Found Footage Festival 2012

FFF 75Any self-respecting lover of seeing weird shit with a crowd should put the Found Footage Festival at the top of their list.


FFF ferret-fun

After about a year and a half absence (which feels long for them), this coming Tuesday (10/2) Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett are returning to the Mad Art Gallery with this year’s installation of their Found Footage Festival. The FFF is a curated program of the goofiest shit they’re able to find on abandoned VHS tapes at rural thrift stores, and this year’s edition, their sixth, has some of their best stuff yet.

I wrote when they came in April of last year about Nick and Joe’s technique: They extensively tour the United States (they’re going to all 50 states this year, and they stop in more than one city in most states; for example, in Missouri they’re doing St. Louis, Columbia, and Kansas City), and while they’re traveling, they raid every yard sale and Goodwill they can find, plus any other place that seems like it might have some weird old tapes. As it turns out, a video they bought in Missouri during last year’s tour, Ferret Fun (1996), made it into this year’s show. It’s ostensibly a pro-ferret video instructing the viewer on the reality of having pet ferrets, but the video makes the reality of having a ferret look like a real horror show. Ferrets are the pet of choice for a number of the editors here at PLAYBACK:stl, but had they seen this video before buying their first, they might’ve thought twice about it. [Ed. note: We wouldn’t have thought twice about the ferret; we would, however, have run screaming from the people who made the video.]

And while Ferret Fun is amusing, it pales in comparison to some of the other videos. The show opener is a craft video called Magical Rainbow Sponge (2000) that features an orgasmic lady smearing rainbows on everything, and toward the end of the program is a horrifying little number called Wound Rounds Live (2011), which is an instructional video for doctors regarding wound care, but which takes a weirdly jokey tone amid some pretty horrifying footage of wounds unlike any I’ve ever seen. In between comes a pitch for a TV show sent to MTV around 1995 (and which video found its way to Nick and Joe by way of Mike Judge, of Beavis & Butt-head and Office Space fame) called The Chris Tape, which features the stoned ramblings of a sickly fellow who thinks he’s Jesus. (Seriously.)

But the real gem of FFF6, or of any FFF I’ve seen so far, is a montage of two episodes of a cable access show from California circa 1999 called Dancing with Frank Pacholski, which show seems to have consisted only of watching a somewhat overweight and hairy man in nothing but American flag-patterned underpants and a creepy mask doing weird dances for a group of disinterested geriatrics. It truly has to be seen to be believed, and I probably haven’t laughed so hard since the release of two years ago.

And those are just the highlights. Still elsewhere in the approximately 90-minute program is a business video that instructs you to “Get rid of your ugly friends!,” an instructional video whose purpose is to teach the developmentally disabled how to masturbate (which Joe and Nick seem vaguely ashamed of themselves to be showing), their usual montages of funny VHS covers and exercise videos (this time featuring a couple of particularly vulgar ones), and some other surprises besides. Also, if you haven’t gone to one of these before, it’s worth pointing out that a lot of the fun to be had isn’t so much in the videos themselves all the time as it is the way they are juxtaposed, taken out of context, edited together, and the like—that is to say, they’re made funnier a lot of the time by what you don’t see.

The point is, any self-respecting lover of seeing weird shit with a crowd should put the Found Footage Festival at the top of their list; it’s always a good time, and this year’s is probably the best one I’ve seen yet. | Pete Timmermann

This year’s edition of the Found Footage Festival is at the Mad Art Gallery (2727 S. 12th St. in Soulard) at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 2. Admission is $10. For more information, to buy advance tickets, to buy other stuff, or to just check out some videos, visit

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