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


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


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

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.


Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.