”Documentary Now!” with Alex Buono, Rhys Thomas & Seth Meyers


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Can we all agree that the date of August 20, 2015 should be enshrined as one of the most important in the history of documentary? In case you’ve forgotten, that’s the date that “Documentary Now!” burst on the scene with the airing of its first episode: “Sandy Passage”, an unforgettable debut starring Fred Armisen and Bill Hader parodying the Maysles’ classic documentary “Grey Gardens”. Somehow, this crew of on and off-camera SNL talent (the show’s co-creators are Armisen, Hader, Seth Meyers, and Rhys Thomas) managed to pull off the not-so-small miracle of parodying the high priests and priestesses of documentary in half-hour masterpieces and, just as miraculously, found a network to actually air the program (IFC, for the record). Fast forward seven years and “Documentary Now!” has just premiered its first episodes of season 4 (actually, season 53 in the bizarre-o world of “Doc Now!”).

Seth, Rhys and Alex Buono (who directs with Rhys and is also the show’s cinematographer) took time away from whatever else they were doing to join Mike and Ken on Top Docs and talk about the collective creative genius (our words, as they are far too modest) behind this unique show. Stay tuned for answers to such questions as: “Why did it take until season 4 (er, 53) to parody the highly imitable Werner Herzog and Les Blank’s portrait of him, “Burden of Dreams”? How did the team find itself on a remote Welsh mountainside trying to build a sitcom set as howling winds threatened to blow the whole thing to smithereens? And what do you say to Cate Blanchett when she asks, “Is it OK if I wear giant Coke bottle glasses?” Join us as we peal back the layers on the show that dances on the line between the sublime and the ridiculous while never straying from its love of documentary. To paraphrase the show’s host, the immortal Helen Mirren, “I give you ‘Documentary Now!’”

Documentary Now! season 4 episodes discussed in this podcast include: “Soldier of Illusion” (written by John Mulaney) (parts 1 and 2), “Two Hairdressers in Bagglyport” (written by Seth Meyers), and “How They Threw Rocks” (written by Seth Meyers)

Documentary Now! can be seen on IFC and streaming on AMC+.

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