking to new fancy people and doing writing for a couple of shows here and there, but I think most of it will be with Adult Swim. It's a really great opportunity. And it's funny - when I go to hang out there with people I used to trade stuff with like Tim and Eric or whoever, these people who were friends of mine forever and I notice we've all ended up going through Adult Swim. I'm not comparing myself to John Belushi, but there's a quote where he said he would look around and see all the dudes he worked with, and he was like, "Wow. My friends and I get to do all this weird stuff for a huge audience." I'm fine with that.
Now I'm just listing things I'm doing. Boring. Next question!

Okay, let's talk about videos now. What about that "Oh, my following?" clip that's at the end of every TV Carnage video right now? Where is that from?

(scroll to 1:09)

It's from this horror movie called Girls Night Out. It is an example of a movie that made me laugh my ass off. It is a shitty horror movie, surprise surprise.

That Walker, Texas Ranger clip is also very good. I thought Conan had run the best Walker clips into the ground, but I've never seen this one before.

I have every episode of Walker burned. I enjoy it. I love Chuck Norris. I love all action heroes in general, especially the 80s ones. Have you seen that movie, the Expendables or the Impenetrables or whatever? My friend and I snuck into it before sneaking into Scott Pilgrim and within two seconds we were losing it, heckling at the screen. That movie has to be funded by Botox. Those men are all gorgeous. They are the most gorgeous women I have ever seen in my life. We were like, "That's it, that's all we need to know. When you're that gorgeous, you can't lose." I wonder if anyone has the balls to tell them how much they shockingly look like transvestites.


TV Carnage happens Friday, September 17th at Gus' Pub starting at 10:30. You can get tickets here or at Obsolete Records in advance for $8 - it's $10 at the door.

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