Two things become pretty clear within the first few minutes of the oft-talked about IFC sketch show Portlandia: Fred Armisen, the sometime musician and current cast member of Saturday Night Live, is far more funny than his network gig on SNL allows him to be and Carrie Brownstein, his partner on Portlandia better known as the singer/guitarist for Sleater-Kinney and Wild Flag, is probably even funnier than Armisen.
On paper, the show doesn’t seem like it should work beyond an episode or two. A sketch comedy series aimed at and skewering hipsters, set in the hipster Mecca of Portland. Oddly enough those doing the skewering also happen to be big time hipsters themselves. Regardless, the show does work and remarkably well. In fact, you’d have to go back to The State or Kids in the Hall to find a TV show that does pop culture satire this well.
From sketches about nitpicky diners requiring the pedigree of the local-raised chicken they are about to eat to the laugh-out-loud skit featuring Aimee Mann reduced to being a maid for fans of hers, there is not a single bad episode in the entire first season. Along with Mann, everyone from Gus Van Sant to Heather Graham pop by for cameos. Who knew hipsters had a sense of humor?
Portlandia/144 mins./VSC and IFC/2011