“We have been really been lucky to have a show that was created out of an extension of a friendship,” reveals Carrie Brownstein of working with Fred Armisen on “Portlandia.” In our recent webchat (watch the exclusive video above), she adds, “Our fondness for each other is exemplified in the show. That heartfelt vibe and earnestness permeates all the sketches. He never ceases to amaze me, the depth of his comedic talent.”
“Portlandia” is set in Portland with most of the characters being played by Brownstein and Armisen. With approaching the comedy, Brownstein explains that “what differentiates us from other sketch shows is that we try to build out these characters. You feel that their lives don’t just live in the two minute sketch, but the world of the show. It starts with a relatable idea we try to marry with two interesting characters. Ideally it goes to a place that’s absurd, and even better if it gets to a surreal place. That’s our ideal way of writing and our best sketches follow that.”
The eighth and final season of the show is about to go into production for IFC. On how to wrap up the series she says, “Not all the characters have to die or get pregnant or get married. We did joke about doing all of those things with every single character. Instead, we can just approach it thematically with a nice bookend to what we started out with. We started with this ‘dream of the nineties,’ about these places people lived that felt idyllic. In the eight years since we’ve made this show, we’ve realized that you can’t live in this bubble. Anxiety’s encroached as real world problems have stepped on that idealism.” She jokes that “we’re gonna go out positive.”
One of her favorite sketches from Season 7 was where “Carrie is thrust into this uncomfortable position with a right wing Uber driver. I think there is this vulnerability in that we are always interfacing with strangers. We trust them so much. There’s this enhanced vulnerability we operate in life now. It’s a leap of faith to get in a car with someone who hasn’t been vetted. It was interesting to explore that and take it to an extreme level.” A more surreal sketch that was filmed was “the massage chair one, with Nina and Lance. We filmed it like ‘Misery.’ That was a little bit odd to explore something that was dark. We doubled down on the absurdity a couple of times.”
Brownstein and Armisen have been nominated at the Emmy Awards four of the past five years for Best Variety Series Writing (missing out in 2015). As producers on the program, they have also been nominated for Best Variety Sketch Series in 2015 and 2016.
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