January 21st, 2011
03:04 PM ET
Fred Armisen clearly has a thing for sketch comedy.
Already well known for his portrayal of President Barack Obama, Larry King and others as a cast member on “Saturday Night Live,” Armisen is sharing his talents with the new IFC show “Portlandia.”
The project is an outgrowth of the web series “ThunderAnt,” which Armisen and friend/co-star Carrie Brownstein started a few years ago. The “SNL” star told CNN the city of Portland, Oregon, turned out to be the ideal setting.
“We weren’t sure about it being funny - it’s just such a comfortable place that it’s almost Utopian,” Armisen said. “Carrie is from there and it’s pretty welcoming and open. There was something about it that was welcoming enough that we felt like we could build sketches there and create characters.”
With its beautiful green space, funky shops and cool vibe, it wasn’t hard to draw big names to Portland, he said. Consequently, quite a few stars showed up, including Heather Graham, Kyle MacLachlan, Jason Sudeikis, Aubrey Plaza and Steve Buscemi.
“We didn’t make them the butt of a joke,” he said. “When I do stuff, as strange as it may sound, I try not to make fun of anyone. Like when I am impersonating someone, they are people I like.”
“Portland is a place that we like and we like the people,” he added. “We never did anything to say that these people are foolish, and in fact we are very much like them."
Armisen said the new show is pretty different from his duties on “SNL.”
“The main thing is that it’s not in front of a live audience,” he said. “Being in front of a live audience every Saturday is its own really intense, incredible experience. ['Portlandia'] is more like camping, going to a different city, setting up an office and writing and filming all day.”
"Portlandia" premieres at 10:30 p.m. EST Friday on IFC.
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