Fred Armisen

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Fred Armisen
Fred Armisen at 2014 Imagen Awards.jpg
Armisen at the 2014 Imagen Awards
Born(1966-12-04) December 4, 1966 (age 48)
Hattiesburg, Mississippi, United States
MediumStand-up, music, television, film
Years active1988–present
GenresCharacter comedy, sketch comedy
SpouseSally Timms (1998–2004)
Elisabeth Moss (2009–2011)
Notable works and rolesSaturday Night Live
Late Night with Seth Meyers
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Fred Armisen
Fred Armisen at 2014 Imagen Awards.jpg
Armisen at the 2014 Imagen Awards
Born(1966-12-04) December 4, 1966 (age 48)
Hattiesburg, Mississippi, United States
MediumStand-up, music, television, film
Years active1988–present
GenresCharacter comedy, sketch comedy
SpouseSally Timms (1998–2004)
Elisabeth Moss (2009–2011)
Notable works and rolesSaturday Night Live
Late Night with Seth Meyers

Fred Robert Armisen (born December 4, 1966)[1] is an American actor, voice actor, writer, producer, director, singer, musician, and comedian.

Widely known as a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 2002 until 2013,[2] 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[3] and for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series in 2014.

Early life[edit]

Armisen was born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, on December 4th, 1966 and moved to Manhattan, New York City as a baby.[4] He was raised in Valley Stream, New York, on Long Island,[4] where he was a high school classmate of fellow SNL alumnus Jim Breuer.[citation needed] His mother, Hildegardt, a schoolteacher, is from Venezuela, and his father, who worked for IBM, was born in Germany of half-Japanese descent.[5][6][7][8][9] Fred Armisen attended the School of Visual Arts (NYC)[10] before dropping out to begin a career as a rock drummer.[4] He has mentioned watching the bands The Clash and Devo perform on television, and wanting to be a performer since he was a child.[11]



In 1984, Armisen played drums in a local band along with his high school friends in Valley Stream, New York, but the group ended soon after. Armisen began his career in 1988 when he moved from New York to Chicago to play drums for the punk rock band Trenchmouth.[12] In the 1990s, he played background drums with Blue Man Group in Chicago.

He plays drums on three tracks on Les Savy Fav's 2007 album Let's Stay Friends.[13]

He also played on the Wandering Lucy album Leap Year.

Armisen is currently the bandleader and guitarist of the 8G Band on Late Night with Seth Meyers.

Television and film[edit]

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."[14]

Armisen's subsequent television work, such as some "memorable Andy Kaufman-esque appearances"[15] on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, as well as work for Crank Yankers and Adult Swim, led in 2002 to a role as a featured player in the cast of Saturday Night Live.[15] In the 2004 season, he was promoted to a repertory cast member.

Armisen has landed several minor yet memorable roles that were defined by an interviewer as "feral foreigners"[16] 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.[17]

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.[18][19]

Saturday Night Live[edit]

The following is a partial list of notable roles Armisen has played in Saturday Night Live sketches. At the time of his 2013 departure from the show,[2] Armisen was the third-longest tenured cast member (behind Darrell Hammond and Seth Meyers), having been a member since Season 28.[20] As of February 2015, Armisen had appeared in 856 SNL sketches, putting him second only to Kenan Thompson in appearances on the show, and had the third most distinct impressions of any SNL cast member with 99.[21]

Recurring characters[edit]

Armisen and then-wife Elisabeth Moss at the 15th Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Celebrity impressions[edit]

Armisen's list of notable impressions has included:

Armisen has also done impressions of political figures such as Hugo Chávez, Vicente Fox, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Barney Frank, George H. W. Bush, 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, Harrison Ford, Liberace, David Gregory, Larry King, Penny Marshall, Kevin McHale (actor) (as Artie Abrams from Glee), David Lee Roth, Gene Simmons, Ringo Starr, Lawrence Welk, Paul Lynde, George Lopez, Randy Newman, Thom Yorke, John Oates, and Ice-T.

Other work[edit]

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.[24] A year later, Armisen starred with alternative rock legend Steve Albini in Chevelle's Point #1 EPK.

Armisen performing at Webster Hall in 2001

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.[25] 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".[26] In 2010, Armisen briefly joined Joanna Newsom's tour for her album Have One On Me as his character Jens Hannemann.[27] 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.[28]

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.

Armisen is the bandleader of the 8G Band, the house band for Late Night with Seth Meyers, as of February 24, 2014.[29]

Personal life[edit]

Armisen was married to English singer and songwriter Sally Timms from 1998 to 2004[30] and to actress Elisabeth Moss from 2009[31] to 2011.[32]

In August 2010, Armisen dated fellow Saturday Night Live cast member Abby Elliott,[33] ending their relationship in late 2011.[34]

Armisen, a resident of Portland, Oregon's Pearl District, [35] said on Real Time with Bill Maher that he is an atheist.[36]




Crisis of Conformity

Ian Rubbish and The Bizzaros



1998Guide to Music and South by SouthwestVariousShort film
1998Fred Armisen's Guide to Dance and Self-Defense[37]VariousShort film
2002I Am Trying to Break Your Heart: A Film About WilcoHimself
2002Like MikeNew Age Dad
2003Frank International Film FestivalFrankShort film
2003Melvin Goes to DinnerVesa
2004Anchorman: The Legend of Ron BurgundyTinoNominated—MTV Movie Award for Best Best Musical Sequence (2005)
2004EurotripCreepy Italian Guy
2004Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost MovieTino
2005Deuce Bigalow: European GigoloFrenchmanUncredited
2006Deck the HallsGustave
2006The ExManny
2006Griffin & PhoenixUnknown
2006Kiss Me AgainProfessor Szabo
2006Tenacious D in The Pick of DestinySecurity Guard
2007Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for TheatersTime Lincoln (voice)
2008Baby MamaStroller Salesman
2008Christmas on MarsNoachis
2008The PromotionScott Fargas
2008The RockerWayne Kerr
2008Bang Blow & StrokeKerrShort film
2008Blue Man Group: How to Be a Megastar 2.0Rod PopeilTV film
2009Confessions of a ShopaholicRyan Koening
2009Post GradGuacanator Pitchman
2010Cop OutRussian Lawyer
2010Our Family WeddingPhillip Gusto
2010Easy APastor
2010Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty GaloreFreidrich
2010Presidential ReunionBarack ObamaShort film
2011The SmurfsBrainy Smurf (voice)
2011The Smurfs: A Christmas CarolBrainy Smurf (voice)Short film
2012The DictatorDeath to Aladeen Restaurant waiterCameo
2012Fun WorldFred (voice)Short film
2013The Smurfs 2Brainy Smurf (voice)
2013The Smurfs: The Legend of Smurfy HollowBrainy Smurf (voice)Short film
2014Elf: Buddy's Musical ChristmasChadwick (voice)Holiday Television Special


1997-2001ReverbInterviewer82 episodes
1999FredHimself, VariousFailed TV Pilot
2001Late FridayFather Fred, Fericito2 episodes
2001Premium BlendSergeant Fred2 episodes
2002Next!VariousFailed TV Pilot
2002Late World with ZachInterpretive Bongos Wizard, Various29 episodes
2002-2013Saturday Night LiveHimself, Various220 episodes
2003-2007Crank YankersChip Douglas (voice)13 episodes
2004Comedy LabJeremyEpisode: "12.21"
2004-2008Aqua Teen Hunger ForcePoncho, Robot Husband (voice)2 episodes
2005New York NoiseHimselfEpisode: "Beggars Group 10th Anniversary in NYC Party"
2005-2008SquidbilliesMiguel, Jesus, Hippie Killed with Chainsaw (voice)4 episodes
2006Freak ShowVarious voices3 episodes
2006Night of Too Many Stars: An Overbooked Event for Autism EducationHimself, PrinceTV special
2006Tom Goes to the MayorPhillip Priest (voice)Episode: "Jeffy the Sea Serpent"
2007-201230 RockRaheem Haddad, Frank 2.0/Phone Lady2 episodes
2007Tim and Eric Nite Live!Dr. Pat Gordon HallEpisode: "1.3"
2007-2008Human GiantHimself, Dr. Marker, Doctor3 episodes
2007-2010Yo Gabba Gabba!Himself, Larry the Treasure Hunter2 episodes
2008The Sarah Silverman ProgramTaylor MagenheimEpisode: "Patriot Tact"
2008-2012Saturday Night Live Weekend Update ThursdayVarious8 episodes
2008–2010Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!K.J. Nutt, Tennis Buddy, Sal & Al's Customer2 episodes
2009Parks and RecreationRaulEpisode: "Sister City"
2010Ugly AmericansLarry King (voice)Episode: "So You Want to Be a Vampire?"
2011–presentPortlandiaVariousCo-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)
2011–2013The Looney Tunes ShowSpeedy Gonzales (voice)27 episodes
2011The SoupHimself, CARLEpisode: "Fred Armisen"
2012Up All NightGideon KirkEpisode: "Hey Jealousy"
2012–2013Late Night with Jimmy FallonLady Hedith5 episodes
2012The SimpsonsTerrence (voice)Episode: "The Day the Earth Stood Cool"
2012UnsupervisedMartin (voice)6 episodes
2013Bob's BurgersTommy (voice)Episode: "Nude Beach"
2013ConanConan O'BrienEpisode: "Occupy Conan: When Outsourcing Goes Too Far"
2013Kroll ShowPapi JrEpisode: "Dine & Dash"
2013Jimmy Kimmel Live!Osama Bin LadenEpisode: "10.338"
2013Out ThereTerry Rosachristas (voice)10 episodes
2013The AwesomesStage Manager (voice)Episode: "Pilot, Part 2"
2013–2014Brooklyn Nine-NineMlepnos2 episodes
2014Super Fun NightBrian HeadfootEpisode: "Hostile Makeover"
2014Broad CityCraigslist babyEpisode: "What a Wonderful World"
2014–presentLate Night with Seth MeyersHimselfHouse band leader
2014House of LiesVincentEpisode: "Comeuppance"
2014ChozenVarious voicesEpisode: "In a Pickle"
2014Modern FamilyLanghamEpisode: "Las Vegas"
2014ArcherGustavo Calderon (voice)5 episodes
2014Mike Tyson MysteriesLeprechaun (voice)Episode: "Is Magic Real?"

Video games[edit]

2008Grand Theft Auto IVPervert, Hot Dog Vendor, Internet Nerd (voice)
2010Red Dead RedemptionPedestrian, Background Character (voice)
2013The Smurfs 2Brainy Smurf (voice)
2013Grand Theft Auto VHugh Harrison (voice)


  1. ^ "Fred Armisen". Retrieved March 10, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Talking to Fred Armisen About 'SNL', 'Portlandia', And Being Part of A Comedy Collective". Splitsider. June 28, 2013. Retrieved June 29, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Fred Armisen: Biography". TV Guide. Retrieved 4 July 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c Itzkoff, Dave (September 30, 2005). "Eccentric on 'S.N.L.' Is 'Jus' Keeeeding!'". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-03. 
  5. ^ "Fred Armisen Interview - Fred Armisen Portlandia Interview". Esquire. 2011-12-19. Retrieved 2014-02-11. 
  6. ^ Lucila Cejas Epple. "Why Fred Armisen Is So 'Fantรกstico' » Arts & Life". OPB. Retrieved 2014-02-11. 
  7. ^ Muther, Christopher. "'SNL' star Armisen drums up a career in comedy", Boston Globe, January 30, 2004 (fee required for full article)
  8. ^ Karni, Annie (2010-12-02). "Painting the Town Fred | New York Post". Retrieved 2012-05-30. 
  9. ^ AP Photo (2012-01-05). "Photo from AP Photo - Fred Armisen, Hildegardt Gemer News, photos, topics, and quotes". Retrieved 2012-05-30. 
  10. ^ "Fred Armisen: Biography," TV Guide, accessdate=2009-11-10.
  11. ^ Heisler, Steve. "Devo Made Saturday Night Live’s Fred Armisen Want to Be on TV", New York Magazine, February 11, 2011
  12. ^ DeRogatis, Jim (February 5, 2003). "All Ke-e-e-ding Aside". Retrieved January 21, 2012. 
  13. ^ Jason Lymangrover (2007-09-18). "Let's Stay Friends - Les Savy Fav | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-02-11. 
  14. ^ a b Armisen interview, The A.V. Club, January 2006.
  15. ^ a b Lavery, Lisa. Interview: "Whaddya mean you've never heard of....Fred Armisen?" at the Wayback Machine (archived September 27, 2007) Cult Cargo, 16 November 2006.
  16. ^ Duncan, Alasdair (August 3, 2012). "Fred Armisen on Portlandia, video games and cross-dressing". Crikey. Retrieved April 7, 2013. 
  17. ^ Portlandia at, 2010.
  18. ^ "Fred Armisen". Voice Chasers. Retrieved January 21, 2012. 
  19. ^ "Critic's corner". The Boston Globe. [dead link]
  20. ^ "Fred Armisen and Bill Hader Say Goodbye to 'Saturday Night Live' - Connor Simpson". The Atlantic Wire. 2013-05-19. Retrieved 2013-06-01. 
  21. ^ "The Definitive 'Saturday Night Live' Sketch Rankings - Dave Johnson". TIME. 2015-02-12. Retrieved 2015-02-12. 
  22. ^ Armstrong, Josh E. "Seven Questions with Fred Armisen". Armstrong Interviews. Retrieved 2008-07-15. 
  23. ^ "Doppelgängers". This American Life. Retrieved 2013-06-01. 
  24. ^ Smooching Deadlines, The Austin Chronicle, 5 November 1998.
  25. ^ [1][dead link]
  26. ^ Jens Hannemann "COMPLICATED DRUMMING TECHNIQUE" on Drag City Educational Music DVD
  27. ^ "Fred Armisen Joins Joanna Newsom In Concert". Stereogum. March 25, 2010. Retrieved January 21, 2012. 
  28. ^ "Man Man: "Rabbit Habits (with Fred Armisen, Brett Gurewitz, others)"". April 8, 2009. Retrieved January 21, 2012. 
  29. ^ Murphy, Samantha (2011-11-18). "Fred Armisen Joins 'Late Night with Seth Meyers' as Bandleader". Retrieved 2014-02-11. 
  30. ^ Borrelli, Christopher. "Fred Armisen: The Chicago Years", The Chicago Tribune, 11 January 2012. Accessed 5 February 2012.
  31. ^ "Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss Marries SNL's Fred Armisen", People, 2009-10-26. Retrieved 2010-08-13.
  32. ^ "Elisabeth Moss, Fred Armisen divorce official" May 19, 2011, MSNBC
  33. ^ Oh, Eunice; and Charlotte Triggs (19 August 2010). "Fred Armisen and Abby Elliott's Relationship in 'Early Stages'". People.
  34. ^ Ravitz, Justin (27 September 2011). "SNL's Fred Armisen, Abby Elliott Split". US Weekly.
  35. ^
  36. ^ "Real Time with Bill Maher". Episode 242. HBO. March 23, 2012. Retrieved March 27, 2012. 
  37. ^ Fred Armisen's Guide to Dance and Self-Defense, YouTube, includes interview with Butch Vig at 14:36

External links[edit]

Media offices
Preceded by
Late Night bandleader
February 24, 2014-present
Succeeded by