IFC has always prided itself on going against the grain—the network proudly boasts the tagline "Always On. Slightly Off." And during its upfront presentation this afternoon, president Jennifer Casserta said something you don't hear many media companies say these days: It doesn't care for millennials.
"We try not even to say that word," she said. "We don't think strictly in terms of demographics or talk about chasing the elusive millennial audience." Instead, Casserta said the network, which has staked its brand on irreverent, offbeat comedies like Portlandia, Comedy Bang! Bang! and Maron, is focusing on one simple goal:
"Make funny stuff with cool people."
So far, that approach has worked out well for IFC. The network is coming off its best March ever and continues to "impact the cultural conversation," said Casserta. "When a bird lands on Bernie [Sanders'] podium, thanks to Portlandia, America immediately puts a Bern on it"
— Portlandia (@portlandia) March 25, 2016
The sketch comedy series will head into its seventh season this year, making it one of cable's longest-running comedy series. Also returning for IFC will be Maron for a fourth season and Comedy Bang! Bang! for its fifth season, again with a new co-host for Scott Aukerman. After Kid Cudi replaced Reggie Watts, who is now James Corden's band leader on CBS' Late Late Show, Weird Al Yankovic will join the show this season, which will air its 100th episode. Guest for this year include Kevin Bacon, Tony Hale, Kayley Cuoco, and Andy Samberg's comedy troupe The Lonely Island.
What's ahead for Documentary Now?
Also returning this year for a second is Documentary Now, the spoof series from Seth Meyers, Bill Hader and Fred Armisen. Meyers was on hand today and gave a small glimpse into what they have planned for Season 2. "This year we're giving them marketing goals such as black and white documentary, and one that's entirely in Spanish," quipped Meyers, who after complimenting IFC's hands-off approach, said, "We have repaid them with giving them so much that is impossible to market."
Meyers said they've filmed a few episodes for the new season, which is going to include a second send-up of a Maysles brothers film. After spoofing Grey Gardens in its first episode last season, Documentary Now will spoof the filmmakers' 1960s-era documentary Salesman, about a door-to-door Bible salesman. The episode will be called Globesman, which follows a quartet of door-to-door globe salesmen in 1960s Minnesota.
Also planned this season is a spoof of The War Room, about Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign, with The Bunker, and a food doc called Juan Likes Chicken and Rice, which was filmed in Colombia.
New series for IFC
IFC will debut a pair of new series over the next year. John C. McGinley is leading Stan Against the World, written and produced by Dana Gould, with The Walking Dead's special effects maven Greg Nicotero on board as well. And the show Brockmire, debuting in early 2017, stars Hank Azaria as an old-timey baseball announcer who tries to restart his career following an infamous on-air meltdown.
The series is based on a Funny or Die short of the same name.
IFC also has eight scripted projects in development, which hail from the likes of Bryan Cranston, Steven Weber, Allison Anders, Above Average, and Catastrophe's Sharon Horgan; those join previously announced series Jon Benjamin's 100 Erotic Nights and The Jim Norton Project (working title).
Comedy Crib, IFC's digital hub for short-form comedy, is getting its own late-night TV block during the fourth quarter—it's a "best of" version of the online series.
Shows moving from web to TV
Kim Granito, svp, digital media and integrated marketing at IFC, mentioned that with so many of IFC's shows originating online—Comedy Bang! Bang! and Maron started as podcasts, Brockmire was a Funny or Die short, and Portlandia started as a web project—the network is looking for a brand partner for its next web-to-TV project.
"This is really why we're doubling down on our investment for original series for the web," said Granito. "We're looking for one partner to come on board, not just for the late night block but for the entire digital development process," said Granito. The brand would be involved in the content from its start on Comedy Crib, to the best-of-late-night block. Then, "should that series go to greenlight, that brand would be the presenting sponsor," said Granito, noting Subaru's success as an early partner with Portlandia.
IFC will also launch on Apple TV and Roku later this year.
In another move, the network has partnered with four of the biggest comedy festivals in the country. IFC will be the presenting sponsor for the Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival, and "spokesperson" Langston Kerman will travel to a trio of comedy festivals on his bike to bring viewers behind-the-scenes content: Austin's Moontower Comedy & Oddity Fest; Brooklyn Comedy Festival; and Los Angeles' Festival Supreme.