The End of an Era: So Long, Suki’s Comedy Open Mic!

The End of an Era: So long, Suki’s Comedy Open Mic


Posted by Temple Lentz on Wed, Jan 23, 2013 at 2:03 PM

The Sklar Brothers performing at Sukis open mic


  • Photo by Veronica Heath
  • The Sklar Brothers performing at Suki’s open mic

On December 18, Suki’s Bar & Grill held its last comedy open mic. Sure, there are plenty of other mics in town, but the Suki’s mic had become somewhat legendary among both comedians and fans—for better and for worse. It was known as a really fun room, but also one that could be brutal. About a year ago, I was in a class with comedian Gabe Dinger, who told us that the Tuesday open mic at Helium is a great, really friendly mic. He could go there and have a great set and “get my ego good and inflated.” Then he could head over to Suki’s afterward “to have it crushed.”

Brad Stephens, a comic actor and bartender at Suki’s, started the open mic in summer of 2006, “Before there were 5,000 other mics in town,” and before Helium opened with their Tuesday mic. Shortly after starting, he asked Dax Jordan to host it. Jordan eventually moved on, and passed the hosting on to Jimmy Newstetter in March 2011. Newstetter says that the end of the mic was “amicable.” Changes in format and time, and the fact that the thing could sometimes stretch on for hours, had a lot to do with the decision to kill it. Says Newstetter, “Considering the steady decline of performers and patrons, I think it was just an easy business decision to replace it with karaoke.” Stephens confirmed that over the last number of months, “The bar just wasn’t making money on comedy anymore. In fact it was losing money. Everybody at the bar wants it to be successful. And even though a lot of comics took it personally, we’ve got to keep the doors open. If we can make comedy there successful again, the owners are open to it.”

And indeed, the open mic may have run its course but comedy at Suki’s isn’t gone for good. Stephens, Newstetter, and fellow comedian Whitney Streed are developing a regular comedy showcase that will offer something different from other showcases and keep comedy on the Suki’s stage, in a more sustainable way.

They’re still working out the details, but Suki’s management is on board with the show and, according to Streed, “We’ll have 4-5 local comics going up and getting suggestions from the audience on subjects to tell jokes about. They’ll get a subject, exhaust its humorous potential, and ask for a new one. The whole thing will close with everyone playing joke improv games like we used to play at the end of the open mic.” They’re looking at starting with a monthly show on first Sundays, beginning in March. Once things are finalized, says Streed, they’ll publicize it in February.

Although local comics and many comedy fans are glad to hear that there will still be some comedy at Suki’s, many are still a little sentimental about the loss of the open mic. Following are some memories and anecdotes about the local legend that was the Suki’s Tuesday open mic.

Brad Stephens, originator of the Suki’s open mic
I’ve seen prostitutes get punched, the Sklar brothers do a set randomly, Dax Jordan doing gay cowboy porn. I told jokes and they were terrible. I’ve seen pretty much every comedian in this town be groomed. Richard Bain was one of like four comedians there in the beginning, awkwardly sitting in the back and saying thank you to me for giving them free tater tots for showing up. I’m nobody in comedy but I feel really special that I started a mic that means so much to everybody else.

Dax Jordan, comedian and former Suki’s host
Being a hangout for local drunks and weirdos, as well as being beneath a hotel frequented by the VA’s and OHSU’s “families waiting for someone to die,” gave the night a funky vibe that occasionally broke out in violence. I and some other comics had to tackle an irate German visitor who ran the length of the room try and choke out Kyle Harbert, who escaped injury. I was close to the line of fire when Andy Wood made a joke involving race, and a patron facing away and sitting right at the bar just a few feet away from him, having only heard key words and not the whole joke, flippantly tossed a bottle of hot sauce over his shoulder at Andy and it shattered on the floor. That was pretty Blues Brothers for us.

Ira Novos retired here from Chicago, where he had a legendary status. He was like an awkward, keyboard-playing Borscht Belt relic who knew every song ever, so he became our in house musician. He played old west music for me as I developed what became a regular feature wherein I read the dirtiest, most ridiculous passages from an Old West period gay porn novel I found in the sound booth in my best Sam Elliott voice, index finger standing in as mustache.

Jimmy Newstetter, comedian and former Suki’s host
I believe Suki’s had a sense of chaos that made it feel like anything could happen. … In my opinion there is no greater comedy proving ground in Portland. If you can get a laugh at Suki’s, you can probably get a laugh anywhere. Not because you’re the greatest comedian in the world, but because you are capable of generating something worth noticing. I also truly believe (and this is a bit harsh, granted) that if you can’t get a laugh at Suki’s, then you probably shouldn’t be telling people that you are a comedian.

Virginia Jones, comedian
Suki’s was the second place I did open mic in Portland. This is typical, because the Boiler Room was the only open mic that had an ad in the Mercury stating that they had an open mic, so comics would start there, and they’d hear about Suki’s from other comedians, much in the way that people at AA meetings pass information to new people on the same journey.

Suki’s, with its hilarious combination of PSU students, comics, and real full-time die-hard alcoholics, was like performing in front of wild animals on a potent combination of synthetic opioids and speed.

Shelley Miller, comedy fan and supporter
I first went to Suki’s with Veronica Heath for her very first attempt at stand up comedy. That was in mid October, 2006 and I was hooked. I continued to go every Tuesday.Suki’s was always a place that comics came to perform and to network and socialize. I thought of the bar as being the family room of the Portland comedy community. It’s a wonderfully welcoming place with a friendly staff and a very eclectic group of regulars. Occasionally a nationally known comedian would drop by and do a quick set. My favorite was the night the Sklar Brothers did a set. Some of the best and brightest have started there and moved on. I’m very sad that Suki’s open mic is no longer. I am looking for another place to touch bases with my funny friends, but nothing is quite the same.

Whitney Streed, comedian
Suki’s has been a huge part of Portland since long before I started doing stand-up. I remember when I first started it was like this gauntlet that you had to pass through. Whether it was raucous or painfully silent, your set at Suki’s was likely to be soul-crushing, and I have spent more than one evening in tears in my car wondering what on earth I was doing with my life. But then sometimes this amazing thing would coalesce and somebody would become a giant: Richard Bain talking about Portland, Auggie Smith railing at the world, Dax Jordan reading gay cowboy porn. I remember Christian Ricketts and Jimmy Newstetter improvising some kind of canoe scene, I couldn’t even tell you what happened in it, but every single person in the bar was completely consumed with laughter. There’s a weird kind of magic in Suki’s that lets us transform the most base and average parts of our lives into something transcendent.

I’m quite sad that the Tuesday mic is going away. It feels like my parents just had to move out of my childhood home. So I’m excited to be working with Jimmy on producing a showcase there at the beginning of March, so at least comedy will continue to happen in some way in the space. I think it’s going to be a blast.

Veronica Heath, comedian
Some of the biggest events of my life started there. I did my very first open mic there in October 2006, so that’s where I fell in love with stand up, and I met my now-husband there over four years ago (he is also the daytime bartender there at Sukis!).

Sukis has so many memories for me that it is really hard to hammer down just a few. It was always awesome when a big(ger) name was in town for a show or Bridgetown and they would do the mic.

Ian Karmel, comedian
Doing stand-up at Suki’s was like doing stand-up in the back of a moving garbage truck, and if you can succeed in the back of a moving garbage truck, you know you’re on to something.

I think the idea that Suki’s represents is this notion of having fun and hanging out with friends without worrying so much about impressing anyone, or how your set went, or if your performance is going to affect how you’re booked. That spirit hung out at Suki’s, but it wasn’t owned by Suki’s, it was owned by the Portland comedians—and they, and that notion, aren’t going anywhere.

Belinda Carroll, comedian
Suki’s was a comic’s mic in the true sense of the word. Comics would come with brand new material and succeed—or bomb—and get feedback on the set. A lot of new comics did their very first sets at Suki’s. It was like a big comedy clubhouse. I think like everyone else, it’s a passing of an institution and we’re all sad about it. There will be other mics, but Suki’s legend will live on.

A Very Gothixxx New Year

Bloodmeadow and Helfire compare notes from the holidays, answer viewer questions, and look forward to a spooky new year!

Portland Comedians On Daniel Tosh- By Temple Lentz

Portland Comedians Weigh In on the Daniel Tosh Media Explosion. Yeah, We Even Decided to Ask a Few Women.

Posted by Temple Lentz on Fri, Jul 13, 2012 at 10:59 AM


A few days ago, Daniel Tosh fucked up. Sort of. Maybe. Depends who you talk to.

One thing we know for sure is when he exploded the Internet this week, it’s because he had an absolutely hilarious response to a heckler.

Or, wait. Maybe Twitter blew up because it wasn’t funny.

But definitely, we can all agree that he’s one of the few comedians who really pushes boundaries.
… Unless we don’t.

OK, I know for sure that that woman overreacted.
I mean, except for the people who think she kind of had a point.

Come on, Internet! Someone out there tell me what to think about Daniel Tosh’s now-famous gang-rape joke and the entirely subjective nature of the comedic art form!!!

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, I congratulate you for spending far less time online than I do.


But to get everyone up to speed, let’s review: Last Friday, Daniel Tosh did a set at LA’s Laugh Factory. Accounts of the actual interaction vary and no source seems completely reliable. It’s become a huge mess of she said/he said/ everyone on the Internet said, but it’s generally agreed that Tosh said something like “Rape is always funny.” The woman then protested something like, “No! Rape is never funny!” To which Tosh shot back something like, “Wouldn’t it be funny if she got raped by five guys, like right now?”

It might or might not be funny, but it’d definitely be irony, which the woman in question did not appreciate. When she got home, she blogged about it. It caught fire, and for the last few days pretty much anyone who pays attention to comedy, pop culture, or Twitter hashtags about the hilarity of jokes about violence against women, has taken to the Internet assert their opinion about it. And those opinions run the gamut, from sharp, false-bravado defenses of Tosh to meandering graduate-school essays about male vs. female gaze and the nature of power, to a really funny, concise Onion article.

I started wondering what our own comics here in Portland were thinking about it—not so much the overplayed question of whether or not some topics should be off-limits, but what this incident can illuminate about the comedian’s process, how people determine what is and isn’t funny to them, and the implied and real relationships between comedian and audience.

I ended up getting pages and pages’ worth of interesting, thoughtful responses from a lot of our local comedians (and a couple of recent locals who are now in LA), and the answers are as diverse as their personal comedic styles. In the interest of time and space, what I include here is just a sample of what each of them said. This post is going to get its own ISBN as it is, but even so I still wasn’t able to include everything.

Although every comedian had a slightly different perspective, the one thing they all do agree on, emphatically, is that no topic should be “off-limits” for comedy. That said, the important part of talking about sensitive issues is making sure your joke is actually a joke, and is actually funny.

Belinda Carroll: My personal opinion is that comedy often exists to bring light to dark subjects, so ideally, no—there isn’t any subject that is off limits. I think comedy done well can make us laugh at things that would normally make us upset or nervous and can defuse subjects that we wouldn’t normally bring up at the dinner table.

Lonnie Bruhn: I strongly believe that comedians should be allowed to talk about whatever we want. It is what we get paid to do. It is our job to break down the challenges of life’s struggles no matter how deep and challenging the topic is. It is has never been about breaking down what we should discuss, it has always been about breaking down what we shouldn’t discuss. This is where the funny is.

(There’s irony here if you know what Lonnie’s rep is)

Sean Jordan: With stand up you sort of enter into a contract as an audience member to take whatever the entertainer says as a joke. In turn, we as entertainers, enter into a contract to make that particular subject funny. If that’s something that a comic can’t do with a certain topic then they should stay away from the subject.

Stephanie Purtle: I think it is wrong-headed to say that any topic is off limits. I actually have two jokes about rape, and I am proud of them because I feel they are smart and they make important points. One of the jokes is about the time a guy ran up behind me on a dark street, and when I gasped he said, “It’s ok sweetie, I’m not going to hurt you. You’re hot, but you’re not that hot.” My joke is a way for me to process what happened to me, and to critique exactly how messed up it is that he said that. I would never say anything on stage that disempowers women, and if someone were to be offended by my joke I would be confident in defending its merits. However, rape is not always funny.

Shane Torres: In my eyes there are more bad rape jokes than funny ones, but I do think we (audience and comedians) are forced to sit through some real garbage to find something funny about a subject. Almost every single comedian says something that offends another group of people. A comedian is responsible for the funny.

And it’s that “But is it funny?” that many of the local comics agree on. Comedy is subjective, and we all come to it with our own frames of reference. What some of the comics who are bothered by Tosh’s “joke” seem to think is that, well, it wasn’t really that much of a “joke.”

Purtle: There are many, many jokes about rape that not only fail to make a constructive point, they actively work to make rape seem less serious and traumatic than it truly is. He joked that it would be funny if this woman was raped in that very room. The comment makes light of rape as something to laugh at just because, and it completely disregards all the horrible effects rape has on the victim. It fails to make any real point, instead it just laughs at rape for the sake of being “edgy.” I fail to see how that is funny.

Joe Hieronymus: Not everybody has the deft touch to be able to handle sensitive topics. Amateurs seem to always start with that stuff, at open mics. Watching, I just think, “Why are you talking about pedophilia and how much you hate women? Why don’t you just be funny?”

Whitney Streed: I want to make it clear that I’m not at all a fan of Daniel Tosh. I find him boring, as I do many of the comics whose goal is to just be offensive and “push the envelope” by saying really outlandish things that they do not believe are true just because they get a rise out of people. It’s not that I dislike offensive things. Some of my favorite comics like Doug Stanhope are deeply offensive. I just want offensive jokes that are about real things. I want an emotional investment from the comedian. Pushing boundaries just because they’re there is rather shallow, and just deciding to say untrue things because you know it will bother people seems like a damned waste of this amazing art that very few people get to do.

So how do you know if a joke about a challenging topic is funny?

Again, taste is subjective — but many of our comics agree that honesty and the willingness to take a personal risk is a big part of it. If it’s an easy laugh, it’s probably not worth it.

Kristine Levine: I did a show in Cincinnati with Doug Stanhope a few months ago. A woman and her husband walked out. The woman complained to the staff, “I know edgy humor, I watch Tosh-point-zero, I get it, but this lady is TOO MUCH.” Doug got on stage and said, “You know why Kristine’s too much? Because Tosh is kidding, and she isn’t.” That pretty much sums it up. I like what Tosh does but it clearly is all a joke.

Mark Saltveit: I don’t know Tosh’s act well enough to offer a direct opinion on what he’s doing with it. I’ve watched his show a little and not been interested enough to watch more. But someone like Louis CK offers an interesting comparison. Louis tackles the most sensitive issues (including race, rape, misogyny, etc.) but always in a way that sheds light on the subject and digs into the meat of what makes them hot buttons. From what little I’ve seen, Tosh is just poking the beehive, slapping hot buttons as a cheap way to maintain interest in his jokes.

Ron Funches: I did not see the actual outburst so I don’t want to comment directly on what he said. From what I heard, no — there isn’t actually a joke there to get. There is a definite difference between talking about a uncomfortable truth and just going for shock. I don’t think there was any truth in his statement. And I think the bigger issue here is the fact that rape is so prevalent in our society that perhaps it’s better to not use a cheap joke at the expense of someone who may have been victimized.

Some of the better comedian and feminist analyses of the situation and the “joke” reflect the idea espoused by some of our comics, that it was also the context that made Tosh’s remark extremely unfunny.

One in five American women will be or have been victims of sexual assault.

In the building I’m sitting in right now to write this, that means at least three of us are members of a not-so-exclusive little club. Strangely, no one seems super excited about wearing the membership pin on their lapel. So does that mean joking about rape should be off limits? Not at all. But many people do think that if you’re going to try to joke about it, and knowing that a comic’s connection to, and earning the trust of, their audience is everything, you might want to work a little bit harder to make that shit work.

Virginia Jones: Why is gang rape the first thing that he goes to, because he’s talking to a woman? Would he tell a man it would be funny if he were gang-raped in public? Maybe he says it all the time and it never makes news, but I doubt it.

Jen Allen: The way Tosh decided to shut this woman down was no solid choice. He could have reacted in a multitude of ways. Even saying to the the woman, “Hold on lady, you haven’t even heard the joke yet.” But instead he decided to ignite the situation rather than defuse it by personally attacking her. Thus alienating the woman, her friend, and other audience members. Most important was by personally attacking the woman, Tosh validated her initial reaction — that rape jokes are never funny. Is Tosh a bad guy? No. Did he apologize? Yes. We are human and we make mistakes. I’m sure he knows what he did and how he will handle a situation like that in the future. Because that’s what comedians do — they learn and move on to make another funny.

Purtle: I noticed that most of the people who dismiss Tosh’s behavior are men. I don’t think they are horrible people, but I think most men have never felt as vulnerable to attack as women do on a daily basis. One night when I did [one of my rape jokes], a guy in the audience yelled, “Carry a fucking gun!” I honestly think that says something about how guys don’t really grasp what it is like to be a woman and having to worry about rape.

Stacey Hallal: At Curious, we’ve had two sketches that were extremely provocative. One about Black History Month and one about a dance club. We had a great conversation with an African-American teacher from Jefferson who came to the show about the Black History Month sketch, made a few tweaks, and felt it was communicating what we wanted, that white people don’t know anything about black history, only pop culture. The dance club sketch was a quick dumb black-out. We were criticized by someone who was drunk and rude throughout the whole show and this sketch just got her going. I tried to tweak it a few times, but eventually we cut it because enough people shared her concern and it wasn’t worth it. If a sketch or a joke makes the point I want, I will keep it. If it offends people for no point, then I’ll change or cut it.

Even as comics and commentators discuss the appropriateness, or not, of Tosh’s choice, many are also defending his action. Not even so much because of the content but because they adamantly feel that pushing boundaries is a comedian’s job. Learning from mistakes is one of the key ways that comedians improve their acts, so maybe we should all just chill out a little and cut him the same kind of slack we ourselves would want.

Ian Karmel: As stand-up comedians, we come up with an idea that we want to talk about, we think about it, maybe we sit down and write about that idea. If we like the idea, we’ll go to an open mic or a show and try to work out that idea on stage, then we take it back to the lab and tinker with it, so we can bring it up on stage and refine it some more. I’m Ian Karmel, I have the privilege of working out jokes in relative anonymity. When you’re as famous as Tosh, you don’t go to open mics anymore, you go work out new material at The Laugh Factory, The Comedy Store, The Improv or whatever those clubs are in New York City. [He tried out] some new dirty and controversial material, and someone in the crowd had a problem with it. They heckled him, he came over the top and tried to shut the heckler up without departing from his topic, and they got their feelings hurt. Fine, that’s a valid emotion to have, but it’s fucking ridiculous to try and crucify Tosh because of it. Oh, you didn’t like a half-formed joke? Do you also walk into a kitchen and complain that a bowl of raw eggs isn’t an omelet yet?

Bri Pruett: Being heckled is fucking scary. Here you are concentrating on your jokes and trying to get your brains synched up with your audience, when some asshole ruins your flow. So you have to find a lot of mental clarity. A lot of comics discourage heckling (or talking or yelling) by playing high status and putting the heckler down, so no one else gets any funny ideas. The best comics use the heckler as a scene partner and get jokes out of their interaction with said asshole. Tosh made an excellent point when he said that it would have been funny if a woman who said “rape jokes are never funny,” was then raped, because that’s what irony is. I mean, it wouldn’t have been funny to anyone there at the club; but if you were reading about it later, or heard it in a monologue of a late night show, yes funny. I repeated the interaction to about ten people, mostly women, who all chuckled a bit.

Xander Deveaux: When he said that he thought it would be funny if that woman was raped, after she voiced her opinion on the subject of rape never being funny, that scenario would be funny. It would be ironic, and irony is what helps create and sustain stand-up comedy. That was his point, everything can be made funny, and you’re wrong if you disagree. If you watch a comedian and you agree and enjoy everything they say, then you didn’t watch a comedian, you watched a clown, and your enjoyment of that says more about you than it does the performer.

Some comics, here in town and out in the rest of the world, have said, essentially, if you don’t want to be offended, then you shouldn’t go to comedy clubs. And while that’s a little reductive, it’s reasonable to think that anyone who insists on living in a happy bubble without friction is going to be sorely disappointed at the lack of venues that will accommodate them.

But does that mean an audience should just accept whatever it gets?

As the hilarious and astute Lindy West wrote on Jezebel, a comic’s right to tell rape jokes is equal to an audience’s right to expect those jokes to be funny.

“Ninety percent of your rape material is not working, and you can tell it’s not working because your audience is telling you that they hate those jokes. This is the feedback you asked for.If people don’t want to be offended, they shouldn’t go to comedy clubs? Maybe. But if you don’t want people to react to your jokes, you shouldn’t get on stage and tell your jokes to people.”

It’s a sentiment shared by some of the comics here, too.

Susan Rice: I believe in freedom of free speech. He had the right to tell a joke with rape in it. He is also free to accept the consequences. So go ahead, guys. Keep writing those rape jokes; eventually you’ll figure it out, but not without consequences.

Shawn Fleek: First off, Daniel Tosh is a comedian like “Pop-Up Video” is a Music Theory class. His humor has made me laugh before, but that’s because I’m an immature moron who is somewhat easily entertained. When you do stand-up you live by the laugh and you die by the silence. If he’d tried a little harder and not just gone for a cheap laugh or a shock, maybe he’d have kept it together and not be forced to apologize for being an asshole. Honestly you’d think the people who went to see him would have known better, since I’m pretty sure that a ticket to a Tosh live show comes with a free Rohypnol, a Slipknot T-shirt and a roll of duct tape.

Jones: I believe in freedom of speech, and I will fight for your right to say anything. However, having a microphone in your hand does not guarantee that what you say will be accepted. Do what you will, but that doesn’t mean there will never be backlash. You don’t have special dispensation because you’re onstage in a dirty hoody.

Interestingly (to me, at least), many of the comics who defend Tosh generally agree with a lot of the ones who don’t on at least one point: that one of the biggest insults surrounding the incident is that it was just so … hacky. It’s not that he touched on rape that’s the problem, so much as the fact that he just did it so badly. Karmel made a great point about the probability he was trying something new and it tanked. But it’s also been argued that perhaps we should hold an internationally famous pro to a different standard than the guy who just came to Suki’s for the first time ever.

Jessie McCoy: I’ve seen similar things happen at countless open mics and when people like Daniel Tosh get so much attention it just adds to the problem.

Saltveit: Daniel Tosh is the top-rated star on Comedy Central, which (along with HBO) is the the single biggest TV outlet for comedy. And your comedy career success is defined precisely by how much you’re on TV. So Tosh is a huge power player with the biggest outfit in comedy.

Marcia Belsky: To me, my strongest opinion was that it makes him look like an amateur. Any dumb first-time open mic comic can go tell the drunk lady heckler to go get raped. I usually prefer for the comic to be a bit more clever.

Levine: Saying someone should get raped, to me, is like how comedians would say someone should get ass cancer in the ‘90s. It’s hack now. I do have a bit about rape, but I also think we (comedians and civilians alike) throw the word around loosely like it’s nothing. “Wow I really got raped on my taxes this year…” Meanwhile, the rape survivor accountant starts having a panic attack.

Regardless of where you fall on the opinion spectrum, the news cycle will probably be burying this issue pretty quickly as (as long as people like me stop trying to write about it). So I’ll leave you with a comment that I, personally, found pretty damn funny.

Streed: I think the funniest thing to come out of this incident is a petition to get Daniel Tosh to devote a whole half an hour special to rape awareness. It’s like tobacco-sponsored anti-smoking ads. How absurd.


Bridgetown Festival Postmortem

Photo of Jon Glaser by Liezl Estipona

Well, we’re all winners, because we all got to tell jokes and hang out at the 5th annual Bridgetown Comedy Festival, which was widely regarded as The Best Yet, but here are some of my random thoughts on the event:

Party Excellence:

My Shortest Attendance Of A Party, Ever: The promotional shindig for the Riot, LA’s alternative comedy festival- I got there at 1, I gave Pete Holmes a hug and watched Lachlan Patterson pretend to play the harp, the cops busted it at 1:10 and we were bringing our noise disturbance to the street.


Person Who Is The Best Partner For An Extended Interpretive Dance: Jono Zalay

Best Sex Talk: Jon Glaser

Most Multi-Talented: Mary Mack

Most Amazing Dancer Besides Me: Guy Branum.  Way to play to the stereotype, baby.

Least Surprising Winner of a Trivia Contest Who Is Nonetheless Very Fun To Play With: TV Geek Paul Goebel.

Third Person To Get Engaged At or Near Bridgetown, That I Know Of: David Cope

Most Amazing, Most Giving, Most Funny, Most Worshipped: Maria Bamford

Dummy Most Likely To Have Her Badge And ID Stolen By Drunk Sluts At An Afterparty: Me

Best Combination Of Funny and Good Hugs: Tim Harmston

Hottest Person With A Fiftieth Birthday: Dwight Slade

Most Incredible Sensual Bird Mime: Kurt Braunholer

Funniest Person I Can’t Believe I Hadn’t Heard Of:  Dave Hill.  Smart, surreal, and very rock-and-roll- seriously, he’s amazing.

Most Talked About In Reverent Tones Of Adoration: James Adomian

Best Impression Of An Effeminate Southern Coin Collector: David Crowe

Show Which Had No Indication Of Being Well-Attended And Great: Hawthorne Lounge Portlandia Show, where we did comedy to the sounds of Guitar Wolf being played next door

Person Who Most Worried Me That He Would Fall Off The Large Thing He Had Climbed Onto, And Mar My Show With His Death: Patrick Keane

The Best Erotic Fiction About Star Trek And Mythology (lifetime award): Mike Drucker

Best Place To Meet Other Comics on a Delta Flight: The SLC-PDX leg from the Mormon-infested west coast hub.  I met one comic I knew and three I didn’t, but whom I identified from their bitching about being asked to host shows.

The Most Disturbing Portrait of Dora The Explorer: Aparna Nancherla

Most Amazing After-Party DJ: April Richardson

Most Likely To Be Mistaken For Each Other: Whitmer Thomas and Christian Ricketts

Least Twinlike Brothers: The Walsh Brothers (FLIPPING HILARIOUS)

Most Adorable: Alex Gavlick

Most Excited Fans: Tim Heidecker

Most People Showing Up For His Show Who Were Sad That He Was Stuck In Yakima, WA: Joe Frice

Most Hilariously Upside-Down Show: The Closing Show at the Bagdad, where Doug Benson, Todd Barry, and Matt Braunger opened so that they could run to other shows

Simply Wonderful: Rory Scovel

Most Discussed Panel: The Humor Code, where scientific mind Myq Kaplan and Superstitious Wunderkind Pete Holmes discussed theories about what makes things funny, and Mary Mack was kept down by the Man who would not supply her with a microphone.  Because The Man is afraid of The Truth!

Person Who I Stalked At The Coffeeshop The Most: Jake Barker

People I Most Wanted To See And Did Not Manage To See (aka The Bridgetown Curse): Janeane Garofalo and Claire Titelman.
Almost Too Fun To Hang Out With:  Janine Brito

Strangest Internet Distinction: Bridgetown Comedy Festival has the odd distinction of becoming Twitter spam: bots are tweeting  “BRIDGETOWN COMEDY FESTIVAL BLOG: THE WRAP-UP” today.

Hardest-Working Behind-The-Scenes (TIE): Volunteer Coordinator Charlene Conley, Logistics Manager Rylee Newton, Hospitality Manager Helen Vank, Transportation Coordinator Amanda Pants, and Organizer and COO Andy Wood.  Thanks everybody!

Three! More! Sleeps!

As the clock ticks down for the fifth annual Bridgetown Comedy Festival, I am so excited I can barely keep from jumping out of my skin, but also keep in mind that I’ve had quite a lot of coffee.

The schedule is a behemoth of amazing possibilities- please start perusing it now.  Please also note you can subscribe to the calendar on Google Calendar, a new feature for this year that’s pretty slick!

Anyone who is a fan of me personally will note that my shows are:

  • Bossanova Lounge Early Show
    $10.00 – Friday, April 13, 2012, 7:00 pm @ Bossanova Lounge

My first show is Friday the 13th!  Spoooooky!  I’ll be with the very funny Walsh Brothers, my new LA friend Brandon Vaughn, and Seattle professional art weirdo Emmett Montgomery!

Postscript: Everyone had a great set, and I was especially glad to enjoy Dave Child for the first time!    This was a super show, even though Maria Bamford watched my set and made me super nervous!  It’s just because she’s the most giving and wonderful human in the world, and also the funniest.

  • Best of SICC
    $20.00 – Saturday, April 14, 2012, 9:00 pm @ Bossanova Main

The Best of the Seattle International Comedy Competition- some legendary PNW heavy hitters, including Auggie Smith, Dax Jordan, and my LA BFF Eddie Pence, and Kyle Harbert, who kicked an amazing amount of ass his first competition.

Postscript: On the down side, at the opening of this show, I performed for 10 people, but it had filled out by the end.  Auggie Smith’s new material on his marriage was hysterical.  Eddie Pence pointed out that what we think are pets are animal slaves.  Patrick Keane climbed set pieces and made me concerned not just that he would die, but that he would waste his time dying for a half-empty house.

  • Portlandia Players
    $10.00 – Sunday, April 15, 2012, 7:00 pm @ Hawthorne Theatre Lounge

Guess what all these comedians have in common!  We’ve all been on Portlandia!  Kristine Levine is a repeat performer, the very funny Alex Gavlick appears as Fred and Carrie’s son, Ian Karmel made waves first season, and Veronica Heath wore underwear on-camera!   A nice picking of PNW talent!

Postscript: This was unexpectedly a PACKED show- one of the really good ideas implemented at Bridgetown this year was doing more theme shows, so that non-comedy nerd people could get a feel for who/what they were seeing- and people like television, so I got to do an AWESOME set PACKED with people!  So good!

I’ll also be attending Baby Ketten Karaoke (LATE) on Thursday night at the Alibi, and Sunday night at Kelly’s Olympian, if you wanna sing with me and you don’t like sleep!  Can’t wait to see you!

Postscript: (Why not) Kettens still hate Alibi, but John Brophy sanged me a song, and on Sunday night’s Ketten at Kelly’s I achieved some life goals:
1. Singing Marc Almond’s disco cover of Jacky, rather than the “classy” Scott Walker version

2. Improvising a routine to another singer’s “All That Jazz” from Chicago

3. Completing the trilogy of Cramps songs on the Baby Ketten book with “Garbageman.”

All in all, a magical weekend of fun!

The “HA” in Hawthorne- Bridgetown Comedy 2012 – By Anne Adams

Bridgetown Comedy 2012

Portland’s biggest comedy fest is next week! Preview top acts!

Anne Adams

Can you believe Bridgetown Comedy Festival is turning five?
In some ways, it seems too soon; on the other hand, the four-day, 200-act laughathon has become so essential to springtime in Portland that the Pre-Humorous Period seems practically Jurassic. Who among us can even remember what the Hawthorne district was like before it rang with hearty guffaws?

Featured Performers

Festival co-founder Andy Wood is a recent PDX-pat now living and working in the LA comedy scene. He has a refined comedy palate that savors the absurd and the sardonic, and though he’s excited about all 200 guests, here are his can’t-miss picks.

Janeane Garofalo
“Such a comedy legend,” says Wood of the well-known actress, comedian, and liberal talk radio maven who taped her last standup special, If You Will, at Seattle’s Moore Theater. We’ve no doubt the tatted-out bespectacled feminist will find Portland similarly welcoming.

Tim Heidecker
You know The Tim & Eric Awesome Show? Well, this guy is that Tim, which makes him partially responsible for a seemingly endless barrage of blue lampoons and low-budget visual absurdity. Let’s see what he does live onstage.

Jon Glaser
You probably won’t recognize Jon Glaser from Adult Swim Network’s misanthropic and multi-layered comedy Delocated, even though he’s the star. Playing a character under witness protection, Glaser sports a black ski mask and speaks through a voice changer. He’ll appear in character for The Delocated Witness Protection Program Variety Show and join a panel discussion about his one-of-a-kind program.

Todd Barry
A well-recognized no-nonsense stand-up with tons of TV and road cred, Barry will join the Delocated events and also do a couple sets.

Brett Gelman
Described by Wood as “a comedy jack-of-all-trades, and a scene-stealer in every movie,” Gelman is a regular with Upright Citizens Brigade and Chris Elliot’s costar on Adult Swim’s slapstick action show Eagleheart.

Our Own Particularly “Portland” Picks

While Andy goes in for maximum cred and novelty, Culturephile must admit a different bias: We tend to love people who speak to us. We also favor comedians who call Portland home, and those who, despite not being from here, seem deeply committed to “keeping it weird,” particularly in a wordy, nerdy, Portland way. Hence, here are the acts that earn a flourish from PM’s highlighter.

Andy Wood
Bridgetown’s mastermind isn’t just a booker, folks; he’s also a comic who got his start in Southeast Portland, bravely bucking the mainstream back when indie rock still seemed the only coin of the realm. Though he’s too modest to make a big deal of it, without Wood there would be no Bridgetown, and probably a much smaller Portland comedy scene. So go buy this guy a drink.

Maria Bamford
“The Bammer” hates day jobs, does a pterodactyl impression, and jokes about being chronically single and in love with her pug. How is she not from Portland? Give this woman a key to the city.

Matt Braunger
Braunger won us over last October, sitting down for an interview with PM correspondent Rebecca Waits on the eve of taping his Comedy Central standup special at the Alberta Rose Theatre.

Ron Funches
Even funnier than his name makes him sound, Mr. Funches was featured in our latest March issue. “People can steal your jokes, but they can’t ‘out-you’ you,” muses the endearingly distinctive comic. 

Ian Karmel
Full disclosure: Our own bar pilot John Chandler was one of the judges last summer at the Helium Comedy contest that deemed Karmel The Funniest Person In Portland. Though that’s an ever harder title to hold, Karmel continues to prove his prominence with appearances on Portlandia and gut-bustingly good sets.

Virginia Jones
One of our Fall Arts issue featurees in 2010 and a participant in PAM’s Shine a Light event last fall, Ms. Jones was at the forefront of Portland’s comedy groundswell before migrating to the warmer climes of LA. The woman who impertinently retitled one of PAM’s priceless abstract bronze sculptures “The Scrunchie” is back to flip us even more lip.

Noteworthy Theme Shows

Think Bridgetown is all standup? Think again. Like many great fests, conventions, and consortiums, Bridgetown mixes in panel discussions and collaborations. The tent is even big enough for standup’s wacky cousin improv.

The Humor Code
Professor Peter McGraw and a panel of comedians including Pete Holmes, Myq Kaplan and more assess comedy culture clashes, from the infamous Muhammad cartoonist to Jewish jokes told in Palestine, hoping to figure out what—if anything—is universally funny.

Set List In this improv challenge, comics are given a never-before-seen “set list” of outrageous topics to perform on the spot, while the audience follows the list on the projection screen behind them. “This has been a huge hit at Edinburgh and everywhere else they’ve put it on,” says Wood.

The Super Serious Show
An LA-based showcase hits Portland with special guests, including Dave Hill and Conan writer Andres du Bouchet.

Bridgetown 2012 takes place APRIL 12-15.

Bridgetown Comedy Appeteaser!


 In its fifth year of existence and awesomeness, Bridgetown Comedy Festival is bringing back many favorites and veterans, like hilarious lefty mimic James Adomian and local boy/founder Matt Braunger, as well as AMAZING performers Maria Bamford, Tim Heidecker, and Todd Barry, but they have also gone out of their way to freshen up the offering to keep this festival exciting for everybody- over HALF the roster is new to Bridgetown, so look out for some hilarious new faces, as well as some great headliners that we just haven’t been lucky enough to host yet!

Also, please note that although the general population is 1%-2% red-headed, the Bridgetown line-up is 6% red-haired, which has got to mean something.  Tell me if you figure out what it means.

Portland favorite Doug Benson will be there, with his best friend/bodyguard/karate expert Graham Elwood!

Pete Holmes returns after setting the Bridgetown world on fire in 2011- this year, he  started the very strange and funny You Made It Weird podcast, has voiced a baby who sells stocks on the internet, and made return appearances on John Oliver’s Comedy Central stand-up show!

Former SNL writer and Onion contributor Mike Drucker will be back, he’s amazingly funny and cerebral- he has worked with Brian Posehn and Patton Oswalt, and has also hung out with my dogs!  Also, it’s his birthday today!

The incredibly talented, phenomenally awkward Jesse Case is returning to eat veggie dogs and crack jokes!

My tiny hero, Janine Brito, is returning from San Francisco, she made waves last year with her bowtie and her special jokes!  Goddamnit but she’s funny!

Even more exciting are some of the comics making their Bridgetown premiere:

Alice Wetterlund is a recent LA transplant from Noo Yawk, where she kicked all kindsa ass at the UCB and wrote with Bridgetown alum Kurt Braunholer.  She will recap the shit out of Grey’s Anatomy for you.

 Dan Mintz– he’s the voice of Tina on Bob’s Burgers, and even more than that, he’s a funny Alaskan.
Nate Bargatze–  A Tennessee native and national touring act, he’s the son of a magician, which is a common curse at his house.  He lives in New York City and wants to tell you jokes.

Sagar Bhatt-  He’s in sneaker commercials!  He was a finalist on Last Comic Standing!  He makes films!  My God, what doesn’t he do?

Lucas Dick- We’re excited for the Bridgetown premier of Andy Dick’s son, Lucas, who is very funny in his own right, but whom I hope will not try to fight me at an afterparty, or go missing for several days after the festival.

Mary Mack is an incredible and very unique performer, having appeared on Last Comic Standing and Live at Gotham.  She can play the mandolin and charm the birds out of the trees.  I like her, is what I guess I’m saying.  She’s on Marc Maron’s amazing podcast this week, so wet your beak!

Matt Ingebretson– he draws, he tweets, he stands up and tells jokes!  He’s written for Funny or Die and the Tommy Wi-Show!  Check out this amazin’ dude!

Taylor Williamson– He’s been on Last Comic Standing, Montreal Juste Pour Rire (but the English language version) MTV’s Total Request Live, and is the youngest person to do comedy on Craig Ferguson’s show.  (Low whistle)

Amanda Perrin-  A redheaded Canadian lady who’s funny- she might as well be our mascot.  She’s from Calgary and is hilarious.  Please make a point of checking her out!

Matt Fulchiron– He can be seen in his own Comedy Central Presents and has been featured on Live at Gotham, Last Comic Standing, Tosh.0, Craig Ferguson and Comics Unleashed, and is right now at SXSW, eating tacos and leering at UT students.

Guy Branum– He’s got a wikipedia page, which for me is the height of obvious awesomeness.  He’s a writer and regular panelist for Chelsea Lately, “Staff Homosexual” on Chelsea Lately and worked against type as Natalie Portman’s sassy gay friend in No Strings Attached. Guy also writes for the “Gay Voices” section of The Huffington Post, and ironically he’s not gay, just another straight actor pretending.  Just kidding, he’s as gay as the Queen’s hat.   Check his business out!  And when I say, “business”, I mean his comedy.

Katie Crown- What?  Another funny Canadian?  What are we, sponsoring green cards?  This lady has appeared on the Jon Dore show (le sigh!  So great), she’s a puppeteer and voice actor, and is in general crazy talented.

Ever Mainard– This lady kicks all kinds of ass in Chicago comedy, and is one of that city’s favorites.  She’ll improv you, and she’ll stand you up, she’ll make you laugh!

Ben Roy- He’s outta Colorado, where he ran a show with Bridgetown returning alum Adam Cayton-Holland- he’s performed at the New Faces showcase in Montreal and just about everyplace else!  His favorite Cormac McCarthy book is Suttree, which is also my favorite!  Fuck “The Road!”

Tone Bell- Won NBC’s Stand Up For Diversity contest in 2011, is a theatre major, likes cats, coffee, and making breakfast for nice girls.  He’s coming to Bridgetown out of Dallas, Texas.  If you’ve never seen a Texan before, approach with caution.

Other shows to watch out for: the amazing film FREAKDANCE will be screened!

The incredible long-form improv show, ASSSSCAT returns with another all-star cast!

Clear your calendars from April 12th to the 15th, buy tickets and find a place to sleep!  It’s comin’!  Follow @bridgetown on Twitter and like them on Facebook and do all that crap!  BECAUSE IT’S HOW TO HAVE FUN!

Updates!  Janeane Garofalo, Rory Scovel, and Jon Glaser!  And Amy Schumer!  And Mary Lynn Rajskub!  Holy Crap!