Remember the YouTube video “So Your Cat Wants a Massage?” In it, a woman wearing a lively floral and leopard-print pantsuit instructs viewers on how, exactly, to perform said massage. “Use two hands to double your pleasure and double your fun!” she says, among other gems. It’s hard to believe that it’s real, but it’s harder to imagine how anyone could spin something so absurd into video gold. Fortunately, the guys behind Everything Is Terrible have made that their life’s goal.
Dimitri Simakis and Nic Maier — aka “Ghoul Skool” and “Commodore Gilgamesh,” who conceived of the website Everything Is Terrible while “sitting around on couches” in college in the early 2000s — are the self-described “psychedelic soldiers” of VHS. They journey to thrift stores, dig up all the commercials, how-to videos, TV shows, and B movies they can find, then either mash them up or present them in full every day on their website. The snippets are ridiculous, to be sure, but the real reason behind their success is that they always manage to show just how much our culture has changed over the past couple decades. As such, bonus points go to anything from the Nineties discussing the exciting possibilities afforded us by the magic of The Internet.
Beyond their cult online following, Simakis, Maier, and their rotating cast of friends/helpers also perform live shows, where they present collages of their favorite finds. And, for the past five years, they’ve produced a Holiday Special featuring (you guessed it) absurd holiday videos. Catch them on Saturday, December 8, performing “Everything Is Terrible Holiday 2012: Cataclysmic Transformation” at ABCo Artspace (3135 Filbert St., Oakland).
“It’s really just the absolute worst Christmas videos made in the spirit of the holidays,” said Maier. But finding treasure in holiday footage is a harder feat than they’d imagined. To identify pieces to use in “Cataclysmic Transformation,” Maier and Simakis had to dig through more than 1,000 video sources. “Hallmark and ABC Family will just make the same holiday special year after year. It’s so formulaic, it makes it harder to find any horrible mistakes.”
But they found them. From Nazi elves to erotic Santas, Everything Is Terrible’s Holiday Specials have featured an array of “misplaced sentimentalities” for the holidays, mostly from children’s specials from the Eighties and Nineties and various super-low-budget productions. And this year, the team is ramping up the performance aspect for its thirty-city US tour: In addition to premiering its new hour-long film, it’s also incorporating other live-performance elements into the show. The end result is something “you just have to see,” but involves a Winter Wonderland-ish set, life-size puppets, and lots of fake snow. The spectacle, it seems, will be out-spectacled. 10 p.m., $10. EverythingIsTerrible.com