At the beginning of May, 22 of your friends and neighbors entered the Portland Amateur Comedy Contest. Now, after a grueling month of constant stand-up shows at bars in and around Portland, five comedians remain. After one more week of battle—and 26 total shows—a lone champion will limp away with the $500 grand prize and bragging rights. Watch the funniest new blood in Portland flow as these comics try to survive “Chortle Kombat.”
THE CONTENDERS (left to right): Ian Karmel, Cody Smith, Anthony Lopez, Tim Hammer, Sean Jordan. ILLUSTRATION: kcarterart.com
IAN KARMEL Height: 6’3”
Fighting style: New York Jew suburb-fu
Sensei: Larry David
Signature joke: “ You’re at a bus stop and it’s late. A figure is coming toward you. They get a little bit closer, and you can tell it’s a black guy. They get a bit closer, and you see they’re wearing a Boy Scout uniform. They get a little bit closer, and you see they’ve been shot. They get a little bit closer, and you can see they’re retarded. If you don’t have a mustache, you can do whatever you want, but hopefully you’ll call an ambulance. If you do have a mustache, you’re probably the cop who shot him in the first place.”
Finishing move: Fold the act in on itself like a missile launched from left field.
Nemesis: The readily available supply of marijuana
Fighting style: Biting reality
Sensei: Eddie Izzard
Signature joke: “When I get dumped, girls always say, ‘Awesome.’ Like, ‘You’re an awesome guy.’ I think that they don’t understand what awesome means. If you go to a restaurant and order a steak, you don’t say, ‘This steak is awesome, I’d like to send it back. If you could just bring me out a steak that wears a backwards hat and beats me that would be much better.’”
Finishing move: The Hugo Timebomb
Nemesis: Hair and confidence
Fighting style: Absurd
Sensei: Louis C.K.
Signature joke: “Don’t you hate when you’re out and you see Stephen King? You say, ‘Hey Stephen King, I’m a huge fan of your work,’ but it turns out to just be some old woman.”
Finishing move: The people’s elbow
Nemesis: Director Joel Schumacher
Has been funny for: Seven months
Fighting style: Deadpan one-liners
Sensei: Steven Wright
Signature joke: “ I got an MC Hammer touch lamp for Christmas, and I can’t turn it on. It will be working next week, though, at a small casino in Washington County.”
Nemesis: Kyle Harbert
Homeland: Sioux Falls, S.D.
Has been funny for: Four years
Fighting style: Likable sarcasm
Sensei: Doug Benson
Signature joke: “I don’t wear my seatbelt when I drive because I think it shows a lack of confidence to the passenger in the car.”
Finishing move: Road House throat rip
The Portland Amateur Comedy Competition’s final five have been chosen, but there’s a few more funny competitors worth keeping an eye on:
Homeland: Telluride, Colo.
Has been funny for: One year
Fighting style: Cats
Sensei: Brent Wienbach
Signature joke: “ A dog and a cat walk into a bar. Luckily, the cat survived.”
Finishing move: More cats
Homeland: Portland (or Caldwell, Idaho)
Fighting style: Mo Duk Pai
Sensei: Eugene Mirman
Has been funny for: Three years
Signature joke: “I was walking down the street the other day when I came upon a child. I quickly wiped him off and apologized.”
Finishing move: “I take off my shirt and cry.”
Nemesis: Comedy-writing guru Gene Perret
Homeland: Military brat; went to high school in Escondido, Calif.
Fighting style: Characters and absurdist pop culture
Sensei: Zach Galifianakis
Signature joke: “I’ve never heard of a carrot.”
Finishing move: “As John Cotton Dolton, a polite rancher, I say, ‘Good night,’ let the host walk up, then make a big deal of fitting in a sign-off, only to say, “I’ll catch you on the flipside, check you later!’”
Nemesis: Philip Schallberger
GO: Final rounds of the Portland Amateur Comedy Contest take place at the Cedarville Inn, 3659 W Powell Loop, Gresham, 665-8565. 9:30 pm Wednesday, May 26. Mount Tabor Theater, 4811 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 360-1450. 9 pm Thursday, May 27. Big Apple Pizza, 1125 NE Kane Drive, Gresham, 665-2401. 8 pm Sunday, May 30. Hangout Bar & Grill, 576 NE Burnside Road, Gresham, 667-7936. 9 pm Friday, June 4. The finale takes place at the Wichita Bar & Grill, 19140 S Molalla Ave., Oregon City, 557-0277. 8 pm Saturday, June 5. All shows are free. Search “Portland Amateur Comedy Contest” on Facebook for info.
WEDNESDAY MAY 26
[MUSIC] BOBBY BARE JR.
Feel like getting drunk on a Wednesday? There are few better ways to end your night than with Bobby Bare Jr., one of the most underrated—and funniest—singer-songwriters around. Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi Ave., 288-3895. 9 pm. $12. 21+.
THURSDAY MAY 27
[VIS ARTS] CUT-UPS
In his art show Cut-ups, director Gus Van Sant scans and digitally slices ’n’ dices Polaroids. PDX Contemporary Art, 925 NW Flanders St., 222-0063. Closes May 29.
FRIDAY MAY 28
[FESTIVAL] ROSE FESTIVAL WATERFRONT VILLAGE
Carnies! Fried Twinkies! Fireworks! The Rose Festival’s waterfront extravaganza starts off with a bang. Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Southwest Naito Parkway between Harrison and Glisan streets. Opens 5 pm Friday, May 28. Open 11 am-close Wednesdays-Sundays, May 29-June 13, and Monday, May 31. Free admission all day Friday, May 28, and before 4 pm Wednesdays-Fridays. Regular admission $5 age 7 and up. Info at rosefestival.org.
SATURDAY MAY 29
[SCREEN] THE THORN IN THE HEART
Michel Gondry arrives in Portland to answer questions about his aunt. Hollywood Theatre, 4122 NE Sandy Blvd., 493-1128. Michel Gondry will attend shows at 7:30 and 9:45 pm.
[MUSIC] LCD SOUNDSYSTEM
Sure, James Murphy is probably a prick. But have you heard “All My Friends?” Plan on dancing to that jam at every wedding you attend in the next 10 years. Roseland, 8 NW 6th Ave., 224-2038. 9 pm. $32.50 advance, $35 day of show. All ages.
MONDAY MAY 31
[DRINK] WILLAMETTE VALLEY WINE WEEKEND
Spend the long weekend reenacting the fun parts of Sideways as Oregon’s winemakers throw open their doors. All day Saturday-Monday, May 29-31. Find a full list of participating wineries and details at willamettewines.com/memorialday.shtml. Price varies by winery.
TUESDAY JUNE 1
[MUSIC] THE BUZZCOCKS
Of all the ’70s Brit-punk idols, the Buzzcocks are the most relevant today. Songs about politics fade away, but songs about orgasms? Priceless. Berbati’s Pan, 231 SW Ankeny St., 248-4579. 8 pm. $16.50 advance, $20 day of show. 21+.