Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What does "Put a Bird on It" mean?

"Put a Bird on It" comes from a sketch that aired on the IFC show Portlandia, co-starring, co-created, and co-written by Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein.

In the bit, the duo is seen entering a home decor store "where nothing has birds on it," and applying bird decals, stenciling birds, and embroidering birds onto lamps, cards, tote bags, tea pots, and other accessories. All the while, "Bryce Shivers" and "Lisa Eversman" make comments like, "What a sad little tote bag. I know! I'll put a bird on it!" The two are super-stoked on birds-- until a real bird appears and they become grossed-out.

Like other sketches on the show, it appears to be a riff on hipster culture; this time, a play on the multiple bird-plastered fashion, accessory,and home items available in popular stores, Etsy artists hawking bird-adorned wares, and a general propensity for designers and artists of all types to add an avian influence to their creations.

Since the sketch's debut in early 2011, fans of fashion, art, and home design have begun using the "Put a Bird on It" phrase to apply to any design trend that has become so popular it's reached it's peak, and is bordering on over-saturation. In other words, if "Put a Bird on It" were in the Urban Dictionary, it would say that when someone proclaims something has become "Put a Bird on It", they mean something has reached the point that it's become "played out".

Of course, "Put a Bird on It" still means just that to many fans of the show. People are still "Putting a Bird on It" because it's become something of a meme, just because they like birds, or simply as a tribute to the hilariousness that is Portlandia.

So what does "Put a Bird on It" mean to you?


  1. It's the designer's equivalent to "jumping the shark."

  2. When I was a kid, my mom had a little box of odd things and one of the things was a bird on a short wire that you added to a flower arrangement or plant. When we would pout, she would say "pull in that lip or I'll put a bird on it!". Yikes! It worked every time.


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