DID YOU READ

15 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Portlandia

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Fully immerse yourself in the strange and wonderful world of Portlandia, Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s sketch comedy show, with these 15 little-known facts.

1. The show is shot entirely on location in Portland, Oregon.

And most of the extras used on the show are local actors. Co-creator, co-writer, and co-star Carrie Brownstein is also a resident of Portland.


2. The name of the show is more than a play on “Portland.”

Portlandia is also the name of a statue by sculptor Raymond Kaskey that is located outside the Portland Building in the city’s downtown area. You can see the statue—the country’s second-largest copper repoussé sculpture (behind the Statue of Liberty)—in the show’s opening credit sequence.


3. Many of the show’s characters are based on real Portland locals.

For example, costume designer Amanda Needham based Peter (of Peter and Nance) on her father-in-law.
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4. Before debuting Portlandia in 2011, Armisen and Brownstein teamed up for a series of web videos called ThunderAnt.

Some Portlandia bits, like feminist bookstore owners Toni and Candace, were taken directly from the web show.


5. The Women and Women First feminist bookstore sketches are shot at an actual feminist bookstore in Portland called In Other Words.

It is the only non-profit feminist bookstore in the country. The set designers left the store almost completely untouched for the show—with the exception of the books themselves. Since the show doesn’t have the rights to the store’s real books, production designer Tyler Robinson replaced them with fake books he created.


6. Portlandia is executive produced by Saturday Night Live creator and producer Lorne Michaels.

Armisen and Brownstein pitched the idea for Portlandia to Michaels while Armisen was still an SNL cast member, and Michaels greenlit the show in 2010. Armisen would eventually leave SNL in 2013.


7. As of Portlandia’s fourth season, nine current and former SNL cast members (not including Armisen) have appeared on the show other than Armisen.

Ten if you include actor George Wendt, who made cameo appearances on SNL in the early 1990s. They are: Jason Sudeikis, Kristen Wiig, Andy Samberg, Bobby Moynihan, Mike O’Brien, Bill Hader, Vanessa Bayer, Jay Pharoah, and Maya Rudolph.


8. Portlandia won a Peabody Award in 2012.

Considered the “Pulitzer Prize for radio” when it was founded in 1940, the Peabody Awards have grown to recognize excellence in a wide range of electronic media, from radio, to television, to original web content. According to the 16-member Peabody Board, which gives out the awards, Portlandia “was recognized for the freshness and amiability of its send-ups of Oregon’s trendy city.” It also won an Emmy in 2013 for Outstanding Costumes for a Variety Program or Special.

9. Sam Adams, the former mayor of Portland, appeared in four episodes of the show.

While he was the actual mayor of Portland at the time, Adams played the assistant to actor Kyle MacLachlan’s unnamed mayor. The show also shoots its city hall scenes in the actual Portland City Hall and MacLachlan used Adams’s actual bicycle in many of his scenes.


10. Carrie and Fred’s onscreen relationship was inspired by Sesame Street.

It was based on that of another famously ambiguous twosome: Bert and Ernie.


11. Portlandia is full of cameos by musicians.

They include: Aimee Mann, Sarah McLachlan, k.d. lang, The Decemberists’ Jenny Conlee and Colin Meloy, James Mercer from The Shins and Broken Bells, Corin Tucker and Janet Weiss from Sleater-Kinney, Rebecca Cole of Wild Flag, Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam, Isaac Brock from Modest Mouse, St. Vincent, Robin Pecknold from Fleet Foxes, Joanna Newsom, Johnny Marr, Jack White, Steve Jones from the Sex Pistols, No Doubt, J Mascis from Dinosaur Jr., Dirty Projectors, Tunde Adebimpe from TV on the Radio, Jello Biafra from Dead Kennedys, Duff McKagan from Guns N’ Roses, Kim Gordon from Sonic Youth, Jeff Tweedy from Wilco, Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age, and Michael Nesmith from The Monkees.


12. To date, co-creator and writer Jonathan Krisel has directed every single episode of Portlandia.

You may recognize Krisel’s offbeat humor from other shows he worked on like Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! and Kroll Show. Krisel was also a writer for Saturday Night Live for one season in 2011.


13. Kumail Nanjiani, who appears in nine episodes, writes his own dialogue.

The writers give him his character’s scenarios and he makes the rest up.


14. Portlandia is Jerry Seinfeld’s favorite comedy.

He said in a 2014 interview with Vulture, “I think that’s the best comedy on TV right now, and it’s easily one of the best comedies of all time.”


15. Background extra Jedediah Aaker is allegedly in more episodes of the show than any other actor (aside from Carrie and Fred).

He’s the heavily tattooed guy with the huge beard who pops up as a side character. Aaker—a non-actor and Portland native—is a bartender and a founding member of a beard appreciation society called The Portland Beardsmen.

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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…

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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. 

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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-Craft

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?”

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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).

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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.

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

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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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.

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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.

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Forget Public Wifi

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

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Inter-not

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.

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Self Defense

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

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