After a Strangely Local Legal Battle, the Found Footage Festival Is Back
In 2017, last time the Found Footage Festival was in town, they got served with papers at their show at The Oxbow Hotel for a lawsuit from WEAU-TV’s owner. Basically the duo (both UW-Eau Claire grads) Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett booked themselves on a morning news broadcast as a fictional strongman duo Chop & Steele, doing all kinds of ridiculous workouts using stuff like tennis rackets, twigs from the parking lot, Easter baskets, and jugs of “turbo gravy.” The joke was lost on WEAU’s parent company, Gray Television, in what Fast Company magazine called “the dumbest First Amendment battle” of the year.
After a long year of legal proceedings, the parties reached a settlement, and now the Found Footage Festival is back to doing what they do best: scouring the country’s thrift stores for VHS gold, the long-lost cringe from workout videos, home videos, self-help miscellany, animals, and literally anything you can imagine and beyond. Prueher and Pickett are cassette tape archaeologists whose life’s work is finding gloriously terrible footage in the most unlikely places, editing it together, and creating a live show they bring all over America. And they’re finally returning to Eau Claire to debut the ninth volume of the Found Footage Festival on Dec. 2 at 7pm at Downtown Cinema.
This new show will feature some unearthed footage from the 1987 Miss Junior America Wisconsin pageant, an exercise video called “Skiercise!,” a public access show featuring Madison street musician Art Paul Schlosser, as well as a local news story about Pudgie Wudgie the Wonder Cat. And, of course, the duo will screen some cringe-worthy courtroom footage of their legal depositions in the Chop & Steele lawsuit.
If you’ve never seen the Found Footage Festival live, now’s the time to do it. The antics and absurdities from the VHS era are easy to forget in today’s world, but when curated by two hard-working comedic geniuses, it makes for pure, timeless laughs.
Tickets for the Found Footage Festival: Volume 9 at Downtown Cinema on Dec. 2 are on sale now at www.foundfootagefest.com or at the box office. Tickets are $13.