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DID YOU READ

“Portlandia’s” Jonathan Krisel answers fan questions on IFC SYNC

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This past Friday, “Portlandia” writer, director and co-creator (and sometimes performer) Jonathan Krisel joined viewers live on IFC SYNC: Portlandia to answer fans’ questions about the show. For those who couldn’t make it to the chat, you can read all of the submitted questions and Jonathan’s answers below.

Don’t forget to log in to IFC SYNC this Friday, March 2nd at 10/9c when our special guest, Kyle MacLachlan, will be joining us for our next fan Q&A.


Whose idea was it to use the “Washed Out” track for the theme? It’s one of my favorite elements of the show.

We were talking about the theme one day. The idea was that Fred and Carrie would record it. Fred brought out the “Washed Out” track as a reference. It was so good. We tried to top it and couldn’t. We did the pilot with it and I just decided we had to have it. Luckily the dude from Washed Out was cool and we got to use it. We really wanted to set a tone that was unlike other comedy shows. It wasn’t in your face rock and roll. It wasn’t in your face comedy. It was Portland comedy. it was mellow.

Carrie is one of my favorite musicians, but who knew she was a great comedy actor? Did she take extra work?

Carrie has always been an amazing performer. I saw Sleater Kinney perform back when I was in college. After I first met her, my sister reminded me how Carrie does the Pete Townsend windmill when she plays guitar. She is very vibrant on stage. Which for the indie rock era was not the norm. What I am trying to say is that she is down. She is ready to go for it. That fearlessness means that she can get really good at her craft. She had done some acting in a film right before we did Portlandia so she knew the drill. She was comfortable on set. I think her biggest asset was staying real. That’s soooo hard to do. She has really grown a lot since we started though. She has much more confidence. I think it is

Are each of the sketches already scripted? Or is a lot of it improvised?

They are all outlined, some more scripted than others, but most of the dialog is improvised. We kind of go and go until we hit on something funny on the day, then we exploit that and stick with that. “aoriver!” was not in the script. Once that came out of Carrie’s mouth, I reworked the whole scene to be about that. One my favorite scenes as a result.

What is your favorite thing about Portland?

Portland is utopia. My favorite thing would be it’s earnestness. I am earnest too.

Who wrote the “Camp Song” for the episode with Andy Samberg episode…. its my favorite. I love it.

I wrote that song with my friend Davin Wood making the music. We also did “Dream of the 1890s.”

How many sketches per episode are deleted, on average?

I think we had 5 duds for the season. They will end up on the DVD.

What was the first sketch written for the show?

Hard to say. The idea was there for Put a Bird on it very early. Carrie had that idea, which is brilliant, I had had a similar idea for a sketch on Tim and Eric called spray paint a raven on a shirt. I knew I wanted to do it as a weird commercial.

I am writing from Melbourne, Australia. Your humour is equally funny here! Does that surprise you?

I am huge fan of Australian comedy. Strictly Ballroom is one of my favorite movies. Definitely the British Commonwealth’s sensibility is where I draw a lot of my influences.

Is it weird that I have the urge to start a hide and seek club?

It was bound to happen. Someone asked me if it was real.

Is the feminist bookstore still open in Portland?

Yes. It’s a great place, but I am constantly putting my foot in my mouth when I am there because it is so funny.

Are the addresses real?

Most of the time, yes. Some of the private residences I change.

Portland’s mayor seems to be a real sport with his supporting role; does the city embrace the show?

Definitely. The mayor has been great. The city has been great. I want to do all of my work in Portland.

Jon, If I mailed you a pair of awesome bike shorts, would you put a bird on it or pickle them?

Duh.

Who came up with the whole “Put a bird on it” joke?

Carrie.

Will Isaac Brock ever grace the show with his presence again?

Maybe. He was awesome to be on the show. We are all big fans.

Now that the show is a huge success, who has the biggest trailer: Carrie or Fred?

They share one trailer. An RV. It’s a very small intimate family on set.

How did you get LaMarcus Aldridge for the show?!!

We knew we wanted a Trailblazer. Penny Marshall is friends with Marcus Camby, but at the last second he had to bail because his wife was having a baby. Good excuse. On of our producers tracked down LaMarcus through his network of friends in Eugene. Weird. He was awesome!

Who thought of the idea for Fred and Carrie to switch genders for Nina and Lance?

That was my idea. When we were writing it, I thought the female character was a little too timid to be played by Carrie. Fred seemed to have the voice of the girl down when he was pitching lines for her to say. I knew that I would lower Carrie’s voice in editing so I made sure they never spoke at the same time. I think that sketch is the funniest one of the series.

I quit my job as a mixologist after you guys tore me apart. What career path would you guys NEVER attack?

No one is safe. I don’t think we tore mixology apart. Other professions yes. My wife is an amateur mixologist right now, making drinks every night. I love awesome mixed drinks. We went to a great place in Chicago where the bartender talked about making her own bitters at home. That ended up in the show.

Who’s kid was Grover? That is my favorite sketch to date.

He was a local actor with a twin brother. What you see in the show, with his head down looking really sad was real. He hated filming.

Any plans to do a donut sketch? (I’m thinking of Voodoo)

We did. “I’m a little guy.”

Is it socially acceptable to drink PBR in Portland?

Yes. On tap.

How long does it take to gather up and experiment with enough ideas to start filming?

Takes about 3 months to write the season.

When are you going to have “Portlandia” visit the Oregon coast?

Good question. I visited the coast last year, it’s pretty beautiful.

Is it hard to schedule shooting due to Fred being on “SNL”?

We shoot during the summer when he is off.

Anything awkward ever happen while filming the show?

People have yelled “F@*k Portlandia” sometimes when we are shooting. It’s kind of awesome.

Has Portland inspired you, beyond just doing the show?

Definitely. I would love to live there.

I’ve always wondered what the folks who work at In Other Words think of their “Portlandia” counterparts?

I think they think it’s funny. I think they have a good sense of humor about the whole thing.

Do they over recycle in Portland? Is it possible to recycle too much?

There is no recycle too much. That’s an oxymoron.

Will there be another season with more cast from “SNL”?

I hope so.

Will there ever be a “Portlandia” movie?

I really want to make a movie with Fred and Carrie for sure.

Do you know what your Myers-Briggs personality type is?

No.

Is there any other city/place you would like to write a sketch like this for?

Not really. Portland is my favorite city of these. I have a much more personal connection to it. I grew up visiting it during the summers. To me it seems like the one place that never looked for outside approval, it never wanted a show, but it got one anyway. It’s super special.

What questions do you have for the people behind “Portlandia”? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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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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