A Puppet Aerobics show teaches us how to stretch our fabricated limbs while praising Jesus. A woman demonstrates how to have cybersex with strangers, and somehow manages to make it sound boring. A guy in a thong dances in front of nine baffled senior citizens. Wait … what the hell am I watching?!
Dude, you’re watching The Found Footage Festival!
A perennial CUFF favourite, The Found Footage Festival continues to dredge up unbelievable weirdness from forgotten VHS tapes found in garage sales and thrift stores. There’s more to it than just finding footage, of course; curators Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher edit all the dead weight out of their bizarre finds and present us with only the best moments of peak absurdity, along with hilarious running commentary.
We spoke with FFF co-creator Nick Prueher about the new online-only version of the popular event.
“We would love to be there in person downing Tubby Dogs and stuffing ourselves with sugary breakfast cereals, but our new virtual program is the next best thing. Joe and I are assembling a show just for CUFF called Tape Trading Classics, where we’ll resurrect all the videos that made their way from weirdo to weirdo in the ’80s and pre-internet ’90s.”
Naturally, the COVID-19 pandemic has put a damper on the live shows. “The pandemic hit us really hard because we were on tour in the UK when it hit and had to fly home early and cancel nearly 80 tour dates in 2020. To make up for it, we’ve been doing four shows a week online and a handful of paid webinars over Zoom,” says Prueher.
“We’ve got our health, but we’re close to circling the drain. The good news is that Joe is now fully vaccinated thanks to his high blood pressure and I’m hoping to get the shots in May, so hopefully we’ll be able to hit the road again later this year.”
Meanwhile, lots of tantalizing new content has appeared on the website foundfootagefest.com including Zoom shows called VCR Party Live and Shaturday Morning Cartoons, a show that includes old howlers like Chuck Norris Karate Kommandos.
“VCR Party is our flagship YouTube show, where Joe and I and special guests watch clips from the videos we’ve found each week.” explains Nick. “Shaturday Morning Cartoons started during the pandemic and we’re keeping it as a regular show. Essentially, we pick out a forgotten cartoon from the golden age of Saturday morning cartoons and eat disgusting cereals like Chocolate Churros while offering commentary. I’ve learned a lot (about) ’80s animation, specifically that there’s always a trap door and that Frank Welker does a voice in every cartoon.”
There’s more. “I’ve started an ALF rewatch show on YouTube called Willie’s Garage. We’re 20 episodes into Season 1, and have about 82 episodes left to watch. The sole goal of the show is to get ALF on it, so I hope people will watch and garner enough viewership to make that happen! For now, though, it’s a lot of me showing off my collection of ALF memorabilia, including an ALF fur coat I made using 71 Burger King ALF puppets.” The mind boggles.
That sounds like a busy enough schedule, but Prueher has also found the time to invent his own brand new board game: Dream Crush. And no, it isn’t about crushing dreams.
“While thrifting for VHS tapes, I often head over to the used board game section and, several years ago, I started picking up all those day-glo pink slumber games from the ’80s and ’90s: Dream Phone, Girl Talk, HeartThrob. These games were taboo to boys growing up but it turns out the basic idea behind them was a lot of fun and we were missing out! The problem was that they were woefully out-of-date in terms of gender politics and modern dating tropes.
“I got a printer and some scissors and made a homebrew game called Dream Crush, where you pick your favourite crush based on secrets you learn about them, then guess who your friends will pick.
“It leads to some really interesting discussions. Could you date someone who called their co-workers ‘rock stars?’ What if they were still going through a ska phase? For me, that’s a plus, but for some people that’s a deal breaker. So, yes, you may find your dream crush in the box, but your dreams may also be crushed as you learn more about them — just like real life!”
The Found Footage Festival will have a live screening Thursday, April 29 at 7 p.m., and check out the Dream Crush game at mondoshop.com/products/dream-crush.