At JFL NorthWest, comic trio celebrates truly terrible cinema with How Did This Get Made?

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      Masochistic as it might sound, there are those among us who not only love totally atrocious movies, but go to great lengths to seek them out. So while some folks want two hours of their life back after sitting through Gordon Gekko’s return inWall Street: Money Never Sleeps or 1996’s reviled-on-Rotten-Tomatoes The Adventures of Pinocchio, the three comedians behind the long-running podcast How Did This Get Made? see things differently. For Jason Mantzoukas, Paul Scheer, and June Diane Raphael, the only thing more fascinating than an unmitigated cinematic disaster is wondering who thought making the film was a good idea.

      “The idea for How Did This Get Made? started out at a party that we were all at,” says Mantzoukas, speaking to the Straight on a conference call with Scheer. “We were having a conversation about Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. You had a group of hilarious comedians talking about this outrageously bad movie, and it was really funny. From there, we started thinking about how talking about bad movies on a podcast could really work.”

      How Did This Get Made? launched in 2010 with Scheer, Mantzoukas, and Raphael wondering who the hell green-lighted Burlesque, starring Cher and Christina Aguilera.

      “When we started out the podcast, it wasn’t in a time when people even cared about podcasts,” Scheer remembers. “So it wasn’t ‘Oh my gosh, I hope this works.’ It was more ‘We should try this because it’s going to be fun.’ ”

      Conversation subthreads on that first episode covered everything from the baffling endurance of burlesque to why no one in the film seems to own a cellphone or a computer. Since then, the three bad-movie buffs—along with a long list of guests, ranging from Vanilla Ice to Amy Schumer to Charlize Theron—have dissected well over 200 films, some famously big-budget (Con Air, Fast & Furious 6) and others notoriously bargain-bin (Leprechaun in the Hood Hard Ticket to Hawaii).

      In a perverse way, How Did This Get Made? turns a loving spotlight on films that might otherwise have remained lost to time.

      “For every The Fast and the Furious or The Meg or big blockbuster, there are all these countless weird and crazy movies,” Mantzoukas notes. “Yes, Giorgio [starring Luciano Pavarotti] is one, and the Pinocchio film is one, and Hard Ticket to Hawaii is one. I’d never heard of them, but I’m so happy that I’ve got to see them.”

      The key word there is happy, as both Mantzoukas and Scheer state emphatically that they love the movies that end up on How Did This Get Made?, which aims to be celebratory rather than mean-spirited or nasty. Just as important, the stage version of the podcast—which they’ve taken to venues across North America—targets more than hard-core movie nerds. Witness the way a recent live-in-Chicago episode devoted to the Martin Landau version of Pinocchio started with “Would you rather watch it again or have one hour and 45 minutes of diarrhea?” and ended up with Scheer recounting how his grandmother taught him that latchkey kids who didn’t lock their doors got turned into hamburger by the local butcher. (“As the mother was making hamburgers…the hamburger meat says, ‘Mama…Mama.’ ”)

      “The audience for How Did This Get Made? is pretty split,’ Scheer says. “There are a lot of people who listen to the podcast who don’t watch the movies. They seem to enjoy us talking about movies so they don’t have to put themselves through the misery of watching hundreds of terrible movies. Then there’s another segment of the audience where their whole passion is watching terrible movies. So what’s exciting and great about the show is that it works for both groups.” 

      JFL NorthWest presents How Did This Get Made? at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on February 22.