'Portlandia's' Fred Armisen Reveals the Inspiration for 'Fart Patio' and the Surprising Film Legend He Hopes to Have as a Guest Star
"Saturday Night Live" fans were bummed that funny guy Fred Armisen made his final appearance as a cast member in the series' 38th-season finale in May, but Armisen's departure certainly doesn't mean he'll be MIA from screens big or small.
He reprised his role as Brainy Smurf in July's sequel "Smurfs 2" and will co-star opposite fellow former "SNL"-er Jason Sudeikis in the upcoming comedy flick "Relanxious." He's the voice of Speedy Gonzales on Cartoon Network's "The Looney Tunes Show" and the voice of Terry the boyfriend on "Out There." And he's hard at work on the fourth season of "Portlandia," the IFC comedy series that has earned for him, co-star Carrie Brownstein, and the show's other writers an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series.
"Portlandia," which Armisen, Brownstein, and a diverse lineup of guest stars — which has included Eddie Vedder, Penny Marshall, Jack White, Sudeikis, Chloë Sevigny, Martina Navratilova, and Bill Hader — film on location in Portland, Oregon, is also nominated for Outstanding Directing for a Variety Series; and earlier this week, it won a juried Emmy for Outstanding Costumes for a Variety Program or a Special.
Shortly after beginning work on the series' upcoming fourth season, Armisen talked to Yahoo! TV about the inspiration for sketches like "Fart Patio," the surprising celebrity he's determined to land as a "Portlandia" guest star, his love of TV, and how he, too, spent the last season of "Game of Thrones" waiting for Joffrey to die.
What is your process for coming up with ideas for the show?
It's pretty traditional, in that we have a writers' room and a bulletin board, and we start talking, and we start sharing notes about things that have happened to us. "Hey, I went on this excursion" or "My building did this" or "I noticed that in car rentals, this happens." Then if we all agree and say, "Oh my God, that happened to me too," then we start circling around: What if? What if that happened to this character, to that character? It just grows from there. That's part of them. Some of them are just insane ideas where someone will say, "I really want to do something where there's a doily store" … that's the more just sort of crazy, who knows why it comes up [idea], and that's most of what we do. Then, as the months go, there will be two or three just last minute ideas that kind of get thrown together.
[Related: Fred Armisen on Leaving 'SNL']
As an example from Season 3, what was the inspiration for the "Fart Patio" sketch, which was a clever spin on standard joke fare?
Well, it was literal. We kept going to this place called Cafe Gratitude in L.A. We were writing in L.A., and it was close to the studio, and it was healthy. "Oh, let's just go to this one healthy place." It really felt like, speaking from experience, we probably had done some farting, and actually my stomach would make so much noise, because it was very raw food. And really delicious, I'm not dissing the restaurant. But my stomach would just make these noises. This isn't hunger … just what is this? And we all shared that. And then, I forget who came up with it, but one of us was just like, fart patio, separate fart room … and then we laughed so hard that at first we thought it couldn't be a sketch, but it haunted us and we just thought, well, maybe there's a way to do it.