Edit: I have mothballed this page, since I have moved out of Portland- please see the amazing PDX comedy blog for more updated information!
I have had some questions lately about where people can see free and enjoyable local comedy, or where they should go to perform some, and although I try hard not to have anything useful on this page, I am too lazy to write things down for people and would like to have something on the internet.
Monday Nights: Boiler Room with Kevin Michael-Moore, 503-227-5441. NW 3rd and Davis.
This is the longest-running open mic in Portland. It is celebrating its ninth anniversary! It’s old enough to earn its own money! To maintain quality, the bulk of this show is now PREBOOKED, contact Kevin by phone or on Facebook – but you can also show up at 8:30 and try to get on one of the limited available slots! Kevin Michael-Moore is an amazing emcee. Kevin doesn’t take any shit, and keeps the chitchat to a minimum.
Tuesday Nights: Suki’s, at SW 4th and Carruthers. 9:30-forever. Host Jimmy Newstetter!
This is a fun room in the dive bar in the basement of Travelodge. The comics believe that sitting in the small cul-de-sac room is the same thing as being in a soundproof box. Dax is skilled and funny, and this is the hands-DOWN best place to be ignored by your friends while they talk about who threw up in whose car, and also who has pot.
Dante’s, W Burnside and 2nd. Rochelle Love is at Dante’s running a mike from 8:30 to 10 on Tuesdays! No cover!
HELIUM at SE 9th and Hawthorne has a free open mic- sign-up is between 6 and 7, line-up posted at 7:30, show starts at 8! Work out your chops at a pro venue!
Wednesdays: The Brody Improv downtown is hosting a regular mic on Wednesday nights! Show at 8:30! Contact Tom Johnson at TMJbrody@gmail.com before Wednesday to sign up! No cover!
There’s a late-night open mike at Tonic after Whitney Streed’s 8pm showcase! Come on out and sign on up!
Thursdays: Curious Comedy is adding a second open mike on first and third Thursdays, with hosts Jen Allen and Mandie Allietta! It starts at 9:30 and is free, signup is on email in advance, so find those gals on Facebook!
The Bulldog Tavern on West Burnside runs an open mike whenever the 8 o’clock showcase is over, show up and ask for Brady!
Fridays: The Brody Theatre has added a second free open mike after their 8:30 Fly Ass Jokes showcase- contact Tom Johnson before 3PM Friday to reserve a slot- TMJbrody@gmail.com! No cover, starts around 10:00!
The Hungry Tiger, Too has a new comedy open mike on Saturday nights! Sign-up is at 9:30, the show’s at 10. Rotating Hosts. Go and look to see who looks annoyed, and attempt to sign up with them!
HARVEY’S Comedy Club is re-introducing their open mike on Sundays on the MAINSTAGE at 9:00! Signup starts at the side bar at 8- Come show them what you’ve got!
A biweekly Sunday night mic at 9PM at the beautiful Curious Comedy Theatre on MLK, hosted by myself! 5225 NE MLK! This mike just turned two, and the next one is Sunday, November 13th! Free For All, Fun For Most!
The Grand Cafe is starting a late Sunday mike at 10! Go look for the red-headed kid, Jacob Christopher! He’ll sign you up, and there might be karaoke after your set!
Well, I’m about to be three years old- This May 25th is my third anniversary in stand-up. That’s not much in the world of comedy, but it’s as much as I’ve ever done. It has gotten me many things, such as being recognized at Montage and at Chaos Cafe. I was having a few sincere thoughts about it, and would like to offer you, dear reader, some completely unsolicited advice.
When I was new, I got laughs by accident. I got superstitious about it. The first time I had a good set at an open mike, I never wanted to go back and “ruin” it. A lot of new comics dwell on and overanalyze their first set, their second set, and it doesn’t really matter. They say, I bombed, or I killed, and neither one is true. You’re not good enough to bomb. You got lucky.
The first time a person gets up to do stand-up, it might be interesting, it might be funny, it might be good writing- but it won’t be great stand-up. There are too many microskills that need to be formed. You just have to do it again and again. The good news is that taking a microphone out of a stand 100 times makes you pretty slick at it.
Truly bombing is a gift- if you can survive a room hating you thoroughly, then you know that nothing can be worse than that, and you can get past it.
Where I am now: I can get laughs pretty consistently. It’s still like a magic trick, I don’t know quite how it’s done but I can do it.
Here is some of the best of the many pieces of advice that more skilled comics have given to me:
Don’t disengage between jokes, keep eye contact with the audience.
The longer the setup, the bigger the laugh needs to be at the punch.
Write a hundred jokes on a premise and cut down to what works.
Try to match the crowd’s energy. Don’t scream at a mellow room, or whisper to an excited, party room.
And my advice is: The first mistake every comic makes is: Talking too fast. Slow down.
The second mistake is different for everyone. You’ll figure it out.
One of my favorite people, Eddie Izzard, says that in order to get good at stand-up, you just have to do it a thousand times. I finally put my mike where my mouth was last night at the Boiler Room. Here’s that file:
When I first walked in, I assumed that roughly every third person was there to do a five minute set, but it was clear by midnight that every single person in attendance wanted mike time. Straw fedoras and “wacky” t-shirts abounded. The night was such a sausage party that I sailed into the ladies’ room past three anxiously waiting dudes, which never happens. As new meat, I was bounced 21 times and finally went on at a quarter of midnight. I was pleased that everything got some kind of laugh, and was winding up for my finish when a cute but very inebriated metrosexual (it turned out to be Bobby Hacker) got up and started taking his clothes off, which was okay, but then he started taking my clothes off and putting a flashlight down my shirt. So I took off abruptly, in the midst of the Emcee yelling “You’re gonna get kicked out again, Bobby!” All in all, I am fairly happy with how it went – I got a good reception from the few remaining patrons and comedians.