Fred Armisen Answers Our Dumb Questions

The SNL and Portlandia star talks comedy, curse words, and how to look fancy in a fist fight.

The SNL and Portlandia star talks comedy, curse words, and how to look fancy in a fist fight.

Photo Courtesy of Christopher Hornbecker / IFC

Season 3 of Portlandia kicks off on IFC on January 4th, but if you can’t wait till then, tune in tonight for a special pre-premiere episode. And if you can’t even wait till then, read our interview with the funny man himself right now!

Who’s your favorite character on Portlandia?

I’d say usually the feminist bookstore ladies, Kenneth and Tony. They’re probably the ones that are easiest, so those are the easiest work days.

What made you choose Portland over, say, Brooklyn or Austin?

I was just familiar with it. I was visiting Carrie [co-star Carrie Brownstein] there for a number of years, and I’ve just always gravitated towards that city. There is something kind of separate about it too – it’s kind of isolated, you know? It’s in the northwest and it’s not like there are a million flights that go there every day, it’s just kind of out there a little bit, which is good. It’s good for making things.

Which Portlandia character do you secretly think is most like you?

I think there’s a side of me that’s a little like the bicycle rights guy. But it’s very internal – sometimes on the outside I’m very friendly and nice and calm, but on the inside there’s just rage.

Is it rage about the same issues?

No, it’s a weird thing. I don’t even know what it is, it’s just this impatience with waiting in line, or waiting at the airport. It’s at the airport that I feel it the most. I just think, let’s go!

It’s everyone’s self-righteous inner-douche.

Yeah, it’s like, everyone wants to be first in line, but I really feel like I should be first in line.

You’ve been on SNL for a decade now. What’s been your personal highlight?

My personal favorite things are not really seen on camera. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, and what it’s been like. For me, the most fun times are when I’ve been in my office, just being on the floor laughing my head off with one of the other writers or my friends. I was thinking of this time that Maya Rudolph and I were writing something together, some sketch that never made it on the air, and she said something and I laughed so hard I couldn’t breathe, I was scared I’d never be able to breathe in again. That to me is what it’s about. Those are my best memories.


Photo Courtesy of Scott Green / IFC

What was the last thing you had to apologize for?

I had to apologize for a text I sent to the wrong person. Luckily it was nothing dramatic, so I just had to send an apology like, “Oh my God that was so not meant for you.” But that was the last time I typed out the word “sorry”.

What’s your favorite curse word?

Oh wow. You know what I like? Goddamnit. I think Goddamnit is the one I feel most, whenever I say it. I really feel it. Where as fuck is a little bit showy, fuck is like, “Hey everybody, I’m mad.” But Goddamnit is in my stomach, just “GODDAMNIT.”

And you get two more syllables for emphasis, as well.

Totally! Fuck is pretty normal, it’s done in a moment and everyone says it. It’s a little quick – with Goddamnit, you know you better commit to saying all the syllables.

What’s the worst hangover you’ve ever had?

I don’t drink.

What was your first car?

I had one handed down to me by my sisters, I think it was called a K car. I think Dodge made those in 1993 or ‘94 or something. I had it for a little while. The first car that I ever bought was a Honda Civic.

Isn’t that Bruce Willis’ girlfriend’s car in Pulp Fiction? The one he runs Marcellus Wallace over with?

Wow, nice trivia on that! Hondas are great, I drove it across country when I moved to L.A.

Do you have a scar that tells a story?

I have a scar on my left eyebrow from when I was a baby. I was really little and I fell into a television set. Not the screen, just the corner, and it was a TV, which I feel is symbolic because I really have always loved TV. My dad took me to the hospital and I got stitches, but that scar is still there.

Do you have a party trick?

I like to do pretend magic. Sometimes I’ll just do coin stuff that isn’t magic at all.

Photo Courtesy of Danielle Mathias / IFC

What’s the biggest thing you’ve ever put in your mouth?

Let’s see… there are some sandwiches and burgers, that when I’m really hungry I eat very quickly, so there have been some where it was not an attractive sight of me wolfing down some huge burger. That’s the honest answer.

What’s the one thing to remember in a fist fight?

Think about the way you look: Make sure you have a cool facial expression in case anyone’s taking pictures or watching. Also, wear a nice shirt – if you’re going to be in a fist fight, you don’t want to look like you’re on a dock somewhere, you want to look like you’re a classy fighter.

Who was the last person to see you naked?

I can’t divulge that. I would love to partake in that, but that’s too personal.

That was a very nervous and excitable giggle you did when I asked you.

I was actually thrown by that, I was like, wow, that’s a real question. Yeah… that might be too personal. But thanks for asking, I appreciate it!

Finish this sentence: “If I ruled the world for a day, I would…”

I would make all stores and all businesses open 24 hours a day, all restaurants, 24 hours a day. I live in New York City and when I walk into a restaurant and it’s closed at 10 pm, it is unacceptable. I don’t understand things being closed – post office, everything should be open all the time. Subway routes, travel, there should be flights in the middle of the night. Everything should be 24 hours, everything. I want to run my errands at 1 o’clock in the morning!

Does that have anything to do with the unusual working hours you have at Saturday Night Live?

Yeah, my working hours are crazy. They’re in the middle of the night. But it’s incredible, I’m like, is this New York City? I thought this was the city that never sleeps! Bullshit!

To be fair, Midtown is the section of New York City that never actually wakes up.

No, never. You can walk blocks and there’s just not a diner, anywhere, or a deli.

On the other hand, there are a lot of ATM’s to choose from.

Oh my God, if your snack is cash, then you are in good shape!

See Fred Armisen spend $848 of Maxim’s money here!

A Chat with Icon Artie Lange