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.
Feet Hurt, Will Laugh: Days 1 and 2 at Bridgetown Comedy Festival
Really, my feet hurt. I have seen so much comedy walking back and forth around for the first two days at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival in Portland that my feet like I’ve been dragged on a nature hike that I didn’t want to go on.
Yet, it has all been worth it.
These first two days here have been not only been amazing, but it has been reaffirming that people, real people, genuinely want to go out to see live comedy, be open minded, and, most importantly, laugh.
After walking from the festival sponsored Hotel 50 to the venues for Bridgetown nestled together on the food truck and vintage record store lined Hawthorne Blvd., I realized I took 2 hours to walk just over 3 miles (with breaks for delicious craft beer and chocolate chip cookies with bacon). At this point, I’m really in the mood for more delicious cheap beer and some fantastic comedy from all around the country.
The first show on my docket was Jimmy Dore’s Pop and Politics at the Mt. Tabor Theatre Main Room. Though the Tabor main room is primarily a venue for many of the indie bands in/passing through Portland, a capacity crowd seemed more than willing to laugh. Interspersing straight stand-up, playing multimedia clips with humorous commentary a la the Daily Show, Jimmy Dore gave Bridgetown a running start right out the gate. The 150+ audience laughed it up the whole way through despite a few minor technical difficulties. Dore also brought up Paul Gilmartin as a republican representative who hilariously tried to reach out to the liberals of Portland with his patriotism and an star studded panel of comedians Kyle Kinane, Auggie Smith, and the festival founder and curator Andy Wood to join in riffing on the news clips. As great as Pop and Politics was to start the festival off, time was running short before the start of the next show I had planned to catch.
NOTE: Between 8 venues, 18 shows had been planned for the first day of Bridgetown.
Despite my left foot kind of being numb, I headed over to the Hawthorne Theatre Main Room for Snob Theater, a show routinely run in San Francisco by comedian Shawn Robbins. With another capacity crowd at hand, perhaps bigger than the one at the Tabor Main room, highlights for this show included a drunken dyslexic audience member fumbling pre-written heckles by and for Robbins, a delightful Emily Heller hysterically defending her feminism, Portland’s own Ron Funches killing it (softly) with his unique timing and delivery that seems like it’s from another reality, but in the most friendly way imaginable, awesome Portland based band Aesthetic Junkies that’s a bouncier, more fun filled version of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, LA’s own Moshe Kasher also killing it, and Brent Weinbach showing a side I’ve never seen before as he played original songs about love with a few hilarious asides about how he looks like one of the characters from Deliverance after he plays a love song with his stoic facial expressions.
Perhaps some of you readers are unaware of this, but I am a stand up comedian as a well and after all of these amazing shows, I was jonesing to get up somewhere. Luckily, the Bridgetown Comedy Festival has it’s own open mic that runs at the Tanker Bar, which is almost an appropriate name for an open mic. Despite a loud, boisterous, drunken crowd, the likes of Ron Lynch, Andy Peters, Hampton Yount, and Eric Andre, some of my favorite comics all performed. Interestingly enough, most of the comics opted to do material despite the circumstances of the crowd’s vastly wavering attention and almost incessant talking. I was mad as I ended up not getting up and my feet hurt in such a way as I ordered a few more tasty IPAs, but my time at the first night of the Tanker evened out after Yount using a plant in the audience to get into a shouting match with fellow comedian Grant Lyon.
Needless to say, I didn’t walk home, but was already feverish in excitement for Day 2 as I could hardly sleep (not the greatest move after several miles of walking).
Taking lessons learned from Day 1, I caught a ride with delightful Seattle comedienne Barbara Holm, who, even as a scheduled performer at Bridgetown, was star struck by some of the other comedians performing at the festival. This sentiment of awe and amazement at this festival for comedy here in Portland, despite comedy being something that I see everywhere, every night, from clubs to bars to garages and apartment living rooms back home in LA, was refreshing to witness.
With energy reserved from not walking, I stopped in at the Hawthorne Lounge, which is a much smaller, more intimate venue, better suited for comedy, than some of these massive theaters. Unfortunately, due to daylight savings time, 7PM still had plenty of daylight shining through the windows, which can be troublesome to deal with, but Jesse Case, Ron Babcock, James Adomian, who all have appeared on Last Comic Standing, dealt with it just fine. Case, in particular, “broke in” the audience after he simply stepped off the stage and went through his brilliant bit comparing Christian rock band to a hypothetical Italian Food rock band and was subsequently met with applause breaks.
Still desperate to get up, I headed back to the Tanker, which had flipped it’s atmosphere almost with an attentive crowd and a reasonable sign-up list. As this was the situation, I felt thankful I could actually do material, which ended up working because, as I’ve mentioned several times, all of these people genuinely here at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival want to have a great time.
Shortly after this, I hopped on over next door to the Tabor Main Room for the always amazing Tony Sam and his show Persona. It’s an all character showcase that has been doing quite well for itself back in LA and had a great showing here up in Portland. James Adomian playing Jesse Ventura was welcomed to the stage with shouts much like that of a headlining rock band taking the spotlight to play their set. Johnny Pemberton, host of MTV’s Megadrive, as a Tea Bagger, Ron Lynch as Mezmerizo, a pseudo-hypnotist, who you might have seen as a scientist in recent Burger King ads, Brett Gelman of Adult Swim’s Eagleheart and Jon Daly, a frequent star of Funny or Die videos, as a couple of “Jersey Shore” types were all uproarious to yet another packed house at the Tabor. Tony Sam hosted the show with a whole slew of his own characters including a “Fun Police Officer” who cited people for “boring”, which really brought the concept of Persona, where everyone plays a characters, to its fullest potential. Though Andy Dick went up last and flubbed his own planned wardrobe malfunction as Daphne Aguilera that ended up in unabashedly flashing the audience, the cutting edge comedy of Persona was great and received quite well at Bridgetown.
It would seem fitting that at the end of this particular evening, after having had such a rollicking, sincerely fun filled time, that I walk all the way back to the Hotel, which I did. Fortunately, I just had to cross a bridge this time instead of walking three miles, but I found, however, where the homeless sleep in Portland (underneath bridges).
I’d like to think that Bridgetown is a once in a lifetime experience, but I’m already looking forward to next year, so I’ll hold off on saying that. Two more days to go here in Portland for Bureau Director Jake Kroeger and it’s only going to get better even though I can’t really imagine how it could and my feet still hurting.
The Bridgetown Comedy Festival kicks off in Portland, Oregon tomorrow, and CNU will have a presence! We’ll be posting coverage from the comedy scene, maybe even snagging some interviews with Reggie Watts, Dana Gould, Todd Glass, Oscar Nunez, Janet Varney, or Natasha Leggero to name a few.
From the official Bridgetown Comedy Festival website:
Celebrating its fifth year in 2012, Bridgetown featured the casts and creators of the hilarious Adult Swim shows “Delocated” and “Eagleheart,” with Jon Glaser hosting a hit variety show in character as his “Delocated” alter-ego, featuring the Corin Tucker Band and Fred Armisen. Matt Besser performed a first-ever live recording of his podcast “improv4humans” to a packed house at Hawthorne Theatre, Doug Benson brought his popular Movie Interruption to Hollywood Theater with a 35mm screening of the Nicolas Cage classic “Con Air,” and Dr. Peter McGraw defended his comedy research with a lively panel discussion of “The Humor Code.”
2013 is looking to be the best year yet for Bridgetown, with tons of new talent alongside audience favorites!
it’s ON, ‘natches. my bridgetown comedy festival escapades started last night and i am already severely sleep deprived. four full days of yukking it up around p-town, not to mention volunteering for the festival, work, rehearsal, and other various projects i need to work on. my life is fucking crazytown, guys.
the sleep deprivation and excessive coffee consumption will continue through the entire weekend until i:
a) no longer find anything or anybody funny
b) consume so much coffee that my heart actually explodes (or i start doing coke like my friend, shannon, suggests)
c) punch and/or sleep with a comedian
i’m thinking it’ll be “a” but i’m hoping more for “c”.
The Bridgetown Tapes: An Interview with Kyle Kinane
While at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival in Portland, Bureau Director Jake Kroeger got to catch a word with some of the most talked about comedians at the festival. Here, Kyle Kinane had just won another year of Nato Green’s comedy take on Iron Chef, “Iron Comic”, in which comedians write new material on the spot and compete against at each other. The following is a transcript of their conversation as Kyle as congratulated by several fans and fellow comedians throughout the interview.
This is Bureau Director Jake Kroeger here at the 2011 Bridgetown Comedy Festival up in Portland Oregon in the Bagdad Theatre with Kyle Kinane who just defended his Iron Comic Title. What are you going to do now Kyle?
Do you not know who you are when you record into your own iPhone?
No, I don’t.
It feels great [winning]. Feels good to keep the crown of the city.
Feels good taking Doug Benson to school at the end there?
Yeah, take that you successful comedian. He still, clearly, had a nice, fun time.
That seemed to be one of your techniques in the Iron Comic competition, calling them out. You called out Hannibal Buress at one point.
I was insulting him because he farted backstage. He was going for a distraction and it worked. I had to make a comment. But, Iron Comic is a fun show to do with comedians that you like. It’s just a fun time, no pressure. I mean, it’s just a little pressure because it’s “write something right now” and that just makes me nervous and fills me with panic because I’m not an improviser, but it’s fun cause you’re with your friends.
That was another thing that I noticed about the Iron Comic competition that no one felt really bad…
(Enter San Francisco comedian Chris Garcia w/guitar who was hilarious throughout Bridgetown with his English language version of La Bamba)
Chris is going to serenade us.
Oh yeah, Chris Garcia is here everybody.
Garcia: Are you guys doing an interview?
Yeah, but I’m running it real loose.
Garcia: Cool. I’m just tuning my guitar.
You were really funny by the way, singing in Spanish there.
(Exit Chris Garcia)
(Back to Kyle) You did Hell Yes Fest in Austin, but you are based in LA, and are now in the Bridgetown Comedy Festival here in Portland. How are you liking Portland?
I’ve been here for every one [of the Bridgetown Festivals]. There goes Nato Green, founder of Iron Comic (Green walks by). It’s great. It’s always a blast I’ve built a following here over the years… following? It’s like four people know who I am here as opposed to the “nobody” in another city.
Those four people clap quite loudly, Kyle.
They’re nice. They’re nice people. It’s a great scene. I mean, you’ve walked around. You see that this is the perfect demographic for this type of comedy.
That was I was curious about because back in LA we get line-ups likes this with you and people like Hannibal Buress every night and it’s over-saturated, then you come here [Portland] and people are ready to willing to laugh.
It’s one of those crowds that where you know you could do the weirdest stuff. They appreciate all this particular type of comedy. It’s booked by Andy Wood who knows this city and knows what type of comedy and festival he wants to put forth and everybody comes here because they love it. Everybody is happy to come this city.
Cause it’s great. It’s a great city. All the venues are close together. All your friends are coming here, so it’s comedy summer camp. All my friends are here. You’re here. Everybody from LA. Nick Rutherford, Moshe Kasher, all these guys, and people do lose their shit with strip clubs and free booze. Because it’s all your friends and you’re all in a collective vacation where you get to do all these awesome shows and then go party with all your friends.
Yes. Day 1 and 2 at Bridgetown was like that first day you get to college like after living at home for so long.
You over do it.
Yeah, you think “Yeah, we’re going to frat row, bro!” then wake up at 3 in the afternoon the next day. What have been some highlights of the festival whether you’ve been performing or people you’ve seen?
I mean, all the shows; I got to do Kurt and Kristen’s, which was great.
Hot Tub was awesome!
(Kyle looks at Maria, one of the festival’s dedicated volunteers) See that? SEE THAT? Interview, guys.
Someone’s being kidnapped during this interview, apparently. Not Kyle.
That’s Maria. She needs to go somewhere. See? I know everybody here.
Yeah, Maria’s being kidnapped to Seattle.
(Kyle laughing) I like how it’s still going…
Commitment. I’m just going to transcribe all of this and a lot of it’s going to be deleted.
Is this getting written?
Yes, it’s getting written.
You’re going to write it out, but you still have to say this is Jake Kroeger of the Comedy Bureau into your own iPhone.
I need some self-affirmation sometimes.
That’s fascinating to me.
I pretty much hate myself most of the time.
You’re the one coordinating it…
(Maria walks over) Maria: I’m part of the festival. This is going to be the part where you write in parentheses (cough)–
(doubled over laughing)
Maria: Yeah, [you’ll write] cough… Maria walks over and hugs Kyle goodbye and hugs you goodbye. I am leaving.
(Maria hugs Kyle and me goodbye)
In parentheses, a bunch of unnecessary shit.
I’m saying good bye to my friends.
Oh yeah, that was the person who kept saying her shuttle was full to me.
Oh, was that her?
Yeah, she was saying her shuttle (Maria drove a shuttle for the festival) was full every time I asked to get a ride somewhere.
Well, I didn’t take the shuttle. I walked all the way here. Had to get the blood flowing.
You walked all the way here from Hotel 50 (the official hotel of Bridgetown 2011)?
Yeah, it’s far.
I did that the first day. The problem was that I kept looking at this map that was out of proportion and thought, “Oh, that isn’t that far,” and I just kept walking.
It’s like 2 and ½ miles…
But, I took my time, stopped at a brewery, drank some beer…
There’s a lot of stuff to see.
Yeah, then accidentally eating a chocolate chip cookie with bacon in it.
Accident? That’s not an accident. Wait, are you a vegetarian?
I’m not a vegetarian. It’s just that….
I thought you were about to say pot or something…
No, no, it was just that there wasn’t a label or anything so it looks like a chocolate chip cookie.
Another reason why this city’s great. They’re creative with their food items.
Yeah, it was disgusting at first, but it got better the more that I ate it. Then somebody else was there, distressed when they found meat in their cookie and I told them, “Keep eating it.”
That’s right, don’t ask questions [about chocolate chip bacon cookies]. This isn’t a city about asking questions. Don’t ask questions, but know that you have to live with your decisions.
Anyways, Hot Tub with Kurt Braunholer and Kristen Schaal was awesome. I was there.
It was awesome.
You were great. Was there anything else that was that great that you happen to catch?
I saw my show and I saw the storytelling show.
“This Is Not Happening”?
Yeah, “This Is Not Happening” that happened here [at the Bagdad Theater].
Who told your favorite story on that show?
I missed Moshe. I saw Brendan McGowan and Mike Burns and saw those guys lose their shit.
Burns did almost have a meltdown, but it was funny.
Yeah, it was just Burns being Burns being great, but I missed Moshe, which everyone said was one of the most amazing shows and I missed it. I’m a little pissed about that. I haven’t seen Nick Rutherford at all this weekend. Pete Holmes, I’ve seen…
Pete Holmes pulled it out. Andy Dick did his thing [go 20 minutes over his time] and I talked to Pete earlier in the day and he was like, “I don’t want to follow Andy Dick. I don’t want to follow Andy Dick.” That was the one thing that he didn’t want to have happen on the show. It happened and he pulled it out.
Of course he did, it’s Pete Holmes.
He crushed all day. I saw him even at breakfast and he was doing crowd work and it was amazing.
It’s Pete. The guy just makes me happy. He is my anti-depressant. It’s just like, “Oh, Pete’s here… everything’s good.”
It’s really amazing. Did you catch Ari Shaffir open up in darkness? (Yes, Ari Shaffir started “This Is Not Happening” in complete darkness)
Yes, like they had just open the theater, like the first day of this theater. It was dark, there was music, the curtains don’t close.
Did you think it was a moment of humanity when these 20 people put their flashlight apps on and lit him [Ari Shaffir] on stage?
It was nice.
I thought it was amazing that they wanted to see comedy so bad that they were going to hold lights so Ari could perform.
Yeah, that’s the kind of place this is. Very nice people.
I wish we had more of that in LA, but I know it’s kind of impossible.
Ahh, it’s in there. It’s just spread out.
That’s the problem Kyle. People think LA is just Hollywood, East LA, and Santa Monica. That’s it.
That’s right. Fuck'em.
I like that people hate it [LA].
Any final thoughts? You just had your Comedy Central special…
Just a lot of road work and a lot of keeping my brains together so I don’t lose my shit being away from home all the time.
You’re great man. I feel privileged talking to you. I remember we were at Public House (a great weekly stand-up showcase in LA) and you were developing that bit about having a specific amount of money and you go through all these images like you needing your teeth worked on and you didn’t remember what a labyrinth was and you asked me.
Thanks, man. I appreciate it. Since that’s happened, it [that bit] has been on John Oliver and I got my teeth fixed.
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.
Before comedian David Crowe started his set, he stated that, while he didn’t know if today’s young comedians would become the funnier than the comedians of the past, today’s comedians start out funnier than past comedians ever have.