I don’t watch nearly enough Portlandia. I’ve seen a few clips, and have savored the sumptuous absurdity of each one — this scene at a dog park is a beginner’s favorite — but I haven’t yet Netflix’d the series from start to finish. I feel a little shame in admitting this, given that Mrs. YHT and I visited Portland last year and had the chance to experience some of its cultural quirks up close. (I also got to experience some of its record stores up close, and came back with a backpack haphazardly stuffed with 45s. Fortunately, it managed to fit far enough under the seat in front of me on the plane that the flight attendant didn’t make me squish the records any closer together.)
We loved the city pretty much instantly, and I remember resolving to dive into Portlandia ASAP. Unfortunately I haven’t followed through, BUT I MEAN IT THIS TIME, and I have the segment above to thank.
It features Mann playing a down-on-her-luck version of herself who has resorted to cleaning houses after the music industry bottomed out. Much like she does in her “Labrador” video, Mann delivers her lines with exactly the right timing and seriousness, making Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein — also a musician in real life — look as yuptight (that’s the special kind of fussiness that yuppies exhibit) as their characters are designed to look.
Mann is funny in that dark, self-referential way I can’t resist, and this clip vigorously fans the flame of a love for Aimee Mann I didn’t even know I had until a few days ago. The “Labrador” video provided the spark, with the song itself acting as kindling, but my flash-fascination really started roaring when I hit up her Wikipedia page.
Did you know that Mann…
- went to high school in Richmond, VA
- played a German nihilist in The Big Lebowski
- is married to Sean Penn’s brother
- formed her own independent music label in 1999
- was an inaugural member of the Independent Music Awards in 2002
- is a comedic genius
OK, so that last one is subjective, but still! Crazy right? This is definitely one of those times when I’m ridiculously late to the party, but couldn’t be happier about joining the fun, regardless of my timing. The funny thing is that I totally recognize the melody from the chorus of “Save Me,” the song Mann plays in her concert-for-two near the end of her Portlandia appearance, but I never noticed how enjoyably creepy the tune is. I should have though, because it’s one of 9 Mann songs on the soundtrack to Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia, a movie so insidious and unsettling that I didn’t feel normal for days after watching it. And that was before Tom Cruise got all couch-jumpy on us — I can’t imagine how badly my skin would crawl if I re-watched Magnolia now. Good lord. Though, now that I know (Thanks,Wikipedia!) that the plot of the movie is based on characters from Aimee Mann songs, I’m seriously considering giving it another go.
Give Portlandia a go by watching Mann’s appearance above (there’s another fantastic cameo near the end), and sample “Save Me” below to save yourself from a Mann-free Friday.