Everything is Terrible! might not sound like an online destination for nostalgia, but it is — at least warped nostalgia.
The Los Angeles-based video blogging website re-edits and reimagines obscure, often awful VHS clips, mostly from the ’80s and ’90s. These aerobics workouts, infomercials, kids’ shows — and that classic “So Your Cat Wants a Massage?” video — are jaw-dropping and hilarious. They sometimes tap into wistful feelings about simpler eras. Yet “sad” and “depressing” also are words used to describe the demented genius of the Terrible! collective.
Hurtling through time and space, Everything is Terrible! provides running commentary on humanity.
“I know we use nostalgia, and it’s super effective as a tool to bring people in,” explains co-founder Commodore Gilgamesh, phoning from a tour stop. “But there’s a lot of stuff that’s nostalgic.”
A list of memory-triggering “Saved By the Bell” moments published by Buzzfeed would be an example of typical Internet nostalgia bait. “It’s just a list of clips,” he explains. “We’re more about picking things apart and turning them into — I hate to say cultural criticism or anything dumb like that, but it’s definitely in there.”
Gilgamesh and two Terrible! collective members will visit the Crazy Horse, 1519 W. Main St., Boise, on June 1 (9:30 p.m., $8, Brown Paper Tickets). It’s part of their “Everything is Terrible! Legends” tour. (Incidentally, the fact that crazyhorseboise.com now redirects to a Christian prayer website somehow feels like Everything is Terrible! fodder.)
Seeing Everything is Terrible! on tour is as much an interactive theater experience as a video party.
“The live experience is very huge for us, where we build these giant, elaborate costumes ourselves, and then we interact with the video,” Gilgamesh says. “We create this whole physical world around the ideas in the clips. This specific show is kind of our own spiritual/self-improvement/you’re going to get more money/have more sex/be happier seminar — wrapped around all these clips that we are showing.”
There is no shortage of “best of” material. The three-DVD set of “Everything is Terrible! Legends” is more than 16 hours long.
You can watch “Everything is Terrible! The Movie” (2009) on YouTube. It begins with a 6-minute barrage of local-TV anchors talking about supposed Christ-image sightings — including KIVI Channel 6’s Michelle Edmonds saying, “Finally tonight, a man in Kentucky says he’s got a spoonful of Jesus.”
Launched in 2007, Everything is Terrible! actually could have used some divine intervention along the way. After the site posted a “Yogi Oki Doki” clip of a beyond-freaky yoga show for children, YouTube yanked the Everything is Terrible! page for supposed copyright violations, Gilgamesh says. Everything is Terrible! lost about a million subscribers, he adds.
To avoid such heavy reliance on YouTube, the Terrible! team now uploads to multiple platforms. Yet it’s interesting how copyright enforcement has evolved since Everything is Terrible! started.
“In the beginning, everyone got mad at us,” Gilgamesh admits. “And now people understand that this is just the evolution of the thing that they made. It’s out there, and the Internet is going to turn it into memes ... and mashups and funny rap songs. That’s just how the world works now.”
The potential source material will never be fully tapped, either.
“That’s why I think the word ‘everything’ is so important in our name,” he says. “It’s never going to end. Even, like, the tapes that I physically own in my office, I feel like I’ve gone through 10 percent.
“It’s also moving,” he adds. “We’ve done it for seven years, and newer stuff is becoming more appropriate. So stuff from the early 2000s, we’re getting into now. I think most of us have moved out of a lot of the ’80s stuff.”
It’s reassuring to know that if we take a photo or video today — especially with one of those moronic selfie sticks — we will appear terrible in 15 years. The future’s sense of humor is irrepressible.
New Downtown Boise pub Prost! plans to open June 2 at 274 N. 8th St. with a dozen German beers on tap. ... Indie-rockers Modest Mouse, who sold out Outlaw Field last summer, will return there Aug. 26. ... Ex-Boisean John Nemeth, who sold out the Sapphire Room last week, won Soul Blues Album of the year at the 36th annual Blues Music Awards earlier this month. The album? “Memphis Grease,” which gives you a hint where he lives.
Michael Deeds’ entertainment column runs Fridays in Scene and every other Sunday in Explore.