Fred Armisen comes to Minneapolis for 'Portlandia'

  • Article by: SARAH HARPER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 14, 2014 - 5:49 PM

The omnipresent TV satirist and “SNL” vet explains how Minneapolis was an inspiration for “Portlandia.”

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Fred Armisen in “Portlandia”

In the past few months, Fred Armisen has been everywhere.

He hugged Bruce Willis in a Super Bowl commercial, guest-starred on the new Fox comedy “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” popped up on the pilot for Comedy Central’s “Broad City,” and, most notably, landed the job of bandleader and “music curator” on his friend Seth Meyers’ “Late Night” debut.

Not to mention he’s touring a few cities right now — including an appearance Tuesday at the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis — to roll out the fourth season of “Portlandia.”

On the IFC series, Armisen and co-star Carrie Brownstein satirize contemporary upscale/hipster/yupster urban life in lighthearted sketches that take everyday occurrences to their absurd extreme.

It’s hard to imagine Armisen, 47, having time for anything more, but we snagged a phone call with the “Saturday Night Live” vet to talk about his time in Minneapolis, his punk-rock roots, and the past and future of “Portlandia.”

“You’re in Minneapolis?” Armisen said immediately upon connecting. “I love Minneapolis a lot.”

Q: Yeah? Tell us about it.

A: I grew up on Hüsker Dü and the Replacements and Prince. [Minneapolis] is one of the earliest inspirations for “Portlandia,” actually. My band [Trenchmouth] was in Chicago but we would go up to Minneapolis because our label was up there. So we’d go play the Uptown [Bar], 7th Street Entry — all the time. We just loved the drive up there and always had really great shows. We’d eat at the Egg & I.

It was my first exposure to that kind of self-made and curated lifestyle. You know, like the little coffee shops, and art galleries, people building record companies out of warehouses and their houses. All of that was sort of like, “Oh, wow, you can actually make a nice life for yourself.”

Q: Speaking of Prince, you had a really good Prince impression on “Saturday Night Live.”

A: Thank you. Well, I’m a huge Prince fan. In fact, when I heard we were going to Minneapolis, I made someone drag me out to Chanhassen to go see his studio.

Q: “Portlandia” feels like a very lighthearted satire — I’m curious about how would you describe your and Carrie Brownstein’s message or the intent behind the show.

A: It’s about our relationships with each other and ourselves, and also about trying to do the right thing, socially or health-wise. It’s about that. It’s trying to lead this sort of self-imposed, curated life. And then the rest of it is kind of just the relationship between Carrie and I.

Q: You’ve been a part of a lot of different types of TV — late-night, cable, sitcoms. If you were to deliver a state of the TV union address, what would you say about this point in time?

  • related content

  • Fred Armisen says he’s fortunate to work with Carrie Brownstein on “Portlandia.”

  • Portlandia Tuesday’s viewing party and Q&A at Cedar Cultural Center is sold out. On TV: 9 p.m. Thursdays, IFC.

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