Who is Fred Armisen? Well, he's definitely not President Barack Obama, but he has played him. He’s the irrepressible Fericito. He’s Garth to Kristen Wiig’s Kat. He’s Elisabeth Moss’s “terrible” ex-husband. He’s one of the nicest guys around, according to Lorne Michaels. He’s Bill Hader's best friend and frequent collaborator. But who is this guy, really?
Just about every Fred Armisen biography covers his love and talent for drumming and playing music. He played with punk band Trenchmouth and then went on to play in Blue Man Group in Chicago. He creates all sorts of musical projects, from leading the house band on Late Night with Seth Meyers to filling out the other half of the duo Blue Jean Committee with Bill Hader. He’ll even pop up with Hader, Taran Killam, and Jason Sudeikis as Ian Rubbish and the Bizarros.
Amassed here is a collection of Fred Armisen stories, videos, and behind-the-scenes goodies. Sit back and enjoy some interesting facts about Armisen that may shed some light on who the comedian really is.
Fred Armisen doesn't worry about bombing performances - even if only one person laughs, he considers it a success. “Who cares about bombing?,” he says. “I got into comedy from bombing. I had a manager who gave me notes - ‘You have no jokes, you’re just doing all these characters’ - and even back then, I remember thinking, That’s fantastic. I bombed my way into SNL."
Fred Armisen can drum. And that helped him land a gig with Blue Man Group in Chicago. He says it was the first time he ever received a paycheck for drumming or worked in a clean venue. In the video above, Armisen walks viewers through the audition for Blue Man Group (keep an eye out for the Tobias Funke reference!).
Fred Armisen became a fan of the Swedish indie-pop artist El Perro del Mar after he saw her video for “God Knows (You Gotta Give to Get).” The artist asked him to direct the music video of the Red Hot Chili Peppers's “Breaking the Girl.” Armisen says he was inspired by valets, their uniforms, and the idea of putting them in a place where you would never actually see valets (such as a remote village in Sweden). Armisen also directed Neil Michael Hagerty and the Howling Hex’s “Mountain" and he says he would really like to direct a music video for Yoko Ono.
Armisen was disillusioned with the music industry and decided to spoof it at South by Southwest with a piece called "Fred Armisen's Guide to Music and South by Southwest." He interviewed celebrities and convention goers in a variety of characters with accents and affectations. HBO saw the tape and booked him to do interstitials.