The conversation between Fred Armisen and clown got off to a very quick start in the latest offering of The Electric Theater. Armisen would change the dynamic a bit and rather than field a question, he hit clown with a big one right out of the gate.
Though he has touched on it in the past, clown would confide that in all the years he has participated in interviews, he's never been asked the questions he wanted to hear. In cultivating The Electric Theater, the conventional format of question and answer just wasn't conducive to having an actual conversation.
clown explained the core of electric Theater is in two stranger from different worlds finding common ground during the course of conversation. Armisen expressed a sense of appreciation for someone that puts that kind of emphasis on personal communication.
Considering both personalities have spent a hefty portion of their career behind a drum kit, it makes the sense that the conversation would start there. Comparing the role of a drummer to that of an actor in a cast, Armisen would explain the similarities in that he's part fo a group effort. In much the same way the drummer works so the band can shine, his role as an actor is to ensure everyone in the sketch shines the same.
Naturally there would be some discussion of Saturday Night Live. With both clown and Armisen being from the same generation, their experience with the show was similar.
Exchanging favorite cast members like Bill Murray, Dan Akryod, Steve Martin, on to Eddie Murphy and Phil Hartman, and onto Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, Chris Farley and Will Farrell.
Another important element to SNL for both clown and Armisen has always been the music element of the show. Armisen would recall important performances from the likes of Blonide and clown would emphasize how he has always appreciated the two-song performance that SNL brought to the table.
Though the commonalities in The Electric Theater are always interesting, the contrasting viewpoints always make for good stuff too. The two would arrive at a crossroads when it came to acting. clown expressed his difficulty with acting in that he has trouble disconnecting himself from his character. Armisen would go onto explain that the ability to pretend to be someone else, for him, was something he has been able to do comfortably.
For clown, the idea of playing a character only seemed to make sense if the sensibilities of the character align with the performer - think Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver. For Armisen, doing something unfamiliar is seemingly what piques his interest.
The 75-minute exchange highlighted just what The Electric Theater was always intended to do; find common ground among strangers during the course of a conversation. From acting, to playing music, to dealing with the new realities of life during a pandemic, clown and Armisen had never met one another, but the substance of the conversation would definitely suggest otherwise.
Listen to the complete conversation with Fred Armisen on The Electric Theater below.