What a lot of people forget about Saturday Night Live is that longtime player and Portlandia star Fred Armisen didn’t start off as a comedian. He spent a good chunk of the ’90s playing in a Chicago post-hardcore punk band called Trenchmouth. So it comes as no surprise at all that when the show decided to do a fake rock-doc sketch about the one British punk musician who liked the late Margaret Thatcher, Armisen assumed the role. And the fake band—Ian Rubbish and the Bizzaros—actually did get the ’77 British punk sound down. The first few seconds of "Hey Policeman" sound like they could have come from any number of classic acts from the era.
Of course, the Bizzaros did deviate in that Armisen’s Johnny Rotten-lampooning Ian Rubbish was quite fond of the Iron Lady, even penning songs like "Maggie Thatcher," where they sing lyrics like "there’s a lady in 10 Downing / Check it out, she’s quite astounding" over a "Janie Jones"-esque beat. And who could forget that touching, Falklands conflict-referencing ditty, "Sweet Iron Lady?" Now, you or the non-Thatcher-hating special someone in your life can own these classics from these fake ’70s punk band absolutely free, thanks to the fact that said fake band recorded and released an EP of songs performed in the skit. You can download it here, at said fake band’s real website, and watch the original sketch below.
Late Night With Jimmy Fallon’s star-studded Downton Abbey sendup, Downton Sixbey (named for the studio in which he films) has been surprisingly entertaining as of late, with special guest stars Whoopi Goldberg, Brooke Shields, Fred Armisen and Carson Daly, who keeps getting killed off by hot-air balloons, asserting ?uestlove as the heir to Downton Sixbey. Jimmy Fallon dons a rather unconvincing British accent and, as Lord Grantham, makes some unfortunate business decisions, including investing in something called the “Shake Weight” and a restaurant franchise called Thank Heaven’s It’s Friday.
This week, we were treated to two new episodes, chock full of dowager-spoofing bon mots (“heir today, gone tomorrow”) and scenes from the “downstairs” writers’ room, where crude puns about knob-polishing and recycling jokes (“Downton has fallen on hard times”) abound. Oh, and the Thomas and O’Brien avatars are nearly perfect. On Wednesday night, following Cousin ?uestlove announcing which of the lord’s daughters he has chosen to marry. The answer will be unsurprising here, and the wedding episode that ensues is equally amusing, especially for fans of the Edwardian melodrama. Here are both, for your mid-morning viewing.
The feminist bookstore of Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen’s imaginations was a wet blanket fixture of Thunder Ant, their comedy troupe, long before Portlandia existed. For NYmag.com’s Vulture blog, comedienne Julie Klausner has brought the duo to a real feminist bookstore that’s actually one of the raddest places in New York City.
Located down on Allen Street off of Houston Street, Bluestockings is a bookstore and cafe supported by volunteers; it’s also ground zero for many a feminist, anti-racist, pro-democracy events.
Klausner and her Portlandia pals scanned the shelves, scoping out books they dig in real life, including Rookie Yearbook One, edited by Tavi Gevinson, for Brownstein, and It Chooses You, by Miranda July, by Armisen. They all manage not to offend anyone … but Fred Armisen did hold the bookstore’s front door open for the ladies … which might have been a major feminist bookstore no no.
Watch the shopping trip to Bluestockings below:
Contact the author of this post at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter.
It almost sounds like a sketch from the upcoming season of Portlandia, doesn’t it? Daniel Keeton, who works at Bend, Oregon craft brewery Boneyard, has created and bottled Dawg Grog, which is, as you might imagine, an organic beer for dogs. Can’t you picture it, with Fred Armisen in a flannel shirt and newsboy cap, serving a bottle to Carrie Brownstein’s dog with a punny celebrity name, like Stone Cold Steve Pawstin or Kermit Ruffins? Or a fake advertisement for the stuff featuring dogs dressed like Hipster Puppies? Anyway.
Frat boys who have actually tried to get their dog drunk will be disappointed by the effects of Dawg Grog, as it does not actually contain alcohol, as that would be animal cruelty what the hell is your problem? But for those who merely wish to give their beloved pet an unusual treat, Keeton and the Dawg Grog team advise pouring it as a side treat or over dry food. The beer includes spent grain from the Boneyard Brewery (whose actual beers for humans include one called one just called “Girl Beer” and a stout named for notorious record promoter Suge Knight), along with vegetable broth, water and a powdered glucosamine supplement including ginger, cinnamon, flaxseed and honey. So it’s a nutritional supplement disguised as a beer, which some of you probably wish existed for humans.
Who knows where Dawg Grog will take the train of canine innovation? Now that they know the taste of beer, soon they’ll want to start playing poker. Oh, fine, I’ll just show myself out.
Is it Friday yet? Portlandia returns with a third season on IFC, and, HOW TIMELY, today they’ve released a hilarious sketch to preview what’s in store for this year. I think you’ll all enjoy this one, because the thing about it is that it’s SO TRUE that it in turn is SO FUNNY. Television! Who can even deal with it anymore, much less talking about it! Let’s add spoilers to the list of major indignities, somewhere between blog slideshow posts and Mason Jar revivalism. How can we possibly go on?!
Start perfecting those handlebar mustaches and putting birds on your tote bags. IFC’s sketch comedy series Portlandia is returning for a third season this January with Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein offering more snapshots into modern bougie-hipster-yuppie-fauxhemian-whatever-subculture-this-is-lampooning-exactly life and (hopefully) more amazing guest stars like last season’s rather incredible mixed bag, which included Tim Robbins, Greg Louganis and Heather Graham.
The new season premieres on IFC on January 4th, 2013, and promises the return of Kyle MacLachlan as the Mayor of Portland and first Special Guest Star Chloë Sevigny, who plays Fred and Carrie’s new roommate. If you can’t wait quite that long, you can watch a “Winter In Portlandia” holiday special on December 14th, in which some of the show’s more memorable characters show you how Portland does the colder months. Bryce and Lisa of “Put A Bird On It!” open an Outlet Hotel, Peter and Nance (“Is it Local?”) try to keep off those holiday pounds and, of course, the feminist bookstore is open.
If you really, really need Portlandia like, right now, though, the first clip of the new season is online for your viewing pleasure. Carrie and Fred cross paths at a meditation class, each with something very, very different on their minds. Watch.
● Mad Men‘s Elisabeth Moss doesn’t think her ex-husband Fred Armisen is as funny as you do. "One of the greatest things I heard someone say about him is, ‘He’s so great doing impersonations. But the greatest impersonation he does is that of a normal person.’ To me, that sums it up," she says. [PageSix Magazine]
● Snooki always wanted a "very nice" engagement ring, and from the sounds of it, that is exactly what she got. [People]
● Megan Fox was surprised by a big, yellow, and slightly phallic figure from her past on Ellen this morning. (SFW!) [JustJared]
● IvyGate has uncovered the totally entertaining or maybe disgusting (probably both) pseudonymous twitter of Scout LaRue Willis, the Brown-educated progeny of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore. Go forth and read, laugh, and hate at your own risk! [IvyGate]
● Miley Cyrus parked her car in a handicapped spot while going to pilates and did not even get a ticket. Kids these days! [PageSix]
● Kathy Griffin will be on Bravo even more starting this April when she launches Anyway, Kathy, her very own weekly talk show. [Vulture]
Though Portlandia has featured a number of memorable sketches and characters, the show’s calling card originates from the very first episode: "Dream of the 90s," the music video in which Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen walk around Portland singing about how everything old is new again in Oregon State. For this season they’ve revisited the same concept in a sketch called "Dream of the 1890s," going back another 100 years to sing about the turn of the 19th century. "Everyone’s kid grew up to be artisan bakers," Armisen cheerfully crows. "Everyone had homemade haircuts and shaved with straight razors."
I won’t ruin all the punchlines, so just watch for yourself. As usual, it’s wry, snippy stuff. You can always catch Portlandia when it airs live on IFC every Friday night at 9:30 P.M.
You can be forgiven for finding Portlandia too realistic to be very funny. The show can seem like a caricature of an "Overheard in Brooklyn" blog, or at its worst a freshman student theatre production about all those damn hipsters. All the talk about birds and bikes and beards, jeez! It’s as easy as shooting bloggers at an open bar.
But it does get some things very, very right, such as the over-validation of Battlestar Galactica, known casually as the only good science-fiction property to ever exist. You’ve probably heard your friends talk about it with some skepticism given way to devotion, just like Fred Armisen’s character in this newly-released Season 2 clip. "It’s not just regular science fiction," he tells Carrie Brownstein"It’s actually good."
Of course, if Armisen and Brownstein had really gotten into it, they would’ve replaced BSG with Game of Thrones — the newest nerdy property to escape the genre ghetto into respectability. By stripping out all of the goofiness and grounding its meticulous mythology in cable TV realism, both of those shows won themselves overwhelming acclaim from people who can talk your ear off about The Wire. To be sure, they are very good. But they’ll always come with caveats, from now until the end of time.
The second season of Portlandia premieres on Friday, January 6, if you’re into that sort of thing.