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Found Footage Festival delivers humor

BY ERIC HAWKINSON | APRIL 21, 2011 7:20 AM

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Twenty-three years ago on a hot summer day in Iowa, a legendary video clip was born. Founders of the Found Footage Festival Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett have dubbed it “Jack Rebney: The World’s Angriest RV Salesman.”

The clip is a promotional video for Winnebago RVs in which the host continually loses his cool while attempting to read his lines. Prueher and Pickett found the video, compiled all of Rebney’s best cursing tirades, and started showing the clip on their nationwide tour. A documentary filmmaker was inspired by the clips and filmed a movie called Winnebago Guy.

“It made its journey from Iowa to us in Minneapolis to New York, across the country on our tour, across the world on the Internet, and it ended in San Francisco with us meeting him,” Prueher said.

Prueher and Pickett have been searching in the most unlikely places for video gems such as this one since they were growing up in Wisconsin. The Found Footage Festival consists of the two of them traveling across the United States showing audiences the rare but hilarious videos they find. At 9 p.m. Saturday at the Mill, 120 E. Burlington St., the pair will share some of their finds. Admission is $10.

Many of these videos are ones that are never meant to be seen in public venues, such as training and exercise videos. Prueher and Pickett have created a venue of their own in which the clips can’t be seen anywhere else. The obsession began when the two were in high school and Prueher was working at a local McDonald’s.

“He had to watch this video called ‘Inside and Outside Custodial Duties,’ ” Pickett said. “[Prueher] stole the video and brought it home. There’s not a lot to do in small-town Wisconsin, so we watched it over and over again and had a running commentary over it.”

Since then, they’ve looked for videos in break rooms, churches, garage sales, Dumpsters, and thrift stores. Prueher and Pickett have been steadily entertaining audiences since 2004, accomplishing their goal of making people laugh at the comic clips they find.

“People still make stupid exercise videos,” Prueher said. “That trend has not abated, apparently.”

During the show, the pair will introduce the videos giving the back story to the clip and how it was found, which is something viewers don’t get from watching YouTube or “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” Prueher said.

“People in the Midwest get it. I don’t what it is — they have that dryer, more sarcastic sense of humor,” Pickett said. “These are our people. And the Midwest has some of the best videos, too. The thrift stores are not picked over.”


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