Cast members (including Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen) from the IFC TV show "Portlandia," which sends up farm-to-table foodies, militant cyclists and other Northwest stereotypes, play Wednesday at the Showbox at the Market. The show is sold out
Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen are not making fun of you.
Even you — militant cyclist, farm-to-table foodie and bird-loving DIY-er.
Though the characters who live in Brownstein and Armisen’s hilariously earnest IFC sketch-comedy show “Portlandia” — coming to Seattle in a sold-out live show Wednesday — are born of very real Northwest stereotypes, Brownstein says the only people getting a ribbing are Brownstein and Armisen themselves.
“We embody those characteristics,” said Brownstein, calling from Portland. “Even the ones that seem extreme, I think stem from part of our personalities.”
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After a successful, six-episode first season (series two begins Jan. 6), the show’s co-creators decided to connect with fans live, primarily as themselves. Their six-city “Portlandia: The Tour” is sold out at every stop.
“It’s going to be more of an evening with Fred and Carrie than a live sketch show,” Brownstein said, adding that a lot of the characters portrayed in the show “don’t know how to exist outside of Portland.”
There will be film clips, music and mystery guests — different musicians or writers in every city. It’s an attempt, she said with a laugh, to localize each show.
The idea of localizing a show about a very particular city seems funny at first blush. But the reality is, aspects of Portland live in most left-veering enclaves: Austin, Brooklyn and, of course, Seattle. Which is why the TV show, which paints Portland as a haven for young indie idealists, has found audiences outside Rose City.
“What has become very common is the idea of these curated experiences, people seeking out and wanting to feel unique, wanting the shops they go to, the restaurants they go to, the coffee they drink, the brands they use, to cater to that uniqueness, even if it means following a strange, esoteric set of rules or doing something a little different,” said Brownstein, who grew up in Redmond. “Even though a New Yorker might not recycle the way we do out here, they definitely understand the notion of specialness.”
“Portlandia” started as a series of online videos, a way for longtime friends Armisen (of “Saturday Night Live” fame) and Brownstein (of defunct punk band Sleater-Kinney and current indie-rock supergroup Wild Flag) to play around. In July 2010, they pitched it to IFC and SNL’s Lorne Michaels’ studio, Broadway Video, and got two yeses.
The show, in some ways, is the perfect outlet for the multitalented Brownstein, 37, who also spent three years as an NPR music writer.
“The improvisational aspect has the spontaneous nature that music has, especially live performance,” she said. “It also gives me a bigger range because I’m able to embody and explore all these kinds of people that I’ve always wanted to get to know and parts of myself I’ve always wanted to dig deeper into.
“There’s an element of ‘Portlandia’ that allows a little bit of commentary without being didactic or overly serious. I’m still able to be thinking about the big picture and putting some of those ideas into sort of ridiculous, weird moments.”
Joanna Horowitz: firstname.lastname@example.org