Thursday, February 27, 2014

What If Pittsburgh Had Its Own Portlandia?

The newest season of Portlandia is coming up soon. Starring Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, it’s a sketch comedy that plays off of Portland's…quirky reputation. 

Of course, us Pittsburghers are no stranger to Portland.

There have been quite a few comparisons between the once-trendy Oregon metropolis and the Steel City, mostly due to each city's reputation as a place with a growing innovative class and a haven for hipsters. Once considered old with a rusty reputation as a burned-out post-industrial hub, Pittsburgh had transformed and sold itself as a city not on the rise, but reclaiming its earned reputation as a place where important things are happening...and not without merit.

But still, the popularity of Portlandia got me to thinking…what if there were a version of Portlandia, only for Pittsburgh? Kind of like a Yinztopia, if you will. Just to give you an idea of how awesome this coukd be, gere are a few ideas for recurring sketches:

  • Michael Keaton guest stars as an out-of-place industrial manager plopped into a dying steel factory, where through sheer force of his personality and keen diplomacy wins over the workforce and gets the place up and profitably a craft brewery.
  • A forty-part historical documentary on the flooding of the Mon Wharf.
  • A couple who invents time travel and, with the entire recorded history of all mankind at their fingertips and the ability to change the course of history for the better, spend their time going to Hills to buy popcorn, visiting the Civic Arena to call Jaromir Jagr a jagoff, and watching Nick Perry pull the 666 drawing.
  • Instead of a time machine, another couple just goes to Kennywood where they are immediately transported to 1978.
  • A charmingly unrealistic sketch where the mayor of Pittsburgh (Bill Peduto, playing himself) engages in routine administrative city work by using a social media platform like, say, Twitter to help facilitate some boring but essential civic task, like filling potholes.
  • A pretentious couple who critiques the art we have in our parking garages.
  • David Conrad and Joe Manganiello give dating advice to Pittsburgh, which mostly boils down to “Instead of ‘running out of gas,’ just take 28 home so you have plenty of time to get all handsy”; “Don’t use Hunt’s, even if it’s the only option, on your first date, or ever,” and “Try your very hardest to look a lot like us as possible.”
  • A pitched battle between two rival gangs: The Smileys (who eat late at night at Eat ‘N’ Park) and the Frownies (who eat late at night at Kings).
  • A recurring sketch centering on that one person that just now got why Kings calls them Frownies.
  • A professor attempts to explain to tourists why Pittsburgh seems to like mattresses and dinosaurs so much since there is no discernible reason for this to be the case.*
  • A middle-aged couple routinely tries to convince the rest of the world that Pittsburgh isn’t really all that racist by displaying such diverse activities as being concerned for a minute or two after reading that one article about the August Wilson Center closing down, seeing a show at the Rex, pronouncing the starting lineup of the Pirates correctly, and knowing that one guy from that thing you went to a year ago that they think might be from either China or Mexico.
  • A sports enthusiast who subscribes to an increasingly elaborate set of excuses as to why the Steelers are having a losing season, including everything from the clear pecuniary benefits Roger Goodell and the refs are making from Vegas bookmakers to the lasting effects of Ben Roethlisberger’s decades-old motorcycle accident I think everyone kind of forgot about.
  • I’m not sure how the sketch will start, but it will end with Sheetz selling pierogis crammed full of French fries, chipped ham, and haluski and then deep-frying it in Sarris chocolate.**
  • A group of people try to increase their exposure to fine culture here in the city, so they make it a plan to start attending more live performances. Their itinerary involves going to see The Chief, a college production of The Chief, and a Pirates game.
  • Billy Gardell standing next to Frick Park yelling at passing bicyclists that they would get a lot more respect from drivers if their bikes ran on gasoline and called them motorcycles.
  • Two local businesses attempt to outdo each other by making more and more obnoxious radio commercials until they start selling a negative number of cars.
  • A hilarious sketch where people think it’s acceptable to wear Steelers jerseys to church services as formal wear.
Call me crazy, but I think this just might work.

*I would like to know this as well.
**I would probably eat this.

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