If you still haven’t seen “Portlandia”, one of your friends has probably recommended it to you. You might say that it’s the perfect television show about hipsters, made by hipsters. It is doing really well in the United States, more so if we keep in mind that this is a very specific audience and that there are endless cultural references that many people might miss. In part, it serves a purpose similar to that of our column “Down With Hipsters”: it dissects different aspects of the indie universe - from music to vintage clothing - with an amazing sense of humour and plenty of self-criticism. Fred Armisen, a usual on “Saturday Night Live”, and Carrie Brownstein, Wild Flag vocalist and guitarist (former member of Sleater-Kinney), are the creators of this adventure - where they don’t miss the slightest opportunity to laugh at themselves.
Although a few weeks ago we gave you five reasons to love “Portlandia” (when they started to show it in Spain, on Canal +), we wanted to speak with the writers so that they could tell us a little more about how they came up with the idea. Since Carrie is off touring with Wild Flag right now, Fred Armisen was kind enough to speak to us. The comic is responsible for a lot of our belly laughs while watching the program’s sketches. He plays multiple roles including a run-down hippie, a radical feminist book shop owner - whom we tried unsuccessfully to speak to - the demure girlfriend of a very macho Brownstein, and a diligent father who is trying to get his child’s nursery to play only Kraftwerk music. So we thought it would be a good idea to ask him about some of them, as well as about music and the series that he likes now, the concept of the “hipster with the thick glasses”, whether he broke Joanna Newsom’s harp, and whether he would prefer to live in the 90s. So if you have yet to immerse yourself in his world, it’s about time you did so.
Here in Europe we may have a certain idea about how Portland is watching the series. But could you please tell us what you find so interesting about this city?
The way it looks. Dark green. Brown and grey. It looks sturdy. Lots of bridges. And the people are lovely.
How do you come up with the sketches? Are the people or situations we see in “Portlandia” something that has happened to you?
Some of them are. Some of them are obviously made-up. The housekeeper one with Aimee Mann… something similar to that happened to Carrie.
There is one particular sketch in the second season that I find absolutely fantastic: the guy doing a performance in a canoe. Please tell us more about it—it’s quite confusing.
It's from a real video we saw! We couldn't believe it. It's a real thing. This guy in a tuxedo canoe-dancing to "Lady In Red". A crowd was applauding.
What character in “Portlandia” is similar to the real Fred Armisen?
They are all a bit like me.
Who would you go out with one night?
Spyke, the bicycle rights guy.
Imagine yourself trapped in an elevator for hours with Toni of Women And Women First. What would happen?
She would ignore me and keep reading her book.
Ok, let me ask a question to Toni. Now that the girl who looks so much like Aubrey Plaza is out of the store, what would you tell her parents? How freaked-out are you about those teenage girls taking pole-dancing classes?
I imagine Toni would ignore them and keep reading her book.
Toni, please tell us what you think about high heels, make-up, bikini waxing, manicures and all that stuff.
Toni! Ignore the question! They are trying to make you angry!
How did you achieve this really nice connection with Carrie? Have you known her for long?
I've known her like 9 years. I can't describe how. It's just a lucky thing in my life.
How does the process for picking guest stars work? Do you guys ask them directly? Have some people approached you?
Both. Sometimes through agents. Many times it is friends of ours.
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