Fred Armisen

Fred Armisen

Armisen at the 2014 Imagen Awards
Birth name Fereydun Robert Armisen[1]
Born (1966-12-04) December 4, 1966
Hattiesburg, Mississippi, U.S.
Medium Stand-up, music, television, film
Nationality American
Years active 1998–present
Genres Character comedy, sketch comedy
Spouse Sally Timms
(m. 1998–2004)

Elisabeth Moss
(m. 2009; div. 2011)
Notable works and roles Saturday Night Live
Late Night with Seth Meyers

Fereydun Robert "Fred" Armisen[1] (born December 4, 1966)[2] is an American actor, voice artist, screenwriter, producer, director, singer, musician, and comedian. Widely 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]

Early life

Armisen was born on December 4, 1966, in Hattiesburg, Mississippi but moved to New York as a baby. [7] He was raised in Valley Stream, Long Island, New York,[7] where he was a high school classmate of fellow SNL alumnus Jim Breuer.[8] His mother, Hildegardt Mirabal, a schoolteacher, is from Venezuela.[9] His father, Fereydun (later "Fred") Armisen, who worked for IBM, was born in Germany, to a Japanese father and a German mother.[1][10][11][12][13][14] Armisen attended the School of Visual Arts (NYC)[15] 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.[16]



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,[17] 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.,[18] as well as tracks for Matthew Sweet's 2011 album Modern Art[19] and Wandering Lucy's 2015 album Leap Year.[19]

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

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."[20]

Armisen's subsequent television work, such as some "memorable Andy Kaufman-esque appearances"[21] 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.[21] 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"[22] 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.[23]

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.[24][25]

Saturday Night Live

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,[3] Armisen was the third-longest tenured cast member (behind Darrell Hammond and Seth Meyers), having been a member since Season 28.[26] 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.[27] Armisen hosted the season 41 finale on May 21, 2016, with musical guest Courtney Barnett.

Recurring characters

Celebrity impressions

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, Joey Lawrence, Harrison Ford, Liberace, David Gregory, Mick Jagger, 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

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.[30] 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.[31] 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".[32] In 2010, Armisen briefly joined Joanna Newsom's tour for her album Have One on Me as his character Jens Hannemann.[33] 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.[34]

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.[35]

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.

Personal life

Armisen was married to English singer and songwriter Sally Timms from 1998 to 2004[36] and to actress Elisabeth Moss from 2009[37] to 2011.[38] He has been in a relationship with actress Natasha Lyonne since 2014.

Armisen currently resides in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles.[39] Prior to his move he was a resident of Portland, Oregon's Pearl District.[40] Armisen enjoys the work of outlaw artist Joe Coleman. He stated on Real Time with Bill Maher that he is an atheist.[41]




Crisis of Conformity

Ian Rubbish and The Bizzaros



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[42] 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
2008 Blue Man Group: How to Be a Megastar 2.0 Rod Popeil TV 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 Elf: Buddy's Musical Christmas Chadwick (voice) Holiday Television Special
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 Lego Ninjago Movie Cole (voice) Filming
2017 The Little Hours Post-production


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"
2008–12 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–present Portlandia Various 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) 27 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, 2014 Brooklyn Nine-Nine Mlepnos 2 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?"
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–present Documentary Now! Various Co-Creator, Writer, Executive Producer
2016 New Girl Brandon Episode: "No Girl"
2016 Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Robert Durst 3 episodes
2016 Saturday Night Live Host Episode: "Fred Armisen/Courtney Barnett"
2017 Big Mouth

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


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  2. "Fred Armisen profile". Retrieved March 10, 2014.
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  4. "Fred Armisen: Biography". TV Guide. Retrieved July 4, 2013.
  7. 1 2 3 Itzkoff, Dave (September 30, 2005). "Eccentric on 'S.N.L.' Is 'Jus' Keeeeding!'". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-03.
  8. Busis, Hillary (2014-02-11). "Fred Armisen's music career: A pre-'Late Night' primer -- VIDEO". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2016-05-10.
  10. "Fred Armisen Interview – Fred Armisen Portlandia Interview". Esquire. December 19, 2011. Retrieved 2014-02-11.
  11. Lucila Cejas Epple. "Why Fred Armisen Is So 'Fantรกstico' " Arts & Life". OPB. Retrieved 2014-02-11.
  12. Muther, Christopher. "'SNL' star Armisen drums up a career in comedy", Boston Globe, January 30, 2004 (fee required for full article)
  13. Karni, Annie (December 2, 2010). "Painting the Town Fred | New York Post". Retrieved 2012-05-30.
  14. AP Photo (January 5, 2012). "Photo from AP Photo – Fred Armisen, Hildegardt Gemer News, photos, topics, and quotes". Retrieved 2012-05-30.
  15. "Fred Armisen: Biography," TV Guide, accessdate=2009-11-10.
  16. Heisler, Steve. "Devo Made Saturday Night Live’s Fred Armisen Want to Be on TV", New York Magazine, February 11, 2011
  17. DeRogatis, Jim (February 5, 2003). "All Ke-e-e-ding Aside". Retrieved January 21, 2012.
  18. Jason Lymangrover (September 18, 2007). "Let's Stay Friends – Les Savy Fav | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-02-11.
  19. 1 2
  20. 1 2 Armisen interview, The A.V. Club, January 2006.
  21. 1 2 Lavery, Lisa. Interview: "Whaddya mean you've never heard of....Fred Armisen?" at the Wayback Machine (archived September 27, 2007) Cult Cargo, November 16, 2006.
  22. Duncan, Alasdair (August 3, 2012). "Fred Armisen on Portlandia, video games and cross-dressing". Crikey. Retrieved April 7, 2013.
  23. Portlandia at, 2010.
  24. "Fred Armisen". Voice Chasers. Retrieved January 21, 2012.
  25. "Critic's corner". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on March 24, 2012.
  26. "Fred Armisen and Bill Hader Say Goodbye to 'Saturday Night Live' – Connor Simpson". The Atlantic Wire. May 19, 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-01.
  27. "The Definitive 'Saturday Night Live' Sketch Rankings – Dave Johnson". TIME. February 12, 2015. Retrieved 2015-02-12.
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  29. "Doppelgängers". This American Life. Retrieved 2013-06-01.
  30. Smooching Deadlines, The Austin Chronicle, November 5, 1998.
  31. Archived March 6, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  32. Jens Hannemann "COMPLICATED DRUMMING TECHNIQUE" on Drag City Educational Music DVD
  33. "Fred Armisen Joins Joanna Newsom in Concert". Stereogum. March 25, 2010. Retrieved January 21, 2012.
  34. "Man Man: "Rabbit Habits (with Fred Armisen, Brett Gurewitz, others)"". April 8, 2009. Retrieved January 21, 2012.
  35. Murphy, Samantha (November 18, 2011). "Fred Armisen Joins 'Late Night with Seth Meyers' as Bandleader". Retrieved 2014-02-11.
  36. Borrelli, Christopher. "Fred Armisen: The Chicago Years", The Chicago Tribune, January 11, 2012. Accessed February 5, 2012.
  37. "Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss Marries SNL's Fred Armisen", People, 2009-10-26. Retrieved 2010-08-13.
  38. "Elisabeth Moss, Fred Armisen divorce official" May 19, 2011, MSNBC
  39. "Sorry, Portland: Fred Armisen Opts for Hip LA Neighborhood -- AOL Real Estate". Retrieved 2015-09-29.
  41. "Real Time with Bill Maher". Episode 242. HBO. March 23, 2012. Retrieved March 27, 2012.
  42. Fred Armisen's Guide to Dance and Self-Defense, YouTube, includes interview with Butch Vig at 14:36
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