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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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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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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