Interview: Eleanor Friedberger joins “Portlandia the Tour”


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Due to an overwhelming response (read: sold out in five minutes) and popular demand, Portlandia the Tour is back on the road and heading to six new cities. That’s right, Fred Armisen (Saturday Night Live) and Carrie Brownstein (Wild Flag, Sleater-Kinney) from IFC’s hit original comedy Portlandia are bringing their live show to Atlanta, Boston, Washington D.C., Nashville, Durham, NC, and Philadelphia. This time, though they are bringing some friends. In addition to their awesome backing band featuring Rebecca Cole of Wild Flag and Michael Lerner of Telekinesis, Fred and Carrie invited Eleanor Friedberger on the road with them. Eleanor got to know Fred and Carrie when she was in the band Fiery Furnaces with her brother, now she has branched out into a burgeoning solo career where she opened for Wild Flag on their October tour.

Before jumping on the Portlandia tour bus, Eleanor chatted with us for a few minutes about the tour, her road trip playlist, and what’s the matter with Nashville.

Hi Eleanor, you just got back from your West Coast tour. How was it?

It was great. I’ve been doing headlining shows with my band, which was fun. I have toured a lot in the past, but I’ve been doing a lot opening for others. So it was nice to be the headliner.

The Portlandia Tour starts Sunday and the first stop in Philadelphia, right?

Yes, I’m meeting Fred and Carrie on the West Side Highway.

You’re just going to flag them down?

Yes, three lost souls who will find each other on the West Side Highway.

That sounds like an excellent screenplay idea.

I’m excited to spend time with them. I’ve known Fred and Carrie for a while now, but I’ve always known them separately. I think I’ve only spent time with them together once. So I am looking forward to the antics on the bus.

You get a whole bus?

Yes, but it’s not just us. There’s a whole band, too. Along with me there’s Rebecca from Wild Flag and Michael Lerner from Telekineses. There will be a full band playing. And I get to sing a few songs. Maybe I will get to tell a few jokes, too. Mostly the G-rated ones I have up my sleeves. Fred and Carrie get to do the adult comedy.

This tour is taking you from Philadelphia to Boston and then down South.

Yes, we’re hitting six cities including Boston and DC and Atlanta and Nashville. It’s just a quick jaunt. I wish it was longer. I have a feeling it will be a lot of fun. Then again maybe a week is the perfect length. We can end on a high and it will leave us wanting more.

You will be driving from city to city, date to date. That’s a lot of road time.

Yes, but we don’t have to drive the bus. We will just be sleeping or playing video games in the back.

You don’t have to drive the bus?! That’s like cheating on a road trip.

Ha ha ha. No! We don’t have to drive. But I do have a friend who sat up with the driver and he asked if she had ever driven a bus before. It’s probably a good thing to know how to do. But we’ll just be in the back playing video games and reading magazines.

Do you play video games?

No, but I think Fred does.

I think he plays Grand Theft Auto. What are your favorite places to eat on the road? You have to go to Waffle House if you’re in the south, right?

I hope it doesn’t come to that. I try to be a little healthier than that. I am excited that we are going to Durham. Merge, the label that I’m on and the one that Carrie’s band Wild Flag is on is there. And the owner Mac, his wife owns a restaurant called Lantern and it is incredible. I hope we get to eat there. Otherwise it’s just Whole Foods.

What else are you looking forward to on the tour?

Meeting new people. Stretching out from what I normally do. I’ve been in a band with my brother for ten years, so I’m really looking forward to playing with new people. Especially because this Portlandia show is something between a rock show, a comedy show and a TV promotional tour. It’s a mishmash that will hopefully appeal to a broader audience. I like the fact that the boundaries are blurred between TV and music and playing live.

If you had to put three songs on a road trip mix tape what would they be?

“Do You Wanna Dance” by the Ramones, because I covered that with Wild Flag while I was on tour with them. I would put “Magic Bus” by The Who and “Journey” by Duncan Brown.

Do you know people in every city you are visiting on the tour?

Well, there are definitely going to be some familiar faces, but it’s not a social visit, this is work! I’ve been to all these cities, except Nashville. And I’m going back to all of them on tour, except Nashville.

What’s wrong with Nashville?

Hahaha nothing it just keeps not being where I end up. I’m heading out on my own headlining tour in April and I hope that some of the people I meet on the Portlandia Tour will come out and see me again.

Here’s Eleanor’s track “Heaven,” which rumor has it is Fred’s and Carrie’s favorite:

And here are Eleanor and Carrie performing together with Wild Flag:

Want the latest news from Portlandia? Like us on Facebook and follow us on @IFCportlandia and use the hashtag #Portlandia.

“Portlandia” airs on IFC on Fridays at 10/9c

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar


IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”

Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”

But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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