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'Portlandia' Star Fred Armisen On Obama, Guest Stars & Hipsters

Date January 06, 2012
'Portlandia' Star Fred Armisen On Obama, Guest Stars & Hipsters

Fred Armisen is a busy man. The actor/writer/producer walked the red carpet on Thursday at New York's American Museum of Natural History, where he premiered the second season of his IFC comedy, "Portlandia." The venue was an appropriate spot to showcase the work of a marvel of modern comedy and time management.

Not only does Armisen, a self-proclaimed workaholic, write and star in the TV version of "Portlandia," the gentle, beloved hipster send-off that he co-created with Carrie Brownstein, he tours nationwide with a live stage show version of the cult hit. That'd be a full time job for some, but Armisen is also known to audiences worldwide as a leading cast member of "Saturday Night Live" and the foremost expert on impersonating President Obama. HuffPost caught up with Armisen, who spoke about his relationship with his audience, his dream of casting Woody Allen as a guest star on "Portlandia" and how "SNL" will handle the coming Presidential election.

There's so much internet love for the show. Do you follow that?

At the moment it's best not to, just to let it wash over and let pass. We've been busy but everything I've seen, I'm psyched about. It's a nice thing; I don't take it for granted. I love it, it's such an exciting time in general.

You're not lampooning people per se, but you are playing with the "hipster" identities of the same people who are your fans. How do you find the balance between goofing on people but still keeping them on your side?

It's like, because we are like that, it's very easy. We know we are like that, and as long as it's real, I think we're in good shape. As long as we're not making up some affectation that doesn't exist ... We like to keep it somewhat realistic. Dreamy.

Switching over to "SNL," how would your Obama approach a debate with Santorum?

With coolness. He's so steady. I love it.

It hasn't been an easy three years. Do you feel like your impression of Obama has changed at all, have you developed it?

Yeah, I've tried to do it more as myself. Because, as I get to know him, as I become familiar, just kind of warming up to that.

Are you surprised by what happened in Iowa?

Yeah, weren't you shocked? I thought it was Gingrich, and then was like, what? What happened? I'm not good at following politics.

A lot of people, and comedians in general, you're seeing more crossover to drama. Is that something you want to do?

That's awesome. [For me], it's tricky, because you don't want to do too much. It's whatever comes my way.

You have so many guest stars on the show this season. Beyond how you get them, how do you come up with their characters? Once you get big names, you have to go all out.

We think of a role to fill and we think of our friends, people we know. [Carrie] knows Eddie Vedder, Tim Robbins, and we say 'Hey, do you want to come do this?' And they say yeah.

A lot of times it's not comedians.

It's good that way, it's more interesting ... We had a role with Steve Jones from the Sex Pistols. He's in a scene with Tim Robbins. personally, it makes me really happy. On the outside, I'm like, hey cool, but on the inside I'm like, ahh!

Who gave you the most geek out fanboy moment this season?

"Battlestar Galactica." I flipped out. It was unreal.

More than Steve Jones?

Not more. Steve Jones I was in high school. I went nuts. I told him, the Sex Pistols were it.

Related on HuffPost:

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