A Brief Interview With Portlandia’s Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen

A Brief Interview With Portlandia’s Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen (photo)

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On Friday night at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT, the much-anticipated IFC original show, Portlandia, premieres. The shows writers, creators, and stars Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen, sat down with me for a lightning round of questions about the show.

IFC Now : East Coast or West Coast?

Fred: I’m East Coast.

Carrie: West Coast.

IFC Now : Any chance you’re going to start shooting each other up Tupac and Biggie style?

Fred : No, we embrace our differences.

IFC Now : Portlandia has some awesome guest stars. In fact, one star, Steve Buscemi, won a Golden Globe last night for his role in “Boardwalk Empire”. What is his role in “Portlandia”?

Fred: He plays a visitor to the feminist bookstore, and when we were looking to cast that part, I knew I wanted a Golden Globe winner and they guaranteed that Steve was going to win. They promised. So when he won, the first thing I thought was, ‘This is great!’.

IFC Now : Right, and now “Portlandia” will be his first role after his Golden Globe win.

Fred: We have to put that in the ads for the show. We should rewrite the copy.

Carrie: Kyle [Maclachlan] must have won for something too.

IFC Now : Best Lead Actor in a Drama for “Twin Peaks”. So you have two Golden Globe winners on Portlandia. Wow!

Fred: We should hang up and go re-write the press release right now.

IFC Now : Fred, you’re not from Portland, did you rely on Carrie to help you know what to …er, skewer or was it pretty self evident?

Fred : Well I don’t think we skewer anything. But, I’ve been there enough to observe things that seemed universal. You eat in the restaurants and go to the feminist bookstores or, rather, bookstore. You see stuff. But I did rely on Carrie to chauffeur me around. I never know what direction we’re going. I just sit in the passenger seat and she drives.

IFC Now : Did you have to learn how pronounce Oregon?

Fred : It’s Orey-gohne.

IFC Now : What about Couch street? [Pronounced cooch.]

Fred : Wrong, it’s couch [cow-ch].

IFC Now : What about Willamette?

Fred : It’s actually pronounced ILL-a-met. It’s a silent ‘W’.

IFC Now : Do you actually own any flannel?

Carrie: I’m actually wearing flannel right now. It’s what I wore on the plane and I slept in it. It’s how I’m bringing Portland to New York. Through flannel.

Fred: No. I don’t own any.

IFC Now : You had the local premiere of the show on Friday (the 14th) at the Hollywood Theater. What’s been the response to the show in Portland?

Carrie: The local premiere was a lot of fun. The show was actually a benefit and the first screening sold out in just a few hours. We added a second screening and that sold out too. There’s generally been a lot of enthusiasm. People are genuinely interested. For how analytical people in Portland can be, they also have a sense of humor. There’s a real spirit of benevolence in Portland.

IFC Now : Carrie, are you worried that creating this show will make you uncomfortable in your adopted home of Portland?

Carrie: I’m not really worried about the local reaction. I’ve existed in the creative community for years and I think this is just part of the ongoing creative conversation. I mean, I hope. Portlanders are pretty low key about these things. I hope I won’t get kicked out of anywhere. So far it’s been fine.

IFC Now : I’m from Portland and the thing I keep hearing is that people are worried this show will make people want to move to Portland. What would you say to them?

Carrie: People didn’t move to the prairie after “Little House on the Prairie.”

Fred People didn’t move into the Brady Bunch house

Carrie:People didn’t move to “Gilligan’s Island” or “Lost.” Except it is in Hawaii and everyone wants to live in Hawaii.

Fred: And “Sesame Street” is in New York and lots of people move here, but no one seems to mind.

IFC Now : I have a more personal question: My brother lives on SE Lincoln and really likes Apple products, were you specifically mocking him in the first episode?

Carrie: Yes.

Fred: No, I am making fun of me. But also yes.

IFC Now : Do you think people outside of Portland will get all the jokes in the show?

Carrie: The ideals and philosophy that are in the show, and in Portland, are present in a lot of other cities, whether its Austin or Williamsburg [Brooklyn] or Silver Lake [Los Angeles] or Boulder, Colorado. So a lot of the ideology in the show is present in a lot of states. If a state doesn’t have a Portland, there are subsets of the population that are striving to be Portland. Pittsburgh is trying to get on the Portland thing. There may not be entire cities who get it, but there are certain populations that will find the material relatable.

IFC Now: Do you have any art with a bird on it?

Carrie: Yes

Fred: Yes.

Carrie: Who doesn’t?

Portlandia premieres on IFC at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.


IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines


The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.


Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.


A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.


Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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