bridgetown comedy festival

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Ian Karmel.

Portland ex-pat, stand-up comedian, and writer for Chelsea Lately. We had a chance to get goofy at the studio a couple weeks ago while Ian was back in town to perform at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival. Here are two of my favorites from our first shot of the day. Styled by the always fabulous Kristin Lane.

Bridgetown Comedy Festival 2013 highlights

By CNU editor Talon Bigelow and Beth Moesche

It’s been called “summercamp for comedians” and it’s obvious why when you step outside and find yourself feet away from a circle of comics all swapping stories and having a laugh. Some audience favorites, some the next generation of funny. Some showing up late to the bunch with coffee in hand (stars: they’re just like us!). 

As someone experiencing Bridgetown Comedy Festival for the first time, I can say definitely that it won’t be my last. For 4 days the city of Portland gives itself to comedy. And the talent is just as diverse as the audience! 

The festival does a great job of bringing you names you know and names you should/will know. 

Here are the highlights of what I experienced:

  • Todd Glass ripping into a stubbornly unsupportive audience member after unsuccessfully attempting to have him play long with a bit. One of those things you always hear about but never get to see.It was strangely delightful and the whole crowd was on his side. In fact, he mentioned it in the forward to today’s Todd Glass Show #100: “I went off on them. Not yelling or cursing, but definitely breaking it down to "Why do you do that?” I think the reason I do it there, it’s a compliment to those audiences, sometimes when your at, like, places like the best of the best of a comedy club (…) in this case Portland, the audiences are just wonderful, so when… I feel like when a person just comes in there, and it’s not even that bad what they did, I mean I picture them in the car on the way home going “God!” and you’re sorta right. (…) to the person who yells or thinks they have something to say and they yell it out, you don’t realize that you were surrounded by the best of the best of audiences, so therefore when you yell something out, it’s a little bit of a shock.(…) it’s a little jarring because those crowds are so good. So thank you, Portland, is what I’m really trying to say.“
  • A VERY informative chat with a few of the geniuses that made the gears of The Simpsons turn. (a full report on that still to come).
  • Nato Green and co-host Moshe Kasher brought Iron Comic to Portland! Comedians Dana Gould, Baron Vaughn, Blaine Capatch, and Guy Branum all tried their bests in the battles of middle-school boys, Garfield’s Lasagna, and Hulk Hogan, but in the end they all fell to the wit of self-proclaimed Hulk-a-manic-depressive, Emily Heller. She crafted such fully fleshed, whimsical and melancholic Wes Anderson-esque stories, you wouldn’t believe she only spent 8 minutes writing them. HONORABLE JOKE MENTION: "Hulk Hogan is what would happen if Florida were a person” - Guy Branum.
  • The mixed media comedy show “Picture This!” dropped by! An interesting mix of stand-up with live animation. It felt experimental, not every set is going to jive well, but when it really worked it was absolutely joyous. Comedian Jermaine Fowler and his animator created a hilarious visual/audio experience. Jermaine couldn’t help but laugh at his own jokes being visually represented and it was a blast to watch.

It’s a wide festival, so Beth Moesche (mzlizlemon) assisted my coverage. Here is what she had to say!

BETH: I saw the Theme Park Improv show Saturday night and in addition to all of its wonderful players: Oscar Nunez, Janet Varney, Michael Hitchcock, Ian Brennan and Cole Stratton they had the pint sized and hilarious Natasha Leggero telling stories that the audience would get the delight of seeing the players eventually unfold for us. She took a suggestion from the audience and a man yelled, “Kim Kardashian!” from that Leggero said, “Well, they remind me of a family of whores, so, once I was in Thailand…” (Note: Not verbatim) Leggero went on to describe the quite odd trip she took to Thailand to do a comedy show that was horrible and took a moment to illustrate the unreal families that are present and that do in fact work together in the red light district. From there the players poked fun at kids in a strip club, and had a full blown musical entitled, “Cock, Balls, Taint.” Which, I know you’re like, “Gross.” But it was one of the best musicals I have ever seen.

Improv whether it be performing or watching, is quite a rush and so thrilling. Again, whether you are performing or an observer, you all know the story and have to be accepting of what your partner or the performer on stage is presenting you i.e. Kim Kardashian or singing along about balls. It was such a pleasure to watch true professionals and lovers of comedy create stories from thin air about the craziest suggestions and you could tell the whole room was more than excited to experience all the rides they went on.

The last show I saw was directly following Theme Park, it was Holy Fuck featuring the talents of: Dana Gould, Greg Behrendt, Laura Kightlinger, Cameron Esposito, Bryan Cook, Dave Ross, Jake Weisman and Allen Strickland-Williams. The show opened with some of the members of Holy Fuck’s viral videos and sketches, some that were featured on Funny or Die. It was a nice warm up and introductory to get the crowd going and after that the stand-up began and every single person brought it. When you go to a stand up show there are usually your very strong people and others that are good but look light because of who they followed. This show was insane, it just got funnier, deeper, louder, and more creative as the night and acts went on. I will say the performers that brought a tear to my eye from laughing so hard were: Dana Gould and Greg Behrendt. If you have never seen Dana Gould perform stand-up, you have to! He was so aware of his crowd and his set was astounding, he made it look extraordinarily easy and was so electric to watch. Behrendt, closed this show (of enormous talent) with a story of how he quit comedy for awhile, and it was the most tragic and hilarious story but he showcased it in such a way that only he could do, while showing off why he is a stand up comedian again, and now.

I have to say I didn’t know two shows could inspire me so much, but they did. These are the people I admire, they are smart and have no fear. These two shows were the epitome of why I love comedy so much. Bridgetown was a smash from where I was sitting and I had some pretty good seats.

So there you go. It was a thrill and that only covers probably 1/3  of the whole festival! The comedy scene in Portland is receiving high praise, so, you better check it out before it goes too mainstream or whatever.

Thanks for having us, Bridgetown! Hope to see you again next time.

Talon Bigelow is a CNU admin

Beth Moesche is a Portland based comedian