Madison should be well acquainted with the Found Footage Festival by now. A pair of Stoughton natives started the touring comedy show five years ago, and it's stopped here more than once. But Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett promise that when they bring their comedy show back for two performances at the Orpheum next Saturday, Dec. 12, as part of their latest national tour, they'll have plenty of fresh material.
"It's all new," Prueher says. "Every time we go on tour, it's with an entirely new program of videos. It's stuff we've basically found over the past year."
The concept behind the show - inspired by a love affair with a McDonald's training video Prueher found nearly 20 years ago - is simple. The two men stitch together a series of clips from so-bad-they're-good VHS tapes, and supplement the already humorous scenes with their own patter.
"One of my current favorites is this raw footage from a local furniture commercial from south Texas," Prueher says. "It's this guy who calls himself 'Bargain Bernie,' and he's probably a really good waterbed salesman, just not the best on-air talent. He has this catchphrase, and he keeps spouting it over and over again, trying to get it right, and he just can't do it."
Other highlights of the 90-minute show include "a montage of terrible Saturday morning cartoons that don't come close to holding up," such as ProStars, featuring Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky and Bo Jackson. "When they weren't playing their sports, they were a crime-fighting team," Prueher says.
That sort of fare has proved popular enough with audiences that the festival has turned into a full-time gig for Prueher and Pickett, who are now headquartered in New York City. Prueher left his job at The Colbert Report and Pickett traded in his at The Onion to do this tour, which will run about seven months.
Don't think for a second that it's a painless gig. The two have to sift through hours and hours of footage to find their material, before getting down to the work of editing the clips into a full program.
"I wouldn't wish it on anybody to sit through what we have to," Prueher says.
Is he worried that as VHS tapes become more sparse, their stock-in-trade will become tougher to find?
"The production values change, but the bad ideas don't," Prueher says. "As long as people with terrible ideas have access to some kind of video equipment, I don't think we'll ever run out."