Fred Armisen Brings a Live Portlandia Viewing to the Observatory
It's hard to name one other television show that has brilliantly crystallized the humor and absurdity of contemporary lifestyle trends than Portlandia. Created by Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein--veteran musicians and close friends--the two pooled together their collective experiences of Portland and have generated a successful format for satirizing some of the most innocuous quirks about the city and the millenial generation as a whole.
Four seasons since their debut in 2011, Portlandia has become a cult hit with its iconic one-liners ("Put a bird on it!"), awesome guest stars, and various recurring characters played by Armisen and Brownstein, like the gender-swapping roles Lance and Nina, aging punks Spike and Iris, and of course, feminist bookstore Women & Women First owners Toni and Candace.Last Saturday night, Armisen came down to the Observatory in Santa Ana to extend to fans an exclusive first look of this season's upcoming episode 8, and engaged audiences in a hilarious Q&A session full of memorable moments and insightful answers.
Season 4 of Portlandia has, strangely, seen the lowest rate of guest stars to date, compared to the cavalcade of stars in Season 3. Episode 8 saw a lot of the usual characters from seasons past, with plenty more risks being taken in the sketches that paid off. As most Portlandia fans will stress- "No Spoilers!"- but here's a brief overview of Episode 8 fans can look forward to when it premieres Thursday on IFC.
The set up sketch for the episode involved Fred and Carrie's yuppie parents characters as they realize their lives have been lacking in wild exploits and experience in drugs, so they set up an elaborate plan to consume drugs (although it's never specified what drugs), but make sure they would safely be able to resume their old lives when it was over--going so far as to suggest getting passports in case they wake up in Mexico or somewhere else--for the benefit of being able to brag to their friends of their worldliness and travel expertise.
Other skits in the episode include Queens of The Stone Age guitarist Josh Homme playing Carrie's gay brother (a hilarious ironic twist, considering Homme's controversial use of gay slurs at a concert a few years ago), feminist bookstore's Toni and Candace having a run-in with Portland PD, and seasoned Portland punks Spike and Iris discovering their local Thai food restaurant, declared "Best Thai Food" by alt-weekly rag Bridgetown Weekly, is run by the same family who runs Bridgetown Weekly (HA!).
At the end of the episode, Armisen, clad in his usual blazer attire and signature frames, came out and welcomed the audience to take pictures of him, jokingly striking poses to appear more dazzling and punk rock. Audience members then crowded to form a line to ask Armisen questions. One young lady stated that she had driven 10 hours from law school in San Francisco to come down and meet Armisen, others were Portland transplants who appreciated seeing familiar sights of their town on TV, and some audience members simply wanted to tell Armisen he was their hero. Armisen could only respond with a humble and gracious "Thank you," as the sound of audience members' "Awwws" filled the room.
It was also apparent that there were a lot of female fans of Fred Armisen. One such fan showed Armisen her Portlandia tattoo that referenced the Peter and Nance "Timbers" sketch with "Byaaaay!" another asked to perform the "Cacao to Cacao" bit with Armisen; going the extra mile, Armisen donned red lipstick and spoke in his high-pitched Nina voice, and in a bold move, the young lady threw herself at Armisen and planted on him a long kiss, afterwards taking a chug of her tall can of beer and throwing her arms in the air exclaiming, "STEVE HOLT!"
"I don't remember the beer," Armisen quipped.