Fred Armisen

Fred Armisen

Born: December 4, 1966
Age: 56
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Fereydun Robert "Fred" Armisen[1] (born December 4, 1966)[2] is an American actor, comedian, writer, producer, and musician. He is best known as a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 2002 until 2013.[3] Armisen has portrayed characters in comedy films, including EuroTrip, Anchorman, and Cop Out. With his comedy partner Carrie Brownstein, Armisen is the co-creator and co-star of the IFC sketch comedy series Portlandia. Armisen founded, a website that features the comedy sketches created with Brownstein, and is the bandleader for the Late Night with Seth Meyers house band, The 8G Band.

For his work on Portlandia, Armisen was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series in 2012, 2013 and 2014[4] and for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series in 2014. He has also won two Peabody Awards, one in 2008 as part of the Saturday Night Live political satire cast[5] and one in 2011 for Portlandia.[6]

Armisen was born on December 4, 1966, in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He moved with his family to New York as a baby[7] and briefly lived in Brazil in his youth. He was raised in Valley Stream, New York,[7] where he was a high school classmate of fellow SNL alumnus Jim Breuer.[8]

His mother, schoolteacher Hildegardt (Mirabal Level), is Venezuelan, with family from San Rafael de Atamaica, Apure.[9][10] His father, Fereydun Herbert "Fred" Armisen, who worked for IBM, was born in Soltau, Lower Saxony, Germany, to a German mother and a Korean-born father, Pak Yeong-In.[10][11][12] For much of his life, Fred had incorrectly thought his paternal grandfather to have been Japanese; his grandfather was actually born in Ulsan, Korea, and had adopted a Japanese name and persona after the Massacre of Koreans in 1923 when he was a high school student.[13][14] Pak was a prominent dancer and choreographer known as Masami Ehara (Japanese: 江原正美, Hepburn: Ehara Masami), pen name Masami Kuni (Japanese: 邦正美, Hepburn: Kuni Masami, or marked as Hangul: 방정미; RR: Bang Jeongmi; MR: Pang Chŏngmi), or birth name Bak Yeong-in (Hangul: 박영인; Hanja: 朴永仁; RR: Bak Yeongin; MR: Pak Yŏngin).[10] Masami studied esthetics in Tokyo Imperial University and became a professional dancer before moving to Germany.[15] He worked for Joseph Goebbels' Propaganda Ministry in Nazi Germany.[16][17] Pak Yeong-In's family were members of the Korean aristocracy, who could verifiably trace their lineage back to the 1600s.[10]

Armisen attended the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan[18] before dropping out to begin a career as a rock drummer.[7] He has mentioned watching the bands The Clash and Devo perform on television and wanting to be a performer since he was a child.[19]




In 1984, Armisen played drums in a local band along with his high school friends in Valley Stream, New York, but the group soon ended. In 1988, he moved to Chicago to play drums for the punk rock band Trenchmouth,[20] and in the 1990s, he played background drums with Blue Man Group.

Armisen played drums on three tracks for Les Savy Fav's 2007 album Let's Stay Friends,[21] as well as tracks for Matthew Sweet's 2011 album Modern Art[22] and Wandering Lucy's 2015 album Leap Year.[22]

Armisen is the bandleader of the 8G Band, the house band for Late Night with Seth Meyers, as of February 24, 2014.[23]

Television and film

While not playing with the band Trenchmouth, Armisen's interests switched to acting. In a January 2006 interview, he said, "I wanted to be on TV somehow. For some reason, I always thought it would be an indirect route; I didn't know that it would be comedy and Saturday Night Live. I just wanted to do something with performing that would lead me there."[24]

Armisen's subsequent television work, such as some "memorable Andy Kaufman-esque appearances"[25] on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, as well as work for Crank Yankers and Adult Swim, led to a role in 2002 as a featured player in the cast of Saturday Night Live.[25] In the 2004 season, he was promoted to repertory cast member status.

Fred participated in Sister City,[26] the fifth episode of the second season of "Parks and Recreation", broadcast on NBC in the United States in 2009.

Armisen has landed several minor yet memorable roles that were defined by an interviewer as "feral foreigners"[27] in comedy films such as Eurotrip, Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Deck the Halls, The Ex, The Promotion, The Rocker, Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny and Confessions of a Shopaholic.

Armisen stars in the IFC sketch series Portlandia alongside Carrie Brownstein (of Sleater-Kinney); the first season debuted on January 21, 2011.[28] He and fellow Saturday Night Live alums Bill Hader and Seth Meyers write, produce, and star in the IFC mockumentary series Documentary Now![29]

In the Cartoon Network series The Looney Tunes Show, Armisen voices Speedy Gonzales. Armisen, along with Carrie Brownstein, appeared on the Simpsons episode "The Day the Earth Stood Cool", in which they play The Simpsons' new neighbors, who encourage everyone to be cool like them.[30][31]

Armisen's recent work as bandleader on Late Night with Seth Meyers has won him praise for his deadpan comedy, especially in his interplay with the host.[32]

Saturday Night Live

Armisen joined the cast of Saturday Night Live in 2002, and is the second Latino cast member.[33] He was promoted to a repertory player in 2004. After 11 years as a cast member, he decided to leave the show. At the time of his 2013 departure from the show,[3] Armisen was tied with Al Franken (who was also in the cast for 11 seasons) as the third-longest tenured cast member (behind Seth Meyers and Darrell Hammond).[34] Armisen hosted the season 41 finale on May 21, 2016, with musical guest Courtney Barnett.

The following is a partial list of notable roles Armisen has played in Saturday Night Live sketches.

Recurring characters

  • Billy Smith - a Native American stand-up comedian who tells Native-American-themed jokes that no one understands.
  • Fericito - a Venezuelan nightclub comedian who has his own TV show, Show Biz Grande Explosion with sidekick Manuel (Horatio Sanz).
  • Gunther Kelly - A student at George Washington University who performs songs on Weekend Update with his brother Patrick (played by Will Forte).
  • Leonard - the strange European host of the foreign music show Club Traxx.
  • Mackey - a senile drummer who often does rimshots at inappropriate moments and appears in the "Rialto Grande" sketches.
  • Nooni Schoener - a quirky, foreign art dealer who appears with his wife Nuni Schoener (played by Maya Rudolph) in "the Schoeners" sketches)
  • Frondi - a mentally challenged character who criticizes Ben Affleck's movie Gigli to Ben himself.
  • Manuel Ortiz - host of The Manuel Ortiz show on Television Dominicana where he "helps with whatever it is" his audience members are going through.
  • Nicholas Fehn - a political commentator whose mind wanders so much that he is incapable of finishing a sentence without starting a new one.
  • Roger A. Trevanti - a greedy studio head and AMPTP member who rails against the 2007-2008 Writers Guild of America strike. The character's only SNL appearance was on the last episode of season 33, before the show went on hiatus for the WGA strike, but he appeared in several Internet videos around the same time.
  • Roger Brush - a producer of multiple "Dr. Phil"-type talk shows, each focused on a different topic (teen, marital, sexual, and pregnancy issues), who fills in when the hosts are sick. He repeatedly tells guests relating their problems to speak up, and, unable to relate to their problems, offers them either useless advice based on his experience or no help at all.
  • Garth - part of Garth & Kat (with Kristen Wiig), a musical duo who appear on Weekend Update unprepared and make up songs on the spot.
  • Giuseppe - the saxophone player for What's Up With That?
  • Stewart - homeowner from The Californians, a soap opera parody featuring Armisen, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig and others as wealthy blondes with Valley Girl accents.
  • One of the "Dictator's Two Best Friends from Growing Up" (with Vanessa Bayer) who come to Weekend Update to secretly trash-talk the various dictators (such as Muammar al-Gaddafi and Kim Jong-un) with whom they grew up.
  • Regine - a pretentious and condescending woman who exhibits blatant euphoric and erotic facial expressions when touched on certain parts of her body.
  • Ian Rubbish - A late-1970s/early-80s British punk rocker, a parody of Sex Pistols' John Lydon, who caught heat from his bandmates Derek Gash (played by Bill Hader) and Keith Grimshaw (played by Taran Killam) and fans for writing and performing songs supporting conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

Celebrity impressions

Armisen's list of notable impressions has included:

  • Barack Obama - recurring in Season 33 and Season 34 episodes as the Democratic presidential candidate (Season 33), the Democratic nominee, President-Elect, and President (Season 34), beginning on February 23, 2008. As of season 38, Jay Pharoah replaced Armisen as Obama.
  • Prince - parody of the musician as the host of a talk show called The Prince Show, with Beyoncé Knowles (played by Maya Rudolph) as his co-host. Armisen, a fan of Prince since childhood, created the sketch as a way of improving his chances of meeting the musician.[24]
  • Steve Jobs - Apple CEO who appears on Weekend Update to show off strange new technology. Armisen has stated that Steve Jobs is the celebrity he most enjoys portraying.[35]
  • Ira Glass - After seeing an unused SNL sketch, Glass invited Armisen to co-host a This American Life about doppelgängers.[36]
  • David Paterson - Governor of New York. Armisen's Paterson impression, much like his Obama impression, caught controversy as well, though in this case, it was David Paterson himself who spoke out against the impression, as he felt it was insensitive to the blind and visually-impaired.

Armisen has also done impressions of political figures such as Hugo Chávez, Vicente Fox, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Barney Frank, George H. W. Bush, Queen Elizabeth II, Ben Bernanke, Muammar al-Gaddafi, Mike Gravel, Saddam Hussein, Hosni Mubarak and Michael Bloomberg. He has also impersonated celebrities such as Martin Scorsese, Desi Arnaz, Corbin Bleu, Sam Waterston, Joy Behar, Tony Danza, George Carlin, Dov Charney, Howie Mandel, Alan Osmond, Ben Gibbard, Joey Lawrence, Harrison Ford, Liberace, David Gregory, Mick Jagger, Larry King, Penny Marshall, Kevin McHale (as Artie Abrams from Glee), Randy Newman, David Lee Roth, Gene Simmons, Ringo Starr, Lawrence Welk, Paul Lynde, Elvis Presley, George Lopez, Randy Newman, Thom Yorke, John Oates, Ice-T, and Michael Wolff.

Other work

In 1998 he posed as a music journalist for the short film Fred Armisen's Guide to Music and South by Southwest. It was filmed by then-girlfriend Sally Timms and featured Armisen's "pranking musicians and industry types" during the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas.[37] A year later, Armisen starred with alternative rock legend Steve Albini in Chevelle's Point #1 EPK.

Armisen is part of ThunderAnt, a comedy duo with Sleater-Kinney guitarist Carrie Brownstein. The duo specializes in creating comedic short skits often about independent vocations such as one man shows, feminist bookstores, and bicycle rights activists.

Armisen has directed music videos for bands like The Helio Sequence. Armisen also had a role in the Wilco documentary I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, which featured footage from his stint opening for front man Jeff Tweedy's 2001 solo tour. He also appeared in video segments on Blue Man Group's How to be a Megastar Tour 2.0. Armisen occasionally writes for Pitchfork Media and interviewed Cat Power for that company.[38] Fred appeared as Jens Hannemann on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on October 19, 2007, promoting a 28-minute DVD called Fred Armisen presents Jens Hannemann: "COMPLICATED DRUMMING TECHNIQUE".[39] In 2010, Armisen briefly joined Joanna Newsom's tour for her album Have One on Me as his character Jens Hannemann.[40] On SNL, Armisen often plays musical instruments in sketches, has two recurring characters who are musicians (Mackey the drummer from the Rialto Grande and Ferecito from Showbiz Grande Explosion), or impersonates famous figures in the music world such as Liberace, Phil Spector, Lou Reed, and Prince.

Armisen appeared in the official music video for Man Man's song "Rabbit Habits", playing a man who charms his blind date (Charlyne Yi) but runs away after she turns into a werewolf.[41]

Along with Bill Hader and Jason Sudeikis, Armisen voiced radio characters in the video game Grand Theft Auto IV.

Armisen performed as a singer/drummer/comedic actor in the Blue Man Group's "How to be a Megastar Live!". He played the part as a salesman on TV who advertises for the Megastar Rock Manual. He also drummed in the performance and was a backup singer.

In late 2014, Armisen was featured on the popular comedy web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee with host Jerry Seinfeld.

Armisen is a longtime fan of punk rock music and can be seen in the documentaries Salad Days and The Damned: Don't You Wish That We Were Dead.

In 2015, Armisen was the recipient of Smithsonian Magazine's American Ingenuity Award for Performing Arts.[42]

Personal life

Armisen was married to English singer and songwriter Sally Timms from 1998 to 2004[43] and to actress Elisabeth Moss from 2009[44] to 2011.[45] He has been in a relationship with actress Natasha Lyonne since 2014.

Armisen, as of March 2018, resides in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles.[46] Prior to his move he was a resident of Portland, Oregon's Pearl District.[47] He has stated that he is an atheist.[48]


As a member of Trenchmouth:

  • Snakebite (1989)
  • Kick Your Mind And Make It Move (1991)
  • Construction of New Action (1991)
  • Trenchmouth / Circus Lupus (1992)
  • Inside the Future (1993)
  • The Position of the Right Hand: Trenchmouth / Bliss (1993)
  • Achtung Chicago! Zwei compilation (1993)
  • Trenchmouth vs. The Light of the Sun (1994)
  • The Broadcasting System (1995)
  • Volumes, Amplifiers, Equalizers (1995)
  • More Motion: A Collection (2003)



Year Title Role Notes
1998 Guide to Music and South by Southwest Various Short film
1998 Fred Armisen's Guide to Dance and Self-Defense[49] Various Short film
2002 I Am Trying to Break Your Heart: A Film About Wilco Himself
2002 Like Mike New Age Dad
2003 Frank International Film Festival Frank Short film
2003 Melvin Goes to Dinner Vesa
2004 Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy Tino
2004 Eurotrip Creepy Italian Guy
2004 Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie Tino
2005 Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo Frenchman Uncredited
2006 Deck the Halls Gustave
2006 The Ex Manny
2006 Griffin & Phoenix Unknown
2006 Kiss Me Again Professor Szabo
2006 Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny Security Guard
2007 Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters Time Lincoln (voice)
2008 Baby Mama Stroller Salesman
2008 Christmas on Mars Noachis
2008 The Promotion Scott Fargas
2008 The Rocker Wayne Kerr
2008 Bang Blow & Stroke Kerr Short film
2009 Confessions of a Shopaholic Ryan Koening
2009 Post Grad Guacanator Pitchman
2010 Cop Out Russian Lawyer
2010 Our Family Wedding Phillip Gusto
2010 Easy A Pastor
2010 Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore Freidrich
2010 Presidential Reunion Barack Obama Short film
2011 The Smurfs Brainy Smurf (voice)
2011 The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol Brainy Smurf (voice) Short film
2012 The Dictator Death to Aladeen Restaurant waiter Cameo
2012 Fun World Fred (voice) Short film
2013 The Smurfs 2 Brainy Smurf (voice)
2013 The Smurfs: The Legend of Smurfy Hollow Brainy Smurf (voice) Short film
2014 Salad Days Himself Documentary
2015 Addicted to Fresno Gerald
2015 Staten Island Summer Victor
2015 Looney Tunes: Rabbits Run Speedy Gonzales (voice) Direct-to-video
2015 The Damned: Don't You Wish That We Were Dead Himself Documentary
2016 Zoolander 2 The VIP
2016 Ordinary World Gary
2017 The Little Hours Bishop Bartolomeo
2017 Take the 10 Driver
2017 Band Aid Dave
2017 The House of Tomorrow Tour Video Narrator (voice)
2017 Battle of the Sexes Rheo Blair
2017 The Lego Ninjago Movie Cole (voice)
2018 Game Over, Man! Himself


Year Title Role Notes
1997-2001 Reverb Interviewer 82 episodes
1999 Fred Himself, Various TV Pilot
2001 Late Friday Father Fred, Fericito 2 episodes
2001 Premium Blend Sergeant Fred 2 episodes
2002 Next! Various TV Pilot
2002 Late World with Zach Interpretive Bongos Wizard, Various 29 episodes
2002-13 Saturday Night Live Himself, Various 220 episodes
2003-07 Crank Yankers Chip Douglas (voice) 13 episodes
2004 Comedy Lab Jeremy Episode: "12.21"
2004, 2008 Aqua Teen Hunger Force Poncho, Robot Husband (voice) 2 episodes
2005 New York Noise Himself Episode: "Beggars Group 10th Anniversary in NYC Party"
2005-08 Squidbillies Miguel, Jesus, Hippie Killed with Chainsaw (voice) 4 episodes
2006 Freak Show Various voices 3 episodes
2006 Night of Too Many Stars: An Overbooked Event for Autism Education Himself, Prince TV special
2006 Tom Goes to the Mayor Phillip Priest (voice) Episode: "Jeffy the Sea Serpent"
2007, 2012 30 Rock Raheem Haddad, Frank 2.0/Phone Lady 2 episodes
2007 Tim and Eric Nite Live! Dr. Pat Gordon Hall Episode: "1.3"
2007, 2008 Human Giant Himself, Dr. Marker, Doctor 3 episodes
2007, 2010 Yo Gabba Gabba! Himself, Larry the Treasure Hunter 2 episodes
2008 The Sarah Silverman Program Taylor Magenheim Episode: "Patriot Tact"
2008 Blue Man Group: How to Be a Megastar 2.0 Rod Popeil TV film
2008-12 Saturday Night Live Weekend Update Thursday Various 8 episodes
2008, 2010 Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! K.J. Nutt, Tennis Buddy, Sal & Al's Customer 2 episodes
2009 Parks and Recreation Raul Episode: "Sister City"
2010 Ugly Americans Larry King (voice) Episode: "So You Want to Be a Vampire?"
2011-18 Portlandia Various Also co-creator, writer, co-executive producer
Peabody Award (2012)
Writers Guild of America Award for Comedy/Variety (including talk) series (2013)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series (2012-14)
Nominated—Writers Guild of America Award for Comedy/Variety (including talk) series (2014)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (2014)
2011-13 The Looney Tunes Show Speedy Gonzales (voice) 30 episodes
2011 The Soup Himself, CARL Episode: "Fred Armisen"
2012 Up All Night Gideon Kirk Episode: "Hey Jealousy"
2012, 2013 Late Night with Jimmy Fallon Lady Hedith 5 episodes
2012 The Simpsons Terrence (voice) Episode: "The Day the Earth Stood Cool"
2012 Unsupervised Martin (voice) 6 episodes
2013 Bob's Burgers Tommy (voice) Episode: "Nude Beach"
2013 Conan Conan O'Brien Episode: "Occupy Conan: When Outsourcing Goes Too Far"
2013 Kroll Show Papi Jr Episode: "Dine & Dash"
2013 Jimmy Kimmel Live! Osama Bin Laden Episode: "10.338"
2013 Out There Terry Rosachristas (voice) 10 episodes
2013 The Awesomes Stage Manager (voice) Episode: "Pilot, Part 2"
2013-18 Brooklyn Nine-Nine Mlep(clay)nos 4 episodes
2014 Super Fun Night Brian Headfoot Episode: "Hostile Makeover"
2014 Broad City Craigslist baby Episode: "What a Wonderful World"
2014-present Late Night with Seth Meyers Himself House band leader
2014 House of Lies Vincent Episode: "Comeuppance"
2014 Chozen Various voices Episode: "In a Pickle"
2014 Modern Family Langham Episode: "Las Vegas"
2014 Comedy Bang! Bang! Himself Episode: "Fred Armisen Wears Black Jeans & Glasses"
2014 Archer Gustavo Calderon (voice) 5 episodes
2014 Mike Tyson Mysteries Leprechaun (voice) Episode: "Is Magic Real?"
2014 Elf: Buddy's Musical Christmas Chadwick (voice) TV special
2015 30th Independent Spirit Awards Himself (host) TV special
2015 Man Seeking Woman Tanaka Episode: "Sizzurp"
2015 7 Days in Hell Edward Pudding Television film
2015 The Jim Gaffigan Show Dr. Weiss Episode: "Pilot"
2015-17 Difficult People Garry Epstein 3 episodes
2015-present Documentary Now! Various Also co-creator, writer, executive producer
2015, 2018 Robot Chicken Various roles Voice
2 episodes
2016 New Girl Brandon Episode: "No Girl"
2016-17 Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Robert Durst 4 episodes
2016 Saturday Night Live Host Episode: "Fred Armisen/Courtney Barnett"
2016 Man Seeking Woman Jesus Episode: "Honey"
2016 Blunt Talk Dr. Larry Simon Episode: "Love Is Not Linear"
2017 Michael Bolton's Big, Sexy Valentine's Day Special Peter Salanz Variety special
2017-18 Nature Cat Herbert the Hermit Crab (voice) 4 episodes
2017 Son of Zorn Lord Vulchazor (voice) Episode: "All Hail Son of Zorn"
2017 Animals. Alabaster (voice) 2 episodes
2017 Comrade Detective Orzan (voice) Episode: "Two Films for One Ticket"
2017-present Big Mouth Elliot Birch / Various voices 10 episodes
2017 Lady Dynamite Miss Cookie Wolf Episode: "Apache Justice"
2017-18 The Last Man on Earth Karl Cowperthwaite 3 episodes
2017 I Love You, America with Sarah Silverman Jesus Episode: "Episode 10"
2017 A Christmas Story Live! Mall Elf Live television program
2018-present Final Space KVN (voice) 10 episodes
2018 Splitting Up Together Dr. Rydakto Episode: "Letting Ghost"
2018 Forever Oscar Hoffman 8 episodes

Video games

Year Title Role
2008 Grand Theft Auto IV Pervert, Hotdog Vendor, Internet Nerd
2010 Red Dead Redemption Pharmacist
2013 The Smurfs 2 Brainy Smurf
2013 Grand Theft Auto V Hugh Harrison
2014 Scooby Doo and Looney Tunes: Cartoon Universe Speedy Gonzales
2018 Red Dead Redemption 2 Aldridge T Abbington

[ Source: Wikipedia ]

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