Forgotten footage, crazy clips are a hit

Katrina Simyab, Clarion Arts and Culture Editor

Where can you see outdated clips from ridiculous Jazzercise tapes, a portly man in an American flag bikini doing a suggestive dance in front of an audience of elderly people, and segments from informational film on how to seduce women through hypnosis? Answer: the Found Footage Festival!

This event was started by friends Joe Pikett and Nick Prueher in 1991. Both men were brought together by their strange fascination with really weird forgotten footage.

After randomly finding an old VHS tape entitled “Inside and Outside Custodial Duties” in a back room at their local McDonald’s, the friends were determined to find even more crazy clips to share with the world.

Fast-forward to 2004 when the Found Footage Festival first went on tour. Packing 90 minutes of footage from whatever clips they could find, the fest became instantly popular. The festival has been featured on NPR, Jimmy Kimmel Live and the AV Club of Madison’s “The Onion.”

There are only two rules that govern all the footage shown at the festival. The first is that all footage must be found on a physical format, which means no YouTube clips. The second rule is that the footage has to be unintentionally funny. Whatever the tape is trying to do must be ridiculously stupid.

In the same window of creativity, but in a different medium, Davy and Peter Rothbart have started up a website, similar to the process of found footage, called

The page is an hilarious compilation of “finders” from all over the world who submit scanned copies of notes, letters, and pictures that they discover on city streets, office brake rooms, floors, and bathroom stalls.

Every few months the best “finds” are wrapped-up into a hilarious magazine that one can purchase from the Found website.

Lucky for us, not only is the Footage Fest coming to Madison, but they are also teaming up with Found magazine to present “Found vs. Found.” Both camps will be going head to head in a battle over whether found videos or found notes reigns supreme.

This grand event will take place at the Orpheum Theater on Nov. 13 at 8 p.m.. Tickets are $13 and you can support a local non-profit by watching the sweet videos. One dollar from each ticket sold will be donated to the Goodman Community Center. More information can be “found” at

The show at the Orpheum on the 13will be a blast, and should remind you to be careful in the future when writing notes or making tapes. You never know when they may be found!