As we've previously written about on this blog, we are big fans of the IFC comedy series Portlandia starring SNL's Fred Armisen and rocker Carrie Brownstein. Therefore, we were very excited to attend a special event entitled "Portlandia Live" earlier today. It was part of The New Yorker Festival going on in New York City this weekend, and was originally advertised as "Join Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein for an afternoon with the IFC show Portlandia featuring songs, sketches, and surprises, as well as a conversation with Margaret Talbot [writer for The New Yorker]". As you might expect, we were very excited to attend this event and see what Fred and Carrie would do on stage!
We got there shortly before the show started, and were disappointed to learn that all of the good seats were taken, so we had to sit on the side where we couldn't really see their faces (hence the bad photos). Then Fred and Carrie came out, along with co-creator/director Jonathan Krisel. There wasn't really any songs or sketches as promised, but they did talk about some very funny topics and did some interesting things with the audience. First, each of the three of them asked general questions to the audience and asked them to raise their hands if they agreed with their statements. They then asked that for one response, they keep their hand raised, and asked more and more specific questions, until only one person's raised hand remained. They then asked the three lucky winners to come up on stage, while they engaged in a funny discussion on what decade will be remembered as the greatest. (The general consensus was the 1990's, as the main point of Portlandia can be summed up by episode 2 opening sketch "The Dream of the 90's is Alive in Portland".) The three audience members on stage didn't really contribute much to the discussion, so we weren't really sure why they bothered to bring them up, but it was an interesting bit nonetheless.
We were then treated to an exclusive video of one of the sketches from the show's upcoming 3rd season. The very funny sketch featured Fred and Carrie as the recurring characters Kath and Dave (the couple who freed the dog at the restaurant in season 1 and appeared in the "AO River!" sketch in season 2) as they tried to shoot a video of themselves in their backyard reviewing a tent kit as they put it together. As you might expect, hilarity ensued. It was great being one one of the first to get to see a piece of season 3, and we're really excited to see the rest of the season when it debuts in January!
After that, they did another interesting thing with the audience, where they asked the crowd if there was anyone there who was seriously thinking about moving to Portland. A few hands went up, and after a few follow up questions, they narrowed it down to one person who actually has an internship lined up in Portland and is looking for a place to live. A short while later, they asked the audience if anyone had a personal object on them that they'd be willing to part with, and after various audience members offered up many random things, the winning object was a ceramic cacao (a popular catchphrase from one of the show's most memorable sketches). The owner of the ceramic cacao said that it was given to him as a gift since he sells chocolate. Fred told him to sign the cacao, and then Fred, Carrie, and Jonathan all signed it as well. They then auctioned it off to the audience, starting at $5. The winning bid was for $100. After the exchange was made, Fred announced that the money was going to the woman who was moving to Portland to help pay for her move. He gave her the cash, and everyone applauded.
Next, the New Yorker writer joined them on stage, and asked them a series of questions. After she finished, they opened up questions to the audience. As is usually the case with these types of things, we can never thing of anything to ask at the time, and then after it's over, we think of lots of questions we should have asked. ("I heard that there will be a holiday special airing this December, what can we expect to see?", "Lorne Michaels is an executive producer, how involved is he in the show?" "Many of Fred's SNL co-stars have appeared on the show [Jason Sudeikis, Krisen Wiig, and Andy Samberg]. Did you ask them to appear or did they ask to be a part of it? Any other SNL stars lined up for season 3?") Oh well, maybe next time.
Overall, while the event wasn't quite what we were expecting, it was great to see Fred and Carrie live in person as themselves, and the show was a lot of fun. Really looking forward to season 3 of Portlandia in January! Only 3 more months!