DID YOU READ

SXSW 2013: Fred Armisen on SXSW, “Out There” and “Portlandia”

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“This is Fred Armisen. I’m in a car right now with Melissa Locker. ” Thus started our chat with “Portlandia” star, writer and creator Fred Armisen who we cornered at SXSW 2013. We were going to talk about SXSW and his work on “Portlandia” and “Out There,” but Fred quickly took control of the interview and used it as a platform to cast unfair aspersions at one of IFC’s lovely and kind publicists. Please note, he was kidding and none of it is true. Comedians, man.

Hi Fred, you haven’t been to SXSW since …

1998

Were you sort of nervous about coming back or excited?

Excited really. I really liked it back then and I have very vivid memories of how nice it was. So yeah I’m excited! If I had more time I’d go look at more stuff, but I’ll take it. I’ll take this little time.

If you liked it so much, how come you didn’t come for 12 years?

There’s a very black and white answer in that every time I’ve wanted to go, it’s been a SNL week. Every single year, it’s been like, ‘oh maybe this would be a good year to go’ and then I always have to work. For some reason the timing worked out this year so I could go. And I’ve been on the show 11 years so that’s it.

Right, because the SXSW tape was your starting point.

Yeah, that tape was my entry point into comedy, into the life I have now. It was definitely my starting point.

Is this in some ways a victory lap?

A little bit. It’s funny, because when I came to SXSW originally I had this attitude that was very cynical. I was going to make fun of the idea that you had to come to a music festival to make it in music. There were all these panel discussions and I was like, what? I was kind of upset about how my music career had gone. But ironically it actually was the place I had to come to be successful, for lack of a better word. There’s success in everything even you haven’t quote-unquote made it. In my book, in the way that I see things, I really did have to come to Austin.

What are you going to do now that you’re back?

Well, Hallie, who is one of the publicists at IFC is very sadistic and I said to her, “I would like to walk around and do stuff,” and she said, “No, I am setting up back-to-back interviews.” I was like, “Well, it would be nice to walk around and do stuff.” And she was like, “NO. I’ve worked my whole life trying to get your show on the air.” And I was like, “You didn’t put my show on the air! You do publicity!” And she said, “You don’t even know how IFC works!” So I said, “I do know how IFC works! You don’t have the right to do that!” So she said, “Well if you’re not going to do anything then I’m not going.” So I said, “I want you to go to Austin, I want you to go and enjoy it.” And she was like, “Thank you.” and crying a little and I said, “Don’t cry!” and she said, “I’m not crying about you, I’m crying about other stuff in my life.” And I was like, “Okay okay let’s just go do these interviews.” And she said, “One of them is with Melissa Locker,” and I said “That’s fine. That’s good. I’ll do that.”

So what you’re going to do in Austin is back-to-back interviews.

Yes, back-to-back interviews.

Because Hallie made you.

The thing with Hallie I think is that it’s more about how she wants to be connected to me. I get that a lot actually. People want to be connected to me.

This is why you’re not on Facebook or Twitter, because your friend requests would be overwhelming.

That is one of the reasons. The other reason is that I can’t find it online.

Yes, Facebook is extremely hard to find online.

I’ve Googled it but then …nothing.

You were at the Prince tribute concert at Carnegie Hall the other night.

Yes, there were actually a couple of them. There was a sort of rehearsal for the show and then an actual show.

Rumor has it that Prince is going to be performing this Saturday for the first time ever at SXSW

Really?

So are you going to stay now?

God, how strong is the rumor?

Very strong. He’s reportedly going to be playing with a 22-piece backing band.

God, wow. You know they said he was going to be at the Carnegie Hall thing, they said he was going to be at the after-party and he wasn’t, which is what I like about him, that he’s a mystery. I’ve seen him a bunch of times and he’s amazing. He’s just amazing.

Have you met him?

Briefly at SNL. You know I’m always a Prince fan.

You are providing the voice of Terry on “Out There.” What has that been like?

That has been really really fun because they showed me what he looked like first and it was kind of like he had this hippie look to him instead of the stereotypical Latino character. Which I think is a good version of someone who is Latino. There are a bunch of people in the Southwest who are hippies as well as Latino. It’s been really fun and I go to the recording studio and they kind of guide me along. I’ve been watching it recently and I’m really happy with the way it all came out. They put a lot of love into it and that’s really cool. It’s just such a nice optimistic show and I’m really psyched about it. Then they asked me to voice a teacher and I did that too. It’s just the kind of stuff that I love to do.

Voice over work?

Yeah, there’s something very gratifying about doing a little bit of work and then everybody does the rest of the work. All the voices, all the animation.

So, you like getting the credit for other people’s work?

Yeah, it’s cool. It’s been really great. I think it’s nice that there is no cynicism on “Out There”

Because Portlandia isn’t cynical.

No, it’s not. And I think it’s kind of a nice thing for IFC where there is this kind of vibe where there isn’t very much anger. And I know Marc Maron seems that way, but he’s actually an optimist. He would never say that, but there’s something about Marc Maron that is really optimistic.

“Out There” is obviously based in high school, so what was your high school experience like?

High school was really good! I grew up in Long Island, in Valley Stream and it was really nice. We had physically a really nice school, good teachers. I had a good time with my friends. We were a bunch of weirdos. I was really into punk. We were close enough to New York City that we got to go to the City all the time. I had a really good time.

Did you have one high school experience that was awkward?

There was one junior high school experience, where we were given an assignment to write about what we would do if it was the last day on Earth. Everyone was writing about how they would go visit their grandma and I was like, ‘that is SO lame!” I don’t know if I was trying to be funny or what, but I said that I would go to the main street in Valley Stream and smash all the windows and light the buildings on fire. When you’re 14 or 15, that’s how teenagers think! But they sent me to the school psychologist and it sucked because my mother got worried and I had to do all these tests. They were these written tests and they made me feel crazy because I was alone taking these tests while class was going on. So that was sort of traumatic, but in retrospect it was the first time I started getting like studio notes on the work I was doing.

Want the latest news on IFC’s happenings at SXSW? Check the schedule here. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @IFCsxsw

Photo credit: Rebecca Brenneman/IFC

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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.

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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

Shopping

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.

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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.

Booger

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.

Ogre

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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