As Jesus Christ, Fred Armisen Shows Why He's the Perfect Boyfriend on Man Seeking Woman
Portlandia's Fred Armisen stops by tomorrow's episode of Man Seeking Woman, titled "Honey," playing the sweetest man that roamed the Earth: Jesus Christ. (No, really.)
Yes, the Messiah himself shows up as the loving boyfriend of new office temp Rosa (Rosa Salazar), who Josh (Jay Baruchel) recently got to know, starting a season-long arc on his new love interest. But Josh has some serious competition when it comes to competing against the Son of God, who's full of love and goodness. Can Josh really find a way to show Rosa that he's better than, well, the Perfect Man on Earth?
We spoke to Armisen to learn more about his guest stint, and whether anything (or anyone) can overshadow him.
Was it hard to play Jesus Christ?
No, it was really easy playing Jesus because it’s such an easy outfit. It’s like, one piece, you know what I mean? So instead of having to put on a bunch of different gear, he dressed so simply back in those days. I think everyone probably dressed pretty simply. I think for efficiency, they just did the one garment. And then, as time went on, they were able to invent pants and stuff. So it was very easy. Also, he’s so peaceful that it was easy to be peaceful all the time.
Is this version of Jesus similar to what we would expect?
Yeah. I imagine he was probably like this anyway. He’s so good at being nice and forgiving that it makes everyone else feel bad about themselves, like, ‘Damn it, I wish I was like that.’ They wrote it in the way people would be envious of that kind of person.
How does Josh first encounter your character?
Josh is trying to ask [Rosa] out and she’s like, "Oh my boyfriend’s coming over" and there’s that moment where it’s like "Oh, she has a boyfriend." Then he comes over and he’s really understanding, and you can’t be mad at a person like that. You can’t be, like, upset that the person’s not a jerk.
Is there a lot of Bible-related humor in the episode?
No, they didn’t really cover it. I feel any huge religious or historical figure, if they were a human being, at some point they had to put their work and their job on the coat hanger. At some point, they had to take some time off and be a person. In my imagination, I think this is the way they wrote it, too. I think Jesus was, at some point, like, "Okay, I know I’m Jesus and everything, but this is my private, normal time. I don’t have to be that guy right now." And I feel like that’s probably happened to every historical figure. It’s like a day job.
How did you get approached for this role? You popped up last season as the voice of Japanese penis monster Tanaka. How did you react when showrunners said, "Hey, we want to bring you back as Jesus Christ"?
I’m very fortunate that the people working on this show are all my friends, and we’ve all worked together. I worked with Simon Rich on Saturday Night Live and executive producer Jonathan Krisel does Portlandia. I’ve been doing a lot of work via texting, and it’s really nice that these days you can just go, "Hey do you want to come up to Toronto for a day or two?" and then it’s a very easy fast answer. "Absolutely, sounds great. What’s it gonna to be? Oh, you’re going to be Jesus. Fantastic." It’s as simple as that. It’s a really nice community—I can’t believe I’m using that word, community—but that’s what it feels like. People just inviting each other around. That’s what I do on Portlandia; I’ll just text someone and be like, "Hey, come up and do an episode." And it’s been really nice. To go to a different city is always very romantic. It’s like, "Oh, I’m traveling for my job." There’s nothing that would’ve made me say no.
We saw Rosa very briefly in last week's episode "Card." What is she like?
I would say, optimistic. I think I’m even going to say, honest, and not honest like it’s a campaign. For the most part, she lays it all out as to what she’s about. And I would say benevolent, maybe slightly unaware, but not completely.
Does Josh have any chance at all with Rosa when Jesus is in the room?
I think so, yeah, that’s what keeps Josh going. Anyone has a chance at anything. I think, even deep inside, people have that optimism that can change their lives a little bit.
What was your favorite scene to shoot?
I would say [when we're] playing charades because it’s like this game of celebrity where you act out people. Whenever people play parlor games, you see the real person. They’re acting and really getting into it and stuff, so you see people at their most vulnerable.
Why should we watch this particular episode?
It’s such an enjoyable, fantastical show. There’s a fantasy feel about it, and it all speaks for itself. It’s so enjoyable on the level of getting lost in fantasy—also, who doesn’t want to see someone dressed up as Jesus? It’s a good outfit. It’s a really cool outfit.
Man Seeking Woman airs on Wednesdays at 10:30/9:30c on FXX.