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Fred Armisen of 'Portlandia' thinks it's over for the nerds

The hunks have officially taken over.

You would think by its seventh season, “Portlandia” would start losing steam — but it hasn’t. The quirky sketch comedy series follows the lovable yet eccentric characters who “keep Portland weird,” with Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein playing most of them. From the feminist bookstore owners to the gothic oddballs to ultra bohemian couples, “Portlandia” is a patchwork of relatability and quality laughs. We got to chat with one of its creators and stars, Fred Armisen, about hunks taking over, why Trump isn’t touched on this season and the possibility of a “Portlandia” album.

Where are you calling from?
I don’t know! I have no idea. Just tell me what city I’m in when I leave. I got into New York last night, actually. I’m originally from Long Island but I’ve lived all over.

How does it feel to be in season seven?
It’s the best. I love doing “Portlandia.” We learn more and more every year. We get better at it. I can’t believe my luck. To be going this long — I think of it as my new job still. I’m very fortunate.

Each episode moves so fast and the sketches are chock full of great characters. What is the writing process for a show like this?
Maybe two months? We have the writer’s room. We work really hard on it. We make sure that it has some relevance, that it’s fun — a million things put together so we’re all happy. It’s the opposite of lazy. We work long hours to make sure it has a shelf life. We’ve got a good group.

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Ever since the “Song for Portland” episode, I keep wondering if you guys will ever do a “Portlandia” album, with you and Carrie and all of the guest stars who’ve come on the show. Any chance of that ever happening?
That’s a really great idea. My answer is yes. I think that would be really cool. Ideas like that are so good. It’s actually getting it together that takes a bit of work. But I think it would be worth it.

How did the Run the Jewels collaboration come about?
Carrie had this idea for something called album drop. More and more there’s got to be some sort of stunt with album releases. We started getting our guest stars together and when it seemed like Run the Jewels would be available — and the timing totally worked for their album being released — it was a perfect coincidence. And on top of that they were really funny and great.

A lot of comedy shows are being pretty direct about their disapproval of Donald Trump right now. However, in the episodes I’ve seen so far in this season, it’s a subject you don’t touch on. Any reason for that?
We don’t have the luxury of being a nightly or weekly TV show. We shoot in the summer. We started writing last year in May. Because it takes so long, we can’t afford to get specific. With ours, we need to keep it vague.

The “What About Men” sketch really made me think of Trump supporters — white men out there who feel like their voices aren’t being heard. But then there's the hunks bit. You really think hunks are taking over in our culture?
They already took over! [Laughs] There was a time when hunks were dum-dums, and now they have a sense of humor. They’re smart, they’re comedians, they do it all and they’re so accepted now. They’re taking the thunder away from the nerds and nerds are jealous of that.

What can nerds do?
We need a “What About Nerds” sketch. They’re disappearing. They became so difficult that now they don’t get to be heard at all. There are so many subgenres [like gaming] and they’re disappearing into them.

You’ve played so many characters on this show. Do you have a favorite?
I always relate to the weirdo goth characters. I don’t know why. I love doing them. I wish I could do a whole show with just them.

What do you do when you’re not working on “Portlandia?”
Working on other shows. I never have a day off — ever. I just keep going.

Do you have any advice for people out there getting their start in comedy?
If they’re already doing things on Youtube, they’re already on the right path and doing the right things. That’s the first step. You’re already in great shape. There’s plenty of time. My advice is to always surround yourself with people who make you laugh and most likely you’re making them laugh too. Because then your whole experience all the way through is a fun experience so at least you’re enjoying all of that time.

On that note, what’s it like working with Carrie all these years?
She’s my best friend in the whole world. That is the luckiest thing of my whole life. That is the best thing — everything I love combined that I get to hang out with her and work with her. I don’t know what I could have done in a past life to have deserved such a great experience but it really is on many levels the greatest thing.

The next new episode of “Portlandia” airs this Thursday, Jan. 12 at 10 p.m. on IFC.

 
 
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