If you enjoy the quirky humor of former “Saturday Night Live” star Fred Armisen, then an embarrassment of riches is coming your way next week.
On Monday Armisen begins his stint as the bandleader for “Late Night With Seth Meyers,” and on Thursday his often side-splitting series “Portlandia” begins its fourth season at 10 p.m. (Armisen will launch the “Late Night” band and return periodically when his “Portlandia” schedule allows.)
As if doing two shows was not enough, Armisen is also releasing a series of 7-inch singles by some of the fake bands he’s performed with over the years on “SNL.” All of this makes the comic actor-musician very happy. “I just really love getting to do all these things, so I feel very fortunate.”
We recently chatted with Armisen by phone from New York, where he is in test tapings for “Late Night” and fine-tuning its theme song.
Q. If someone had told you “Portlandia” would be heading into season four back when you started would you be surprised?
A. Oh, absolutely surprised. Because even when we did the pilot we had no idea what it was going to be. We really thought, “Maybe we can get to do this for a little while.” We took nothing for granted, and we still take nothing for granted. We don’t assume anything. It actually helps us focus more on trying to make a good show.
Q. This season’s list of guest stars is long and diverse with everyone from musicians like Tuck and Patti to Jeff Tweedy of Wilco to Jello Biafra to old “SNL” pals like Maya Rudolph and Vanessa Bayer. Are people calling you and asking to get on?
A. Yes. Josh Homme [of Queens of the Stone Age] was like that as well. He’s also a friend. I feel like it should be that way where we all call each other as friends and say, “Hey, I want to come to your party!” And the other friend says, “Oh, absolutely, it’s on Monday!” That’s a lucky thing.
Q. One name that jumped out at me was Mike Nesmith, who I would imagine is someone with whom you feel a spiritual kinship?
A. I really do. He continues to be prolific. I love what his career is and was like. And he had the best attitude about it, about the Monkees and everything. And then also for me . . . I’m like, “Wow, I was in a sketch with one of the Monkees.” It’s really great. I don’t know how the other [creators] feel about this, Carrie [Brownstein] and John [Krisel], but I actually see some parallel to what the Monkees were and to “Portlandia.” They did a good mix of music and comedy and I hope to achieve that.
Q. When did you and Seth cook up the idea for you to lead his band?
A. A couple of weeks ago. (Laughs.) I’m not exaggerating. It was [“SNL”/“Late Night” producer] Lorne Michaels’s idea. They have the understanding that I’ve got to go and do “Portlandia” but the word that they used which I really was attracted to was curate. “Can you curate the band?” And I thought, absolutely. It’s a really good challenge, and it’s fun, and I love playing music and it’s in a venue where it doesn’t have to be taken that seriously. It’s this sort of side music, the frame around everything so it’s kind of nice that it doesn’t have to rely too heavily on it.
Q. Did the offer give you any pause at all in terms of your workload?
A. I always approach things like, Yes, let me try it. Let me expand what I usually consider to be my path. And those are the things that got me to where I am.
Q. Will you be writing original music for the show?
A. Yeah, I love it. It’s been my dream to make original music for TV. It’s such a cool thing. Because there’s no pressure on the length of song. And I don’t know if I have the talent to do an album of full songs, but if you’re telling me I’ve got to do a song that’s a minute or less? Absolutely.