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Fest features 'Found' laughs

By Rebecca Brooks
On November 3, 2009

Do you like '80s babes in bikinis using machine guns, an Elvis impersonator explaining how to keep sideburns glued on or hearing Goldie Hawn creepily talk about teenage pregnancy? Then you should check out the Found Footage Festival. On Friday at 9:30 p.m., the festival will begin in Brookline's Coolidge Corner Theater. The festival is a live comedy show that features clips from videos found in secondhand stores and garage sales across the country. Hosted by Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher, who previously worked with The Onion and Late Show with David Letterman, the event will be full of laughs and ridiculous moments. Pickett and Prueher began the show in the early '90s after they came across a training video titled "Inside and Outside Custodial Duties" in a McDonalds restroom in Stoughton, Wis. In an interview with The Onion's A.V. Club, Prueher said the video was "so remarkably dumb in just the right way. I decided that the world needed to see this video. I took it home in my backpack that night and almost immediately showed it to Joe, and we just became obsessed with this tape." Because they were still in high school at the time, they spent many a Friday night popping the video into the VHS player.

Later in the interview, Prueher was asked if there were particular places that had the best videos. Prueher responded, "Goodwill is usually the worst thrift store to find videos. On the other hand, we found that Salvation Armies are great. They don't screen or sift through their videos at all. They just take them straight from people and put them right on the shelf. We've found a lot of our best home movies and training videos and bizarre kung-fu videos at Salvation Armies."

Wanting to share this and other random videos with the world, Pickett and Prueher decided to search the country for more material. In an article in the L.A. Times, Prueher said, "I think the important thing for us is that the films have context. Everybody can get the keyboard cat in their inbox and chuckle and forget about it. But this is footage we have a connection to-we found it. These things would be forgotten if we hadn't dug them up."

According to the festival's Web site,, the footage had to follow three rules: It must be found on a "physical format," it cannot be from YouTube and no Richard Simmons videos. Since 2005, the duo has taken the show on the road and has shown the found footage at hundreds of different locations in the United States, Canada and Europe.

If you do not have time to make it to the festival, the festival's Web site shows clips and trailers from a selection of videos that will be featured at the show. The best way to appreciate the compilation of clips, though, is to attend the show. Tickets are $10 in advance but can also be purchased at the door. Those attending must be at least 18 years of age. Grab your friends or find anyone with a sense of humor, and bring them along for a night of hilarious training videos and awkward dating segments. The Found Footage Festival is something not to miss.

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