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Bill Hader, Fred Armisen and Seth Meyers on what to expect from 'Documentary Now!'

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Tyler Golden/IFC

Bill Hader, Fred Armisen, and Seth Meyers are reuniting for old times’ sake—this time on IFC, where the trio serve as creators/exec producers/writers of the parody Documentary Now! (Aug. 20), inspired by their collaboration on Saturday Night Live’s “Ian Rubbish and the Bizzaros: History of Punk.”

“We thought, ‘We enjoyed doing this. How can we keep doing this?’ And very quickly we came up with all these stories,” says Armisen, who stars with Hader on the six-episode show, featuring tongue-in-cheek tributes to famous docs such as Grey Gardens (above) and explorations of subjects like a ’70s rock band named Blue Jean Committee. We asked the guys to name the documentary tropes that the show will embrace—and avoid. 

CLICHÉS ON THEIR MUST LIST

MEYERS: “You are going to see staged reenactments of crimes. With a more glossy look than the actual crime itself.”

HADER: “We do that moment when the subject of a documentary has a big life change, and then it goes into the ‘Everything’s happening!’ success montage: ‘And that’s when we moved to New York!’ [Hums “New York, New York”] And then it’s just stock footage of New York.”

MEYERS: “A lot of the great documentaries bring you ‘never-before-seen’ footage. And even though in this case every part of our show is ‘never-before-seen’ footage, within that footage there will be scenes framed as ‘never-before-seen.’ ” 

CLICHÉS ON THEIR BUST LIST

MEYERS: “At no point will a voice-over read a letter home from a Civil War soldier. That’s a promise.”

HADER: “It’s always a giant bummer when a person does a documentary on a subject, but then that documentary is just kind of about them. [With this show] you’re not going to be like, ‘Cool, they’ve got a documentary about Stanley Kubrick,’ and then it’s just me interviewing my sisters about how much I like Full Metal Jacket.”

ARMISEN: “At the end of many documentaries, they give an update of what happened to the person in the movie. ‘In 2006 he was acquitted.’ Then ‘In 2007 he was arrested again for shoplifting.’ I’m like, ‘Stop it!’ So you’re not going to see that scroll. Although now that I say it, I want to do a documentary that’s only those, from beginning to end.” 

For a first look at the show, click here.