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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


Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at


Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.


Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…