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Weekend Update Warrior

Fred Armisen’s 10 Funniest Weekend Update Characters

Fred Armisen Weekend Update

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Seth Meyers will join his  Late Night bandleader Fred Armisen on the Portlandia season finale this week, but the two have a long history together of making us laugh. They first found their unique chemistry behind the Weekend Update desk on Saturday Night Live. Seth’s bemused personality played perfectly off the parade of lunatics Fred brought to life. Here are a few of Fred, and occasionally Seth’s, Weekend Update highlights.

10. Garth and Kat

No matter how many chances Seth gave them, Fred and Kristen Wiig’s loveable loser characters Garth and Kat just couldn’t get their act together. Making up songs on the spot, while empathically denying they were doing just that, these two became such fan favorites they were welcomed back for the show’s 40th anniversary.


9. Nicholas Fehn

Aping on the comedy stylings of Mort Sahl, Nicholas would riff on newspaper headlines, without ever actually landing on a joke. Along with Garth and Kat, this character was clearly made up on the spot, and showed how brilliant Fred could be at seeming unprepared.


8. The Kelly Brothers

One of Fred’s earliest appearances behind the desk, he and Will Forte played The Kelly Brothers, constitutional scholars who explained the arcane aspect of constitutional law through song, but never quite got to the point.


7. Native American Comic Billy Smith

Again going for an anti-laugh of sorts, Billy Smith was famous for punch lines that made no sense to anyone outside of the Native American community. Trust him though, “these jokes kill on the reservation.”


6. Randall Meeks

“Weekend Update Tech Correspondent” Randal Meeks appeared just once, sharing how easy it was to use Google Glass. The only problem was, the darn thing never worked, leaving Randall in a constant panic as he flailed around, unable to even turn it off. The astute way Armisen picked apart the small, smug enclave who adopted this technology clearly predicts his work on Portlandia.

5. Best Friends Growing Up

Not a character, but a recurring bit, Fred and Vanessa Bayer played old friends to some of the world’s worst dictators, including Gaddafi, Vladimir Putin and even King Richard the III. And honestly, they’re really nice in person, even if they can be a bit cheap when it comes to tipping.


4. Deaf Comic Ritchie B

An early play on his stand-up comic with a gimmick routine, here a deaf comic has to rely on a black translator to impart his racist jokes. It stars Fred and Kenan Thompson, a duo we wish we had seen more of.


3. The Gay Couple From New Jersey

Romantic strolls through the streets of New Brunswick were the name of the game for these Sopranos-esque lovers, played by Fred and Bill Hader. They may make you an offer you can’t refuse, but that’s only because nobody can refuse a lovely weekend of antiquing in Vermont.


2. Steve Jobs

A character sadly retired for obvious reasons, Fred had fun making anything Jobs said…the…most…important…thing…in…the…world. Sure, Fred’s Jobs flat out lied about the iPhone’s capabilities, but who could refuse a phone with “150 kabillion contacts” and a clock?


1. New York Governor David Paterson

This accidental Governor didn’t seem like the most obvious target when Fred Armisen debuted his impersonation in 2008, but the blind, baffled politician who hates New Jersey became one of his most popular characters. This bit was not without its critics, but was so beloved even Fred’s departure from the show couldn’t stop it, coming back in 2014 to help send Seth Meyers off in style.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.