Fred Armisen of “Saturday Night Live” and "Portlandia" fame made an unscheduled appearance at Internet Week New York Wednesday morning. He and veteran NYC comedian Seth Herzog delivered a “keynote” address on nothing in particular: The conversation between the funnymen (who are old friends) covered everything from SNL to zoo animals to brunch, with a little bit of Internet thrown in to the mix.
One attendee tried to take the Q&A portion hostage, first challenging Armisen to explain why he writes skits about brunch if he doesn’t like brunch (!?) before she got to her main point, which was to ask Armisen how old he is. Armisen was exceedingly gracious throughout: He happily answered her question (46, if anyone cares) but did gently point out that this information is easily found on the Internet. Eventually a conference moderator forcibly took the mic away from the woman. (Armisen was later seen chatting with her.)
Here are some of the highlights of the interview -- scroll down for a video clip.
Armisen on Polar Bears:
“I think we don’t trust them enough, and that’s a shame.” He suggested we release them from their cages and let them roam free in New York, and “see what happens… If they do something bad, send them to jail.
“I think we’ve got to give them a chance.”
On Yahoo Buying Tumblr:
“I put in a bid on Tumblr. Eight mil.” Later, he defined “bid” for the audience and said he was going to try again. “You can do that, right?”
On 'Leaving' SNL:
“I feel like everyone on SNL comes back. No one ever leaves.”
Later, in response to an attendee who said his 7-year-old daughter was having a hard time with Armisen leaving the show: “In a way I will always kind of be on. We all stay there… I love every minute there.”
“Alcohol doesn’t belong in the morning.”
On Punk Rock:
“Punk is a huge part of my life. I don’t know if that is healthy or not… Punk is kind of optimistic and colorful.”
On How the Internet has Changed Television:
“Pre-Internet you would have to do a [regular] character a number of times; now a character takes on a life after one viewing.”
“The Internet helped [Portlandia]. It’s when it goes on Netflix that people stop me on the street.”
Armisen’s Advice to Future SNL cast members?
“Don’t be precious about yourself and what you do. Edit yourself… If something doesn’t go to air, it's fine. It’s for your own good.
“There are things that are worth fighting for, but otherwise, leave it.”
Afterwards, I chatted with Herzog (otherwise known as The Zog, and host of Sweet, the longest-running weekly stand-up variety show in NYC), who explained that he was initially meant to share the stage with Justin Long, but the actor’s shooting schedule took him out of New York. Armisen gamely filled in at the last minute. We talked about World War I and Evites and decade names. Then he went to get a lobster roll.