Fred Armisen & Carrie Brownstein Q&A: ‘Portlandia’
"Sometimes there will be a really silly idea, and we almost want to throw it away," admitted "Portlandia" creator/star Fred Armisen during our recent webcam chat (watch below), which also created his partner in mirth Carrie Brownstein. As he elaborated: "There’s not just a trust of each other but a trust of the dumb idea. Like something that only because it makes us laugh, we think it might have some value to it."
As for the silliest stuff, Brownstein recalled, "Pull-out king is so bizarre. We had all these very real things [like observations about stay-at-home dads], but then we were able to couch all that in a highly absurd sketch that involved the double meaning of pulling out: the pull out sofas and the other version of pulling out. And somehow despite that being the wildest sketch we’ve done, I’ve had more people come up to me after watching season four saying they could really identify with Nina and Lance. That’s also strange because we’re playing opposite gender in that, so there’s so many ways people would not understand that sketch. We made something very strange, really relatable."
Armisen readily admitted that producing a sketch show in which everything takes place inside one world is challenging: "Sometimes jumping around can actually be easy. The way that 'SNL' jumps around, the relief of going to another place gives you some mileage. This takes a little bit of concentration for me personally."
For Brownstein, “having certain parameters are good, so you have certain boundaries to push up against. It feels innovative, and we’re not so limited by it has to be a sketch or it has to feel like a sitcom. It keeps it grounded; it keeps it very earnest and makes sure it has heart when we are always circling back to these characters."
The fourth season of their hit IFC variety series recently wrapped. It earned Emmy Award nominations last year and in 2012 for both writing and directing and won in 2011 and 2013 for costumes. Will "Portlandia" finally break through in the Best Variety Series race at the Emmys?