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Friday, December 28, 2012

Talkin' with Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein: Sneak Peek at Portlandia's New Season

Posted By on Fri, Dec 28, 2012 at 7:30 AM


Portlandia, everyone's favorite sketch comedy show based in Portland, officially returns January 4 for its new season.

Portlandia doesn't pull any punches when it comes to mocking hipsters, city slickers, punks, and several other sub-cultures. The best comedy comes from keen observations, and when it comes to underground music and all things hipsterdom, few people on TV are as on-point as Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein.

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Fred Armisen, who dropped out of college to play drums in bands like Chicago's post-hardcore outfit TrenchMouth, said the reason they can make those observations, and why they enjoy doing so is because, "We are from those communities."

The ribbing, however truthful and brutal, isn't mean-spirited though, according to Carrie Brownstein, Armisen's comedy partner and co-star of Portlandia.

"I think one thing that keeps this show from being cynical and mean-spirited is that we're inside these worlds. We're not on the outside looking in and targeting people. Like, we are these people. It's a world we love -- but also one that we know the parts of it that can seem kind of ridiculous or pretentious," Brownstein said.

Brownstein gave an example that any San Franciscan involved in a music scene could relate to.

"I mean really every invitation that I was getting for a while was to one of my friends' DJ nights. It just seemed like every one of my friends was DJing. Even in my mind I was like, "I could DJ." It seems like such a possibility, and a desirable thing to do. But yes, we also know the ways the world can seem like sort of overly precious or obnoxious. But we're very fond of them."

If you've ever spent time in a recording studio, you've also met the stereotypical guy who's obsessed with the mics. Armisen's depiction of a crazy studio mic guy in the new season is hilarious. We asked if it was based on one certain person.

"It's like every guy I've ever known," Armisen said, explaining how his time in Chicago inspired the character.

"Chicago has a lot of recording studios, and a lot of people just run recording studios successfully ... still! And I just feel like every time I'm around them, and I'm included in this even though I don't have a studio, I engage in conversations. It's always conversations about microphones. It's like it always, always comes up and it's some German microphone and how expensive it was and having to have it shipped. I remember one guy talking about how he had to dismantle one at customs at the airport. I like those conversations, but I think the people who aren't into studios, I'm like what must this sound like, this must be the most inane conversation ever," Armisen said.

The new season is jam-packed with guest stars that will surely excite you, and gives expanded storylines to the most-liked characters of the previous seasons, all while continuing to make witty critiques of hipster culture. Tune in to IFC on Jan. 4.

For more events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section. Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF and like us on Facebook.
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About The Author

Matt Saincome

Matt Saincome

Matt Saincome is SF Weekly's former music editor.

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