It is well and good that Julia was free to accompany me to Wednesday’s premiere screening of IFC’s “Portlandia,” as she is in my “peer group” and it would have been terrible to have to explain to someone younger why I was LOLing at a throwaway line about the Jim Rose Circus during the musical segment,”Dream of the ’90s,” which opens the new sketch comedy series.
“Portlandia,” the brainchild of SNL’s Fred Armisen and musician Carrie Brownstein, skewers the sort of crunchy, granola-y lifestyle choices and slacker ethos that have never quite disappeared, and proves their is still comedic mileage in spoofing feminist bookstores and organic, free-range farms, aging rockers and DIY enthusiasts. Especially when the vignettes hew toward the weirder and more character-based, rather than a more staid set-up/punchline formula. (Think “Kids in the Hall” or “The League of Gentlemen.”)
The event, held at the Edison Ballroom, was much like the show itself, a mix of the rock and comedy worlds. Oh, there is Jason Sudeikis (who has a cameo in the pilot as a Messianic organic farmer) and Jack McBrayer of “30 Rock,” and then look there is JD Samson of Le Tigre and Annie Clark of St. Vincent. Hey, Stephen Merchant is hanging around the back bar and Todd Barry is just sort of wandering around.
Servers dressed in flannel shirts passed around Oregon wines and craft beers, and a deliciously deadly vodka concoction made with ginger beer.
A Teaser for the upcoming season of the show featured cameos by Aimee Mann and Kyle Maclachlan.
The Portland-based band The Thermals played a tight, energetic set to cap the night.
After the band, there was definitely that post-concert, green room vibe. There was a bottleneck to reach the bathroom, and the famous comedians who lingered were chatting with seductive, doe-eyed, younger ladies; it was a scene that verged perilously close to one that might be comedic fodder for the very show they came to support.
["Portlandia" debuts on IFC on Friday, January 21st at 10:30 pm. You can also stream the first episode on Hulu for a limited time.]
After the jump, watch “Dream of the ’90s,”which includes the line “Portland is a city where young people go to retire”–I mean! (Also, don’t we all secretly want a do-over of the last eleven years, like, sometimes?)