'Portlandia' Duo Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein Discuss How Their Show Is Influencing Our Culture

Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein talk about the impact of their comedy show.

ByABC News
February 29, 2016, 3:30 PM

— -- “Portlandia,” Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s sketch comedy TV show on IFC that lovingly lambasts the hipster culture of Portland, Oregon, has become a cult favorite, cementing phrases like “Put a Bird on It” in our everyday lexicon.

“I think people see themselves in it and its part of a bigger cultural conversation we’re having about this stuff,” Brownstein said.

Now in its sixth season, “Portlandia” uses deadpan humor to prey on the hipster mores of Portland, the capital of weird, poking fun at everything from artisanal knots to the origins of free-range chicken on a dinner menu to high-brow coffee culture.

“We almost called the ‘Portlandia’ show ‘Stumptown.’ That was the original name,” Armisen said, referring to the real-life Portland-based coffee company.

“The more that I travel, the more that we travel, I just keep finding that city, the aspect of that city, all over the place,” he added.

On the show, Armisen and Brownstein have transformed themselves into various characters -- from hilariously passive-aggressive bookstore feminists to artisan curators with a penchant for “pickling” everything in sight.

The show has now moved beyond its short, sharp skits of earlier seasons to longer tales with Armisen and Brownstein playing exaggerated caricatures of themselves.

“I mean, often it's very drastically off. Sometimes it's just subtly off," Brownstein said, laughing. "And then we take them to a level of absurdism. But it is fun to play a version of ourselves. There's kind of a freedom in that."

Fred Armisen (left) and Carrie Brownstein (center) talk with ABC News' Nick Watt (right) during an interview for "Nightline."
Fred Armisen (left) and Carrie Brownstein (center) talk with ABC News' Nick Watt (right) during an interview for "Nightline."

In this new season, one entire episode deals with a couple in their 40s admitting they would rather watch a music festival from home than attend the event.

“You just want to be somewhere you don’t have to stand at all,” Armisen said.

“Yes. You are just in a line the whole time for the bathroom,” Brownstein added. “I’m thinking about it the entire time. I’m not enjoying myself.”

The hipsters lampooned in all of this seem to be among the show's biggest fans.

“Everywhere I go somebody says something to me. It’s really nice,” Armisen said.

And the comedic duo fully embraces the fact that they identify as hipsters themselves.

“Because we are these people, it’s an exploration, it’s not mean-spirited,” Brownstein said. “We're not making fun of anyone.

“There’s a certain point where you’re in an organic grocery store, you’re at a restaurant that caters to your gluten-free needs, you think, ‘Wow, what a luxury to be able to have this as our problem,’" she continued. “We’re not separate from that. We partially live that kind of existence. But I think we’re also kind of exploring it, we’re questioning it.”

ABC News' Nick Watt contributed to this report