After four years, weekly showcase and open mic Control Yourself is coming to an end. JoAnn Schinderle, the show's founder, host and producer, is moving to LA next week. This Sunday's Control Yourself, at its longtime home, Alberta Street Pub, will not only be the showcase's last Portland iteration, it will be Schinderle's last show as a Portland-based comedian.
Schinderle, who won WW's most recent Funniest Five poll, founded Control Yourself less than a year into her standup career. Since then, she's built the show into an incubator for up-and-coming Portland comedians, as well as a vital bridge between the national and local comedy scenes. It's one of the city's longest-running comedy showcases, second only to Barbara Holm's It's Going To Be Okay.
We talked to Schinderle about what's next for Control Yourself and what comedy and Portland will look like without her.
WW: Why did you decided to move?
JoAnn Schinderle: Honestly, we kind of outgrew the space. The idea was put on the table of making it a ticketed show, and that was only because then, the venue could know for sure how many people were in there so they weren't violating any fire codes. I couldn't feel comfortable doing a ticketed show because that wasn't how it started. I was looking at other venues to see if there was a higher capacity that we could get to. And then, in the midst of all that, my living situation changed. I was living with the same roommates for like five years and then one of the gals bought a one-way ticket home. I didn't realize how much [housing] prices had changed. I was looking in LA and I was like, oh my God, prices are comparable in Portland to LA. So I was like, that's alarming. And then I got hooked up with some professional acting classes in LA with this gal who's well known. So it was kind of like all these universal messages just like, well, maybe now is a good point to move on to newer things
Do you have plans for an LA version of Control Yourself?
That was kind of the mindset of it. In the comedy world, when you build something and then you go away, you have two options: You can hand over the show to someone, or you could kill it. Because the show is a podcast, it's kind of travel-worthy, and because the show has been included in comedy festivals, I still want to workshop that. So I made the decision to take the show to take with me and to be able to start it up wherever I land. There's been so many out-of-town comics that have done the show throughout the years that it's a trusted gig. So if I was to take a break and start it back up again, I guarantee people from all over will be excited to perform on it. So that's a cool thing.
It's outgrown itself in terms of venue size, but it's also outgrown itself in the sense that it's more than just a Portland show. There are so many LA comedians that will stop by your show if they're doing a ticketed gig in Portland.
It's super-validating that people are seeking it out. Even when comics go to Seattle, they'll contact me and be like, "Hey, is it cool if I drop down to your show?" It definitely has a name for itself nationally.
Is there anything that you'll miss about Portland's comedy scene?
Oh, hell yeah. It's like a genuine camaraderie that this town has. Comedy on the national level is a very small group of people. But specifically in Portland, we're good. We're good comics and we're hard-working comics and everyone is super supportive of each other. If there's a new show, people will go check it out. So I'm really going to miss like the genuine friendships that form out of this kind of sludgery of a career we've all chosen.
Anything you won't miss?
I don't know. I guess I won't miss getting blackout drunk all the time. Beers in LA are very expensive I hear.
What's Portland comedy going to be like without Control Yourself?
What I strived to do with the show was to make it as professional as possible. The show kind of fell into my lap. I utilized my event-planning skills and my love of comedy to kind of create a good business relationship between the pub and the comics. I really set the bar for caliber. If I'm going to be handing a comic a paycheck, I expect them to show up on time and to perform their set. And in turn, it's like, here's an opportunity for you to get your set recorded in front of a great audience and that's good for submission tapes, and here's an opportunity for you to be on a podcast that can be listened to around the world. So I really tried to set the bar for putting Portland comedy—not on the map because it was already on the map—but to continue the access for people to be able to listen to it. I don't know if there's another opportunity in town that's doing that kind of stuff. But hopefully someone steps up and creates something as well.
Do you know if anyone is going to take over the Sunday slot at Alberta?
Nah. I'm not handing it over to anybody. I can't explain it—that place has been packed every night for the last four years. I built that place from the ground up. To hand over that time slot is interesting to me because, like, you're stepping into a full room, you've got to sustain it. The pub and I are still in conversation about what's going to happen, but I'm definitely going to set up the formula for success for something else. My idea is to create an opportunity for comics to get more stage time. Sometimes, people's very first time doing comedy is on that stage for the open mic, and I don't want that opportunity to go away. So I want the open mic to be longer. In the world of standup comedy, open mic standup sets are like three minutes. But it's hard to get your chops when you're only doing three-minute sets around town and there's nobody in the audience. So I want to take that room that's already built in and give new people a shot for longer sets. I want the scene to be able to grow and get better as supposed to getting complacent again. So instead of replacing Control Yourself with another show, I want to replace it with another opportunity for newer comics to thrive.
SEE IT: The Farewell Control Yourself is at Alberta Street Pub, 1036 NE Alberta Ave., albertastreetpub.com. 7 pm and 9:30 pm Sunday, March 25. $12.