It's a delightfully simple premise, executed just about well enough to get away with it. Found Footage Festival is the 14-year-old brainchild of friends Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher, celebrating the best (and worst) of old VHS videos and grainy B-roll. It's not quite a passion project, but it's the enthusiastic sympathy for the tragic figures in the clips (it would've been easy to go the route of snearing derision) that anchors it as a charming live comedy event.
In accruing the footage over the years, which includes retro PSA films and public access television, Pickett and Prueher set themselves one rule: they cannot source from the internet, as they must acquire it through physical copies. Who knew that exercise videos from 1986 wouldn't hold up today?
As endearing as their commitment to the cause of unearthing cringe clips for our pleasure is, there's an inescapable pitfall to their presence as hosts throughout. They interject with often distracting narration that essentially explains the joke – we don't need to know why a compilation of news bloopers is funny. The running commentary is akin to someone hovering over you as you watch a YouTube video, whispering, "This is the good part coming up".
Even if the excessive contextualising somewhat detracts from the random inanity of the clips, you can't help but revel in the inexplicably awkward nature of what you're seeing. It's self-explanatory fun, and it'll make you wonder how we ever took the pre-digital era seriously.