Fred Armisen Finds A New Use For Payphones, Then Answers 8 Random Questions Via Email

Imagine that you're walking the streets of New York. You pass by a ringing payphone, unaware that there's a former "Saturday Night Live" cast member on the line, just waiting to invite you to a secret comedy show. Do you pick it up? Or do you pass it by?

Okay, we know what you're thinking: Wait, payphones are still a thing?

But seriously, Fred Armisen presented several New Yorkers with that choice, inviting adventurous passersby to a show at The Comedy Cellar by calling a payphone from across the street. It's all part of a campaign for Heineken called Routine Interruptions, in which old payphones are used to lure city dwellers to secret locations, because that isn't creepy at all:

Video Has Been Removed

To mark the release of the video, we exchanged emails with Armisen, asking him eight random questions about "SNL," "Portlandia," the potato salad Kickstarter and some other stuff:

1. When was the last time you used a payphone? Do you miss them at all?
I think the last time I used one was in the late 90's when I was touring with this band. We would have to stop and call a venue to get directions as we approached a city. I remember having to use a calling card pretty often for that. I thought about that when I was doing the Heineken piece. It was fun seeing people's reactions to a ringing payphone in 2014.

2. Describe your first quintessential "New York" moment.
My earliest memory is driving to the city with my parents. My mom really wanted for me to get to know New York, and she brought me to the mechanical window displays at the department stores on Fifth Avenue.

3. You're nominated for an Emmy for "Portlandia." Congratulations! Can you describe what goes in the perfect acceptance speech?
A thick accent.

4. Do you think Portland has become more or less like "Portlandia" since you started the show?
It's Portland-ness eclipses any outside influence. That's what I love about it. Unaffected and full of character.

5. How did you react when you found out a guy raised over $40,000 to make potato salad on Kickstarter?
I blindly support everything.

6. What's your favorite thing about being Seth Meyers' band leader?
Getting to hang out with my friends.

7. If you could go back in time and be a drummer in any band, what would it be?
The Three Tenors.

8. Name one thing that you miss about "SNL" and one thing you really don't.
I miss the live audience. So much energy, right from the start and all the way through. And on the late night writing nights, we all ended up eating quite a bit of very unhealthy food. I don't miss the feeling right after that. But just that feeling, because really, I think I do miss that food, now that I think about it. I might have some now, but that is top secret. It does not leave this page.



Fred Armisen