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Portlandia at the South Pole!


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Mikey Kampmann is a young comedian who, when he’s not making cameo appearances in Portlandia episodes (look for him in the park at Spike and Iris’ wedding!) was just about the funniest thing in town until he decided to go AWOL and work as a line cook at the Admundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica for four months. No joke. Still, true to the pioneering, DIY spirit of a true Northwesterner, Mikey has managed to bring Portland to the South Pole, with Oregon-roasted coffee, a hilarious blog, fresh local kale, and even fresher personal style. No small feat at the literal ends of the Earth.

We managed to catch up with him, despite the spotty Polar internet and 21-hour time difference, and chat about aliens, tunneling with Werner Herzog, and comedy on ice.

Portlandia: Get real with us about the Internet situation. Is it fast? Do you have wi-fi? Were you even able to watch Cool Wedding, the episode of Portlandia that you starred in last week?

Mikey Kampmann: We are in the Future at the South Pole, at least by 21 hours, but unfortunately in the Future the Internet is slow. We get Internet in waves depending on a few NASA satellites. One satellite is really slow and the others are faster, but still not fast enough to stream video with any dignity. So no, I haven’t seen any of the new Portlandia episodes and have only heard about the episode I was in last week, like from my local car insurance agent who emailed me to say he recognized me on the show. There is actually some really fast Internet here, but access is only given to Science research, which fair enough as they’re using it to map and understand the Universe at the beginning of time.

Portlandia: What percentage of the people you work with in Antarctica do you think are actually crazy?

Mikey Kampmann: This is a scary question. To be honest, I’ve had to ask myself this question a few times. The thing is we are incredibly isolated and the community is so small that it has become hard at this point to know who is for sure crazy. I think we’re all a little crazy, but not institutionally crazy. Wait, this is an institution though. Um, yeah, I’m not sure. No, nobody is like crazy crazy, but I did ask my friend what he thought and he said 65% including himself of course.

Mikey showing off the South Pole's own organically-grown local kale.

Portlandia: Have you done any comedy at the pole? Also, what is the Antarctican sense of humor like?

Mikey Kampmann: There have been two open mics at the South Pole since I’ve been here, but I haven’t had the energy to perform. I’ve sorta been using this time to take a break from comedy and instead simply focus on being present here during this remarkable time and within this formidable landscape. I have been writing down some jokes though. And I’ve made a few videos with comedy ideas, like Tunnelin’ with Werner Herzog. And I guess I’ve joked a lot about aliens on the blog. That has been my favorite part of the Antarctican sense of humor. My friend and I like to joke speculate about who amongst us here is really a Grey — the name we use for alien. But otherwise it’s a normal place with situational humor, except maybe the situations here are a little more unusual.

Portlandia: What on Earth possessed you to wrest yourself from the youth Utopia of Portland to go live in Antarctica?

Mikey Kampmann: It wasn’t easy. Portland is terribly seductive, which is why I love Portland. When I’m in Portland the rest of the world outside SE Portland doesn’t seem to matter and I’m surrounded by friends and cool shows. Honestly, four months has been a very long time to be away from the home I love, but I had thought about coming to Antarctica for over 3 years and I realized that if I didn’t do it now then I never would. I guess in the end I didn’t want to miss out on coming to the South Pole because I was worried about missing a cool show. And the best part was my friends were incredibly supportive and seemed excited for me. And now, in a way the time has gone by really fast and I feel like I’m returning to Portland with more to offer.

Mikey trading Portland-roasted Legare's coffee for a bottle of vodka and a pistol with "a Russian" at the South Pole.

Portlandia: What’s the first thing you’re going to do when you get back to Portland?

Mikey Kampmann: Definitely a hard question, so many choices. I’ve sorta made a tradition of going to DC Vegetarian food cart to get a vegan bacon cheeseburger every time I come home to Portland. I’m not even vegan. And then after that, I think the first thing I’ll do is go to Clinton St. Theater to hang out with Sloppo and go get a drink next door at the pub.

You can follow Mikey’s adventures in the Antarctic on his blog, Mikey Going Down.

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Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

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Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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