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DID YOU READ

A Brief Interview with Fred and Carrie from “Portlandia”

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“Portlandia” stars Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein took a few minutes out of their busy schedules starring on “Saturday Night Live” and touring with Wild Flag, respectively, to sit down and talk to us about the upcoming season of “Portlandia” as well as Portlandia: The Tour. Wasn’t it nice of them to make time for their little old network? We thought so too, because we’re not just a network, we’re fans, too.

Since we spoke last year, “Portlandia” has become a huge hit. And people are putting birds on things from coast to coast.

Carrie Brownstein: We’re surprised with the incredible reaction we’ve gotten from people. It’s nice. We’re really fortunate in the response we’ve had. And birds on things are nice.

Fred Armisen: You know, we’re fortunate it’s a bird. It’s nice to look at. It could have been a lot worse.

With the success of the show, how often do people ask you about putting birds on things and declaring things are SO over? Are you sick of it at all?

Fred: I’ll never be sick of anything. It’s just nice.

Carrie: Yeah, we’re just grateful.

You have some amazing guest stars in season two including Tim Robbins, Penny Marshall, Kristen Wiig, Andy Samberg. Do you write parts for them specifically or just work them into stories?

Carrie: A little of both. Sometimes someone expresses an interest in working with us and we will try to come up with an amazing part for them. Sometimes the story comes first. Like the warlord with Tim Robbins. We write that part and had to figure out who we could reach out to for it. We’re lucky that we have been able to work with so many amazing people.

Tim Robbins strikes me as a natural warlord. Do you know the game fuck/marry/kill?

Carrie: Yes

Fred: Yes, we invented it.

Okay, so you know it then. Let’s play with some of your characters: Candace, Bryce, and Kath:

Fred: I don’t want to kill any of our characters.

Carrie: I don’t want to kill any of them, and I also don’t want to have sex with any of them. Even though there is some sex on the show, when I think about it, it’s just a blank. I mean it’s sort of like having sex with each other or ourselves. Is the third option marriage? I guess that’s an option. Although it seems impossible to imagine.

Fred: Especially the feminist bookstore ladies that’s impossible

Carrie: Kath would make a decent wife for the right guy. Nance is too high maintenance.

Fred: What’s the name of the woman you play in the band?

Carrie: Merrill?

Fred: Merrill would be interesting.

Carrie: She wasn’t an option!

Fred: I’m adding her. I’d pluck her out and add her.

Carrie: Well then if we can just choose anyone, I’d marry Gahvin. And you would be this little redheaded prop that I brought around.

Fred: Merrill wears like a white jumpsuit. That’s a million points right there.

Carrie: That’s a Devo fantasy for you.

Girls across America are going to be wearing white jumpsuits to your tour stops now.

Fred: Oh that would be nice. We’re bringing wedding rings with us. We are definitely prepared to have some proposals.

Carrie: We should do a couple marriages on stage. Maybe four different weddings?

Speaking of the “Portlandia” live shows, they sold out across the country in a matter of minutes. Was that a big surprise?

Fred: Yeah. Of course.

Carrie: It’s very flattering. We had no idea how things were going to go. We’re an untested live act, so we are just very flattered that people want to come see us.

What can people expect on the live show? Besides marriage proposals.

Fred: There will be music and a Q & A. We’ll show some clips from the show.

Carrie: We’re going to have some friends joining us on stage.

Fred: We want it to feel like it’s a visit in our living room.

You must have very large living rooms

Fred: Yeah, we do.

Are there going to be costume changes? Are you going to bring various “Portlandia” characters to life on stage?

Fred: We’re going to be dressed as Devo fans in white jumpsuits.

Carrie: I guess there’s no one to take over the show while we change, so we can’t really do it.

Fred: No costume changes. There’s no time.

Carrie: Well, while we’re screening some clips, maybe.

Fred: There’s no time! We can’t!

Carrie: When I saw Madonna’s Like a Prayer tour she changed her costumes six or seven times. She set the bar pretty high.

Fred: We can’t do it! But, no joke, Liberace did a month of Christmas shows at a theater where I was an usher. There were so many costume changes. But we can’t. Really. We can’t do it! There’s no time! We can’t.

Carrie: There’s no screen to go behind and change, I guess. However, there will be partial nudity, yes, but no costume changes.

Fred: Just costumes off. That will be a change.

Can you tell us who some of the special guests and friends will be who will be joining you on stage during the tour?

Fred: No.

Carrie: You can make guesses based on our location. For New York and Los Angeles that will be pretty hard, because there are so many people there. But you can guess anyway.

How are you going to be touring? Two on a match in a van?

Carrie: The actual dates are pretty far apart. The first couple of shows, yes, we’re going to travel by car. It’s just from Portland to Seattle. But the rest of the dates are really spread out from LA to Chicago and New York. So we’re going to travel via the greatest mode of transportation: A jet airplane. I tour enough.

Fred: Not a private jet.

Carrie: No, we can rough it.


Are we going to see some of the same characters from season one in season two?

Fred: There will be some new people, but some of our favorites are coming back, too. Like Candace and Toni from the feminist bookstore.

Carrie: Then there are lots of new characters who appear more than once.

If you had to be one of your characters for the rest of your life who would it be?

Fred: Oh it would have to be one that would keep us healthy and have the nicest things.

Carrie: That’s a nice way to think about it. Most of our characters are pretty healthy.

Maybe not the dumpster divers.

Carrie: Maybe not them. Maybe Kath and Dave are too high strung? Maybe Michelle and Brendan.

Fred: They at least enjoy things and enjoy life. Doug and Claire would definitely take us places.

Will the characters have grown at all during the hiatus? Or is it more of a “Seinfeld”-ian no hugs, no growing idea?

Fred: We got into all of them a little bit more. So you will see different and new aspects of each of them.

How should we spend the last few minutes of this interview?

Fred: Arguing of course.

How about instead, what is the most important thing people should know about the show?

Carrie: It is most important that people know it is on. Then once it’s on, there are a lot of messages in each episode.

Fred: We want them to watch One Moore Episode.

“Portlandia” returns to IFC on January 6th at 10 p.m. ET

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

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Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

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IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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