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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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.

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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

Shopping

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.

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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.

Booger

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.

Ogre

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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