Fred Armisen: Comedy for Musicians but Everyone is Welcome
Charlyne Yi, Kate Teague
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Fred Armisen is one of the most diversely talented performers working today with credits that run the gamut from acting, producing, and writing in both comedy and music.
He is the co-creator, co-writer and co-star of IFC’s PORTLANDIA alongside Carrie Brownstein. He received an Emmy® nomination for “Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series” in 2014 and a nomination for “Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series” in 2012, 2013, and 2014. In 2015, the show received an Emmy nomination for “Outstanding Variety Sketch Series.” In 2013, Armisen, along with the other writers, won a Writers Guild Award for “Outstanding Comedy/Variety Series,” they were nominated again in 2014. PORTLANDIA received prestigious Peabody Award for excellence in 2011. The critically- acclaimed show recently finished its sixth season, and the seventh season will begin airing next year.
Armisen’s most recent venture is his new IFC comedy, DOCUMENTARY NOW!. The show is a curated series of half-hour documentaries and biopics, each about a completely fictitious subject. The show is returning for its second season later this year. Meyers is an executive producer for the series along with Armisen and Hader, who play all of the primary roles. Additionally, Armisen recently teamed up with Lorne Michaels’ Broadway Video, NBCUniversal Telemundo, and fellow SNL alum Horatio Sanz to create a digital comedy channel aimed at the English-speaking Hispanic audience called MAS MEJOR. The channel launched in early January and includes a weekly short-form premium comedy series and other topical video and editorial content.
On the big screen, Fred can next be heard as the voice of Kraang in Dave Green’s TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS. The film is slated to be released by Paramount June 3rd, 2016. This past February, Armisen starred alongside Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Penélope Cruz, Christine Taylor and Kristen Wiig in ZOOLANDER 2, the sequel to the hit 2001 comedy ZOOLANDER. In February 2014, Armisen was named band leader of the 8G Band on LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS. The band, curated by Armisen, includes members of indie rock bands Les Savy Fav and Girls against Boys.
An eleven season veteran of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, Armisen has engaged audiences with memorable impressions and characters including world leaders like President Barack Obama or Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the popular digital short “Iran So Far Away” to “Weekend Update” fixtures like political comedian Nicholas Fehn or half of the songwriting team of Garth and Kat (with Kristen Wiig) to name a few. He closed out his last season in the guise of British punk rocker Ian Rubbish with a star- studded performance of the original song “It’s a Lovely Day.”
He has appeared in countless feature films including 7 DAYS IN HELL, ADDICTED TO FRESNO, EASY A, THE ROCKER, CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC, EUROTRIP, and THE PROMOTION as well as lending his voice to the feature THE SMURFS. He has also appeared in the films TENACIOUS D IN THE PICK OF DESTINY with Jack Black, BABY MAMA with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, THE EX with Zach Braff and Jason Bateman, and in Will Ferrell and Adam McKay's ANCHORMAN: THE LEGEND OF RON BURGUNDY .
On the small screen, he has made guest appearances on NEW GIRL, UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT, MAN SEEKING WOMAN, THE AWESOMES, MODERN FAMILY, DIFFICULT PEOPLE, BROOKLYN NINE-NINE, 30 ROCK, HOUSE OF LIES, SUPER FUN NIGHT, BROAD CITY, and PARKS AND RECREATION, and the cable comedy shows THE SARAH SILVERMAN SHOW, HUMAN GIANT, and TIM AND ERIC AWESOME SHOW, GREAT JOB! He was also seen in the smash kids show YO GABBA GABBA on Nickelodeon and did voice over guest spots on ARCHER and CHOZEN.
His career began as a musician in the Chicago-based post-punk band Trenchmouth as well as playing with the Blue Man Group. His transition to comedy came with the 1998 underground short film Fred Armisen's Guide to Music and SXSW which followed him through the Austin, Texas "South by Southwest Music Festival" posing as a music journalist. In 2006, he interviewed Cat Power for the influential music website Pitchfork.com and later combined his love for music and comedy by creating the role of drummer Jens Hannemann and releasing an instructional DVD, Complicated Drumming Technique, in 2007. Armisen has landed on Rolling Stone's "Hot List" and has also been included several times on ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY's "Must List” in regards to his many projects.
Armisen splits his time between Portland, New York, and Los Angeles.
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