As a humor writer, sometimes stand-up and consumer of all things funny, I’m constantly reading articles and books about when to make jokes, which topics are considered off limits in comedy and when it’s “too soon” to poke fun of tragic events. September 11, 2001 comes up often in those articles and discussions. It’s been thirteen years yet some people think jokes about 9/11 are still in poor taste.
Portlandia is an acquired taste. I’m a fan of the show, have been since the beginning, but most people are not. To each his own. Just like with 9/11 humor, Portlandia is not for some people. For those who don’t watch, or just don’t like, Portlandia often finds a way to poke fun at “taboo” comedy topics. We all know where this piece is going so let’s just get there.
In a two-part sketch called ‘Motorcycle’, Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein play a married couple who want to put a spark back in their marriage so they buy motorcycles. This leads to meeting another couple, who unbeknownst to Fred and Carrie, are swingers. The awkward moment of realization somehow turns to a discussion about the day of 9/11.
And that’s how it’s done.