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‘Portlandia’ stars touring to promote 2nd season

After teasing fans with a handful of hilarious clips over the past few weeks, the second season of “Portlandia” kicks off in earnest on the IFC channel Jan. 6. But first Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen, the creators and co-stars of the hit sketch-comedy series, are going on tour. Hitting just six cities (including a sold-out stop at the Mezzanine on Friday), the live show will feature musical performances, sneak peeks at the new season and personal anecdotes from Armisen, who is also a cast member on “Saturday Night Live,” and Brownstein, formerly of Sleater-Kinney and currently a member of the band Wild Flag. She tells us what to expect. Q: It seems like “Portlandia” is made for such a niche audience. Were you surprised so many people tuned in to the first season?A: I don’t know, I watched “The Wire” and I never grew up in a violent gang in Baltimore. I’ve always found if you are telling stories in a way that’s interesting or truthful, especially if you are hitting a level of absurdity that people can relate to, people will watch.Q: Do you feel more confident in your abilities as a comedian this time around?A: I don’t think I’ll ever feel 100 percent comfortable. Part of what drives me is the discomfort. In some ways, you have to constantly undermine yourself, at least psychologically, just to create risks to take. Comfort is not the best place to create art from. In terms of confidence, I felt better going into the second season. I may have slipped in the side door of television or comedy, but what the show is about is the relationship between Fred and I. That’s why it works.Q: The show makes fun of just about every subculture that exists in Portland, Ore. Can you show your face in public when you’re home?A: For the most part, people in Portland have been very supportive. Our job is not to be realistic. We’re not making a documentary. People do have a sense of humor about it. I haven’t been driven out of town yet.Q: Not too many television shows begin a new season with a live tour. What’s the idea?A: For the most part, the live show is an opportunity for Fred and I to interact with the audience – to take the sensitivity and earnestness of the show and share it with people. It’s not “Portlandia” live. It’s not comedy. It’s more akin to Fred and I hanging out in the living room and playing songs, telling stories and showing clips from the second season.Q: The great thing is the shows are sold out so you can come out, sit on a couch and hit “play” on the DVD.A: That’s so crass. Don’t think we haven’t thought of it. No, really, we were very surprised and flattered when the shows sold out. People’s faith in us has only made us want to work harder. This article appeared on page E – 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

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