Surprise Emmy Nominee Fred Armisen: ‘I Can’t Believe I Get to Do Comedy’

The “Portlandia” star is stunned by his show’s six nominations


Fred Armisen didn’t get any Emmy nominations when he was a cast member of the most-nominated show in Emmy history, “Saturday Night Live.” But voters must have warmed to him, because Armisen was one of the big surprises in this year’s voting, landing a nomination in the high-profile Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series category for “Portlandia.”

Armisen and Carrie Brownstein write and star in the low-budget but charmingly oddball IFC sketch show, which grabbed a remarkable six nominations, twice as many as last year’s previous high. The show was also honored for its writing, directing, art direction and picture editing, and for guest actor Steve Buscemi.

Also read: Emmy Nominees: The Complete List

TheWrap: You knocked somebody from “Modern Family” out of the supporting actor category. How’d you do that?
Fred Armisen: No I didn’t. I thought they all got in.

They usually have four nominees in the supporting actor category, but this year they only have two.
Oh, only two. [Laughs] I love those guys a lot. They’re all really brilliant.

Look, getting to do comedy at all, and getting to do a TV show, I’m already so, so grateful. And I know it sounds like something someone on a TV show would say, but it’s true. I can’t believe that I get to do comedy, and I get to do it with my friends, who I love.

I love TV, and to have anything to do with it at all is great. And then to be part of this institution of the Emmys makes it even more of an honor.

See photos: 16 Biggest Snubs and Surprises of 2014 Emmys (Photos)

I would imagine you weren’t thinking of this kind of thing when you started making web videos with Carrie.
No. In fact, I’m here in Portland right now, where we shot all that stuff. We didn’t even have a sound person – it was just us and one guy with a camera. We really didn’t know what we were doing, but I loved working with Carrie so much that I remember thinking, Oh I just want to work with her forever. Can we keep doing it?

Your production must have gotten a little bigger than a couple of actors and a camera.
Yes and no. It’s really not that tremendous a production. It’s still not a big-budget show, and we try to keep the crew to a minimum. We do travel light. Even though there have been some changes, we keep it basic.

Where are you in the planning stages for Season 5?
We’re just about to wrap the writing portion of it, and about to start pre-production. We take everything little by little.

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Do you ever find yourself running short of ideas?
Strangely, ideas sort of keep making themselves known. It’s usually when I’m not thinking about it too hard that something will occur to us.

I’m just sorry the voters couldn’t find room for Carrie with an acting nomination as well.
We’re together. This is for both of us. She’s part of everything I do.