The People’s Portlandia


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File this under totally inevitable: a group of students in Portland State University’s Social Practice program have undertaken a project, called People’s Portlandia, that enlists Portland residents to make their own Portlandia-inspired skits. You see, in Portland, DIY culture is so deeply engrained that a television show spoofing our fair city is only the jumping-off point for folks to take comedy into their own hands (you’ve seen “The Dream of the Suburbs,” right?). After all, as we learned right here through our tales of The Most Portland Thing Ever, the comedy is endless, and it writes itself. Why stop with just Portlandia?

Of course, it’s more serious than that. It’s also testament to what makes Portland so great: people don’t passively accept culture. Instead, they actively engage with it, participating, building their own scenes and sometimes forcefully turning the conversation back on itself. Social Practice art, of which this is an example, is defined by its willing engagement in communities and its emphasis on democratizing the back-and-forth between those who make art and those who consume it. People’s Portlandia may not be as funny as Portlandia, but its spirit of enterprising self-awareness is exactly what makes the show&#8212and living in Portland&#8212so totally exciting. And hilarious.

The story of People’s Portlandia is intimately intertwined with Fred and Carrie, too. We caught up with the project’s creator, Nolan Calisch, to get the full story.

Portlandia: Tell me a little bit about your background & the inception of this project.
Nolan Calisch: I run an organic CSA farm outside of Portland, but I am also an artist with a background in film and photography. My first exposure to Portlandia was when they came to the farm to film the first episode of season one. Colin is actually one of our trusty laying hens. People’s Portlandia grew out of conversations with my friends. When the season first came out, I felt like a couldn’t go a day without hearing someone say “wow, that should be a Portlandia skit.” So, it was a really a “what if” scenario. I thought, what if set up a simple framework so all these people in Portland could actually create all these funny ideas and experiences they were having in their daily lives.

Portlandia: Off the bat, it seems as though People’s Portlandia is about “taking back” Portland. Do you feel like Portlandia misrepresents Portland?
Nolan Calisch: A lot of people have framed it this way, but for me, this was never really its intention. I respect Fred and Carrie’s creativity and I think of People’s Portlandia as an opportunity to expand and elaborate on what they started, which I think ultimately its a celebration of this wonderfully weird and idiosyncratic city.

Portlandia: You’re coming at this from a social practice standpoint. Can you explain how you see this project within the larger context of social practice work?
Nolan Calisch: Sure. A lot of social practice work takes place outside the art world and often this work is public and collaborative in nature. I guess People’s Portlandia has these characteristics. Personally, one reason I am interested in social practice is because its about expanding the possibilities of an art practice, its about saying art doesn’t have to be an elite or professional or solitary act, it can be a spirit, a way of being in the world. I see People’s Portlandia as encouraging this spirit.

Hot Bikini Beans from Jon Meyer on Vimeo.

Portlandia: Are there Portlandia sketches you feel hit the nail on the head?
Nolan Calisch: To be honest I have only seen a handful of episodes because I don’t own a TV. I have to say, from what I’ve seen, I enjoy the yuppie couple and I really think the costuming on the show is great.

Portlandia: What has the response to the project been like?
Nolan Calisch: The response has been good. Hundreds of people have told me very incredible skit ideas. Its just been a matter of convincing them to take the next step to make a video.

Portlandia: Have you communicated with anyone who works directly on the show?
Nolan Calisch: I met Fred and Carrie on the farm several years ago. We only spoke briefly and I remember the whole time they were very self conscious about their hair since they were both wearing wigs. They kept telling us, “you know this is not my real hair, we don’t usually look like this.” It was endearing.

Readers, season two of Portlandia is coming to an end. Don’t let the dream fade! It’s not too late to submit your own videos for the first People’s Portlandia screening, on March 29th at the Hollywood Theater. Submissions are due March 15th, and it’s totally free to enter.

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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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Draught Pick

Sam Adams “Keeps It Brockmire”

All New Brockmire airs Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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From baseball to beer, Jim Brockmire calls ’em like he sees ’em.


It’s no wonder at all, then, that Sam Adams would reach out to Brockmire to be their shockingly-honest (and inevitably short-term) new spokesperson. Unscripted and unrestrained, he’ll talk straight about Sam—and we’ll take his word. Check out this new testimonial for proof:

See more Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC, presented by Samuel Adams. Good f***** beer.

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