Anyone who has watched a terrible movie knows that video-production inexperience rears its head unmercifully when cameras are rolling. This phenomenon is apparent in the rash of instructional videos, home movies, exercise videos and other ill-advised ideas that evolved when videotape made production more affordable.
Many of these tapes were forgotten and discarded after the novelty wore off; some made their way to thrift stores and junk shops across the country—and they occasionally find their way into the hands of comedy writers Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett. As childhood friends, the two collected absurd videos with an appetite. They began regularly compiling the strangest moments from their massive collections into 90-minute programs that highlight some of the weirder concepts and poorer performances ever recorded on VHS. Networks of likeminded people sell and trade these types of footage collections, but Pickett and Prueher take the concept a step further by showcasing their collections to live audiences around the country—and incorporating the audience's energy into the presentations.
The two have always presented their compilations to a Tucson crowd, and Pickett and Prueher brought their fifth collection of clips to town last Saturday night. Last year, a DVD of Volume 4 was shot at the Loft. This year, a second show was added to accommodate anxious fans.
The 10 p.m. show conveyed the vibe of a night in a friend's living room. Pickett and Prueher contextualized their video finds with stories about how the videos were acquired and jokes about the poor quality and misguided concepts.
Their most recent montage includes confounding videos such as a virtual friend who is meant to interact with the viewer through the television, and a "how to" video hosted by Exorcist actress Linda Blair that features tips on seeking revenge. Excerpts from exercise videos and public-access shows from around the country were also included; both have become Found Footage Festival standbys.
While the footage is generally hilarious on its own, Pickett and Prueher guided the rowdy audience through the subtleties of some of the more eclectic clips with a kind-spirited demeanor. As ringmasters, the two exuded a great reverence for a time in history when VHS ruled the land.