Sunday, May 19, 2013


I was flipping around on TV the other day and stumbled across a commerical for yet another horrible sit com.  It is set to premiere this summer!  (Never a good sign when the show premieres while 2/3 of the potential audience is out camping).  Fortunately, in this day and age, we don't have to settle for crummy, run-of-the-mill sit coms.  I turned off the TV and remembered a DVD I had grabbed a while ago.  (Well, okay, I turned back on the TV; I hadn't really thought that through).  I had heard about a quirky, arty show called Portlandia which originally aired on IFC back a couple of years ago.  I checked out the DVD of season 1.  

If you like Kids In The Hall, then you will probably like this show.  It is really, really weird.  Really weird.  Like "crushing your head" with your thumb and forefinger weird.  I always thought that Kids In The Hall was 20% brilliant and 80% weird.  This show is like that.  I guess it is no surprise since Lorne Michaels is involved in the show (as a producer), as he was on Kids In The Hall.  I doubt Michaels is sitting there for hours reviewing scripts, but it definitely has a similar feel. 

It stars Fred Armisen, who you might have seen from Saturday Night Live.  Although he has been on SNL for over 10 years, Armisen have never really been a household name.  On Portlandia, Armisen plays a number of characters, along with Carrie Brownstein, who was (and is) a musician, but also a very funny actress. 

Portlandia is basically a sketch show; each little five or six-minute sketch is absurd and off the wall.  The season opens, for example, with a music video about how stuck in the 90s Portland is, and then dives in to a couple who spend an eternity bombarding the waitress at a restaurant about the living conditions of the free-range, organic chicken that they are about to order from the menu.  After fifty or so questions about the chicken, they cannot bring themselves to order it and must instead drive thirty or so miles out of town to check the farm for themselves.  It is hilarious. 

I must say, for a small-budget show with no laugh track, shot on various locations throughout Portland, this show is worth a shot if you are in a weird mood and like weird sketches.  Did I mention it was weird?