IFC”s bizarro comedy “Portlandia” recently wrapped up its fourth season and is currently slated to return for season five sometime in 2015.
The sketch comedy show stars SNL alum Fred Armisen and musician-turned-comedian Carrie Brownstein as they take on various roles each week, lovingly skewering all things Portland.
The setting is merely a jumping off point for comedy, and while there is certainly plenty of Portland-based humour, the real laughs come from Armisen and Brownstein’s wonderful chemistry while in character.
On a Quora thread, Armisen and Brownstein revealed how they keep the show fresh and off-the-cuff.
“Portlandia is a scripted show in terms of narrative but we improvise about 80% of the dialog,” Brownstein said. We like to have an infrastructure in terms of story and character, parameters in which to work and explore. One thing that is wonderful about improvising is that it makes the entire essence or heart of a scene mutable; the tangent can become the center, and we can be surprised as performers and thus so too can the audience.”
Armisen estimated the spontaneity is even higher: “I would say like 90%, although we usually have a script to use as a guideline.”
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