Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein, Steve Buscemi- Photo Credit: Augusta Quirk/IFC

The Year in Fred

Fred Armisen’s 5 Funniest Moments of 2015

Fred Armisen returns to Portlandia starting January 21st at 10P on IFC.

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As we bid adieu to 2015, it’s safe to say that Fred Armisen has had quite the year. Hosting the Spirit Awards, wearing a Freddy Krueger glove to the Emmys, fronting the 8G Band on Late Night, all while cocreating and starring in IFC’s Documentary Now!. Oh, and did we mention he’s got a new season of Portlandia debuting on January 21st? He’s very much like the hipster U.S. Army, doing more before 9am then most of us do all day. Here are a few of Fred’s moments from the last year that made us laugh out loud.

5. The “Catalina Breeze” Music Video

With Documentary Now!, Fred Armisen, along with his old SNL cohorts Bill Hader and Seth Meyers, created a comedic love letter to the documentaries they clearly know so well. Precisely aping the look and feel of a range of docs, and then putting their own unique spin on them, helped turn a fun premise into a tour-de-force. If the music video the gang dropped for the Blue Jean Committee’s “Catalina Breeze” — featured in the hilarious and moving two-part episode “Gentle & Soft: The Story of The Blue Jean Committee” — is any indication, there’s a lot more where that came from.

4. Spoofing Birdman on the Spirit Awards

Armisen, along with Kristen Bell, hosted the 2015 Film Independent Spirit Awards, showing how high he’s climbed in the Hollywood firmament. This pitch perfect spoof of Birdman, which would clean up at the ceremony that night, shows that Armisen gets the little details. And it’s no surprise that Hader pops up, as these two seem to be comedic soulmates every bit as much as Fred and Carrie Brownstein.

3. Late Night Lip Dub with Kristen Wiig

The genius of having Fred Armisen as your late night bandleader is obvious here, as he jumps right into this inspired bit of silliness. Where other bandleaders have gone big, Armisen uses his role on the show as an exercise to see how much he can undersell a joke. Deadpan is the name of the game, and Armisen always delivers.

2. Standing up for “weirdos” on Portlandia

Paul Reubens Weirdos Portlandia

The world of Candace, Toni, Kath, Dave and more expanded even further with the many hilarious storylines in Portlandia season five. Everything culiminated in an epic season finale, featuring Paul Reubens as the patron saint of “weirdos.”

1. The Dronez search for El Chingon


Documentary Now! was so rich, and so diverse, that there could be any number of moments to highlight from the first season. But one of our favorites comes from the “DRONEZ: The Hunt for El Chingon” episode, in which Bill and Fred explore the absurd ways in which the new age of participant journalists pursue a story.

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on and the IFC app.

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Byrning Down the House

Everything You Need to Know About the Film That Inspired “Final Transmission”

Documentary Now! pays tribute to "Stop Making Sense" this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Cinecom/courtesy Everett Collection

This week Documentary Now! is with the band. For everyone who’s ever wanted to be a roadie without leaving the couch, “Final Transmission” pulls back the curtain on experimental rock group Test Pattern’s final concert. Before you tune in Wednesday at 10P on IFC, plug your amp into this guide for Stop Making Sense, the acclaimed 1984 Talking Heads concert documentary.

Put on Your Dancing Shoes

Hailed as one of the best concert films ever created, director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) captured the energy and eccentricities of a band known for pushing the limits of music and performance.

Make an Entrance

Lead singer David Byrne treats the concert like a story: He enters an empty stage with a boom box and sings the first song on the setlist solo, then welcomes the other members of the group to the stage one song at a time.

Steal the Spotlight

David Byrne Dancing
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Always a physical performer, Byrne infuses the stage and the film with contagious joy — jogging in place, dancing with lamps, and generally carrying the show’s high energy on his shoulders.

Suit Yourself

Byrne makes a splash in his “big suit,” a boxy business suit that grows with each song until he looks like a boy who raided his father’s closet. Don’t overthink it; on the DVD, the singer explains, “Music is very physical, and often the body understands it before the head.”

View from the Front Row

Stop Making Sense Band On Stage
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Demme (who also helmed 1987’s Swimming to Cambodia, the inspiration for this season’s Documentary Now! episode “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything”) films the show by putting viewers in the audience’s shoes. The camera rarely shows the crowd and never cuts to interviews or talking heads — except the ones onstage.

Let’s Get Digital

Tina Weymouth Keyboard
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Stop Making Sense isn’t just a good time — it’s also the first rock movie to be recorded entirely using digital audio techniques. The sound holds up more than 30 years later.

Out of Pocket

Talk about investing in your art: Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz told Rolling Stone that the members of the band “basically put [their] life savings” into the movie, and they didn’t regret it.

Catch Documentary Now!’s tribute to Stop Making Sense when “Final Transmission” premieres Wednesday, October 12 at 10P on IFC.

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