A few things I love:
I. Fred Armisen
I confess to liking him ever since Fericito started showing up on SNL’s Weekend Update, because while the whole “Ay, Dios mio!” thing may be overly simplistic it just about killed me every time. Now I just like him because of how smart his stuff is. Like Nicholas Fehn, the guy who comes on Weekend Update and riffs off the news headlines. It’s never funny. Like: one never finds a place to laugh. But it’s clear the whole thing is improvised, and I’m always nerdily impressed by the performance.
Now defunct, alas, but while I’ve always been a fan of Corin Tucker’s warble (I read somewhere that the S-K girls call it “the Tool” [turns out I read this on Wikipedia, so who knows]*), Carrie Brownstein has always seemed the coolest of the bunch, especially when in live shows she’d point a fully stretched arm behind her at Janet Weiss during one of her drum breaks. Okay so maybe Janet Weiss is the coolest girl in Sleater-Kinney, but who even enjoys ranking things like that anyway? The real story is that it’s a shame they’re no longer releasing albums, okay?
III. Berkley Illustration
My Portland, Ore., friends Ryan and Lucy have a little side business selling really cool drawings, mostly of various animals wearing formal suits. My friend Sarah once bought me the whitetail deer drawing without knowing I was friends with the guy who drew it, this is how Etsy-famous B.I. is. They have all kinds of animals, from mammals to birds to reptiles and amphibians. Maybe fish? Insects? Not sure. They’re incredibly affordable, provided you go through B.I.’s Etsy site. He’s got a few hyped-up ones for sale through Urban Outfitters so pick some up now before the hipsters take over.
And now: THUNDERANT, a Web-based sketch-comedy “series” starring Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein. The other day I caught up on some newer sketches, and lo and behold there in the background of Feminist Bookstore Ep. 2 I saw a whole display of Berkley Illustration prints.
It’s a great episode, where Tori and Candace go through some CDs to play, assessing them on whether they’re right for a feminist bookstore. Great.
Or check out “Film Club”, which features Fred Armisen playing himself, at one part discussing Truffaut’s 400 Blows with Carrie, and he tells this completely improvised, made-up story about the set:
[Truffaut] was apparently a real dictator on the set. There’s this story that … the script supervisor. [Truffaut] yelled at him and he knocked down the book, and then he picked it up again and he shoved it in his face. And then it fell down again and the script supervisor went to go pick it up again, and then he stomped on it and with the edge of the book he pushed it into his forehead and then it fell? So the guy turned around and he grabbed him by the forehead and knocked him back. And then he opened it up again. And then he lifted him up and he’s like “I’m gonna help you don’t worry about it. We’re done with this.” And he goes, “I’m the script supervisor. What are you doing to me?”
It loses everything in transcription, especially considering that the above passage consists of a ton of fade-cuts, making it clear that Armisen’s improv went on far longer than what we see. It’s no mystery that we laugh at things that aren’t necessarily funny, that sometimes performances are so great or “spot on” that all we can do is laugh at of some kind of delight.
Or maybe it’s just me. I tend to laugh at everything.
* N recently watched a customer service training video that began “Wikipedia defines ‘customer service’ as…” and I suppose we can only expect more of this.