June 28--Fred Armisen, who Portlanders will be seeing around town this summer as work begins on the writing and filming of "Portlandia" Season 4, didn't make an official announcement that he was leaving the cast of "Saturday Night Live" at the end of its past season.
Castmate Bill Hader, by contrast, did say the season finale in May would be his last as a regular. And reports had circulated that Armisen was also departing, after 11 years. But even without a statement spelling it out, when Armisen -- in character as British-accented rocker Ian Rubbish -- performed a sweet tune with the lyrics, "It's been all right, I've had a lovely night with you," it sure looked like Armisen was wrapping up his time as an "SNL" regular.
Adding to the sense of farewell was when Armisen -- who was playing with Hader, Jason Sudeikis and Taran Killam (as "The Bizzaros," Rubbish's band) -- was joined by his "Portlandia" collaborator, Carrie Brownstein, as well as musicians who have made cameo appearances on the IFC series, including Aimee Mann, J Mascis, and Steve Jones.
Now, just to clear up any confusion, Armisen tells the comedy Web site Splitsider that yes, he's moved on from "SNL." From the interview, as Armisen says:
I think it's clear. I didn't do any kind of official announcement, but I really felt like it was obvious. An ending that was a love letter to all the music I grew up with, and also to my friends and to SNL and to Lorne and to the cast. There was a lot of emotion attached to it, but it was a very positive emotion.
As to how he decided that now was the time to go, Armisen said, he felt like he was happy, and "this was a good time to do it." And he adds a certain Portland-filmed series was a factor, too. And there's a connection, in that Lorne Michaels, the boss of "Saturday Night Live," is also executive producer of "Portlandia." From the interview:
And then the other thing that really was eclipsing it was Portlandia. Portlandia started to pull me away more and more, schedule-wise, and I just felt like it'd be nice to focus on it a little more and go into the fall a bit more with shooting. So it was because of that. And also it was just a feeling.
The interview's well worth a read. Of particular interest is Armisen mentioning that the "Portlandia" creators are big fans of "Louie," and of "Game of Thrones." The writers kept talking, he says, about why, with "Game of Thrones," "you have to come back to the next episode? We're like, if there's something that kind of hooks people, we can weave a couple things together so that you want to see what happens next," an approach that informed the more character-driven, season-long narrative arcs in "Portlandia" Season 3.
-- Kristi Turnquist
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