In this week's paper, I talk to Carrie Brownstein , star of Portlandia and the leader of Wild Flag, about her awesome 2012. But a


Indie darling Carrie Brownstein talks Portlandia, Wild Flag and more

In this week's paper, I talk to Carrie Brownstein, star of Portlandia and the leader of Wild Flag, about her awesome 2012. But a couple of questions didn't make the print piece, namely a few involving the differences between her two primary gigs and how Portlandia episodes are written. As usual, she was thoughtful and articulate, particularly about her role within each endeavor and the similarities between playing a character on TV and playing one on stage with her band. Here's a look.

Wild Flag is such a no-frills band. How does that jive with the experience of doing Portlandia, which obviously has lots of costume changes and makeup and where presumably you are a bit more taken care of on set? It's actually not as incongruous as it might seem. I am aware of the way I am different in my day to day life than I am on stage and even though my bands operate from a place of earnestness and sincerity, there is a persona or an artifice that one toys with on stage. It is about being generous and earnest and bold but at the same time it's definitely a heightened version of myself. There are places you can go to that you just can't in real life. In some ways, Portandia is that exploration as well. Before I did music I was interested in drama and went to acting camps and did a lot of theater so that also doesn't seem very strange to me. I really like stepping into roles as a way of figuring out who I am or how people work. It kind of helps me grow a little bit in the same way that performing on stage helped me be less shy and more confident. Through the practice of risk taking and the practice of putting yourself on a ledge every night, you eventually realize that you push yourself further in your regular life as well. I think the show serves the same function. It's sort of a sanctioned place to explore. I don't actually see them as that different but my role as an actor on Portlandia is only one role that I have on that show. I'm the co-producer and a writer, so Fred and I are on set constantly and not in a trailer waiting for someone to come get us so it doesn't really feel like I'm in a rarefied place on Portlandia. Definitely people bring me more water on the set of Portlandia. I can get a bottle of water and a straw on the set, where I think if asked one of my bandmates for that they might just hurl a bottle at me from across the room.

Is there a template for how Portlandia episodes get written or how ideas get generated for it? At this point, there is a slight template and those help. The more infrastructure you can have within a script or an idea helps, especially with the improvisation. We formally get together in late spring and pitch ideas to each other and some ideas die right at the pitch but we also tend to put any idea up on an index card and we start compiling these cards. We keep revisiting these index cards to figure out what really works as a sketch. We've become more and more conscious with the subsequent seasons of not being a conceptual show but a show that hopefully has characters that seem like real people, characters that are multi-faceted and multi-dimensional.

You can read the rest of the Carrie Brownstein Q&A here.

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