Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein mock hipsters in the IFC original comedy series Portlandia.
Portlandia Live, a touring show hosted by Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein in support of their IFC hit which enjoyed a sold-out set last night at the Hideout was perfect in that it was a tidy evening of performance, video clips and comedy (with a bird on it). I liked it a lot.
It started with a videotaped word from Portland's mayor (or should I say Portlandia's mayor), played by Kyle McLaughlin. Actually, the show started with technical difficulties. But after those were resolved, McLaughlin offered a direct on-screen welcome to members of the audience. It was a nice touch. Armisen came out onstage after the clip ended. Meanwhile, a lady standing next to me in the back of the room started shouting out, "A-O River! A-O River!" It was Brownstein. She uttered the distress call as she waded through the crowd, a nod to a sketch from season two.
Brownstein and Armisen pretended to have a playful feud over text messages they'd sent to each other earlier in the day, in which Armisen sent Brownstein passionate missives like, "My love, I cannot wait to see you at the venue. Yours constantly, Fred," while Brownstein replied, "Dear Sir or Madam: Of all the people I know, you are one of them.—a citizen." It was pretty funny.
Next, the duo brought out their band and broke into Dream of the 90s, a signature sketch from season one. Afterward, Armisen made a nod to Wicker Park (although that bastion of urban cool is as dated as the 90s; he should've referenced current hipster epicenters like Logan Square or Pilsen instead).
The first sketch video clip of the evening was a bit from the new season, a sequel if you will, called Dream of the 1890s. It parodied the fact that the new cool is turn-of-the-century trends like handlebar mustaches, chipping away your own ice and knitting clothes. One thing I noticed was how fun it was to watch these clips with a group of people instead of in front of my Mac during lunch break. They showcased season-two video clips several times throughout the night. I won't spoil them here, but look out for a hilarious guest spot from Kristen Wiig.
Each stop of the tour includes special guests, and in Chicago it included Jeff Tweedy's two sons and Tavi Gevinson, the blogger behind Style Rookie. This was a sweet, albeit lightweight segment, especially given that Brownstein and Armisen asked them questions about Chicago, of which they knew very little. Still, kids say the darndest things.
Much of the evening was devoted to getting to know Armisen and Brownstein, including slideshows from their childhoods and a Q&A session. One thing we learned is that Brownstein has ample comic chops and isn't afraid to flex them (also, she was born in Illinois). We also learned that, while a resident of Chicago, Armisen was mugged in Rogers Park, and that the duo had tried to get R.Kelly as their special Chicago guest.
The show ended with more live music, and not of the parody kind. I bought a poster and went home happy.