Have you heard the one about the beards?
In the seven years since it was established, the Bridgetown Comedy Festival has swelled into one of Portland's best annual events. It's a boozy four-day marathon that takes over a dense stretch of Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard and several eastside venues, with showcases stacked with comedic brilliance. Top bets for this year's festival, which runs May 8-11, include Emo Philips, Reggie Watts, W. Kamau Bell, Aparna Nancherla, Hari Kondabolu, Janine Brito, Sean Cullen and Matt Kirshen. (Visit wweek.com/bridgetown for a curated schedule with our picks, or go here for Bridegetown picks chosen by Portland's Funniest Five chosen in last year's local comic poll.)
This weekend nearly 200 performers descend on Portland. Many of these comics have never performed here. And many of them will make the same mistake, trying to endear themselves to local audiences by riffing cutely about bikes. Maybe about bacon. Or about beer. Or about brunch or birds or beards. Some may even crack jokes about white people.
These lines draw laughs at the first few shows of the weekend, but by the third hour, we're weary. By the fifth, we're ready to throw free-range eggs and organic tomatoes.
In an effort to curb these hacky Portland gags, we asked some of our favorite performers to submit jokes that should be banned at Bridgetown. Comedians, consider this your warning.
"I went to Voodoo Doughnut today and had a maple bar with bacon on top, which is kind of like putting heart disease on top of diabetes." —Scott Losse
"Portland is so white it makes Salt Lake City look like Atlanta." —Shane Torres
"Portland is really good at recycling. We took all these houses that people of color were living in and turned them into boutique ice cream parlors!" —Bri Pruett
"Portland is where white people move to get robbed by other white people." —Gabe Dinger
"Those aren't meth addicts, those are vegans. Which can look the same as a methhead. Same slow, shambling gait; malnourished; protein-deficient; semi-stoned on gluten-free muffins. Just give them a handful of organic popcorn, say 'Namaste' and move along." —Dwight Slade
"Why do you have such a big bookstore? You guys have heard of movies, right?" —Sean Jordan
"This entire town is dependent on a brunch-based economy." —Shane Torres
"It rains all the time in Portland. Good! The sun can't be trusted. The sun brings chores, picnics, hiking, unnerving pale skin, graduations. All things that create anxiety. Rain brings depression, for which there are prescription medications. There are no pills for sun." —Dwight Slade
"Portland is so weird I saw a guy with a sign by Burnside that said 'I need a kidney donor.' Oh come on, I'm not going to give you a kidney. You're just going to use it for drugs." —Alex Falcone
"Portland has too many strip clubs. As my friend Dax says, it is causing a deficit in stripper names. There are nearly 30 Cinnamons listed in the Portland Stripper Directory." —Dwight Slade
"Portland is so liberal, their strip clubs are inside abortion clinics." —Molly Fite
"You people still like folk music here? There are so many wannabe folk musicians in this town it looks like a steamboat ran aground on Mississippi Avenue." —Nariko Ott
"Living in Portland is like living in Never-Never Land. There are pirates, lost boys and tons of girls that dress like Rufio." —Gabe Dinger
"People find out I'm from Portland and they say, 'Portland? Is it really like that Portlandia?' Yes, it is mediocre." —Alex Falcone
"You guys do know that if you ride your bike to a bar and get shitfaced it cancels out the bike ride, right? Especially when a doughnut is the healthiest thing you've had all day." —Sean Jordan
"There are so many cyclists in this city, it seems like everyone on the Tour de France had to grow a shitty beard and wear a flannel shirt." —Shane Torres
"There are so many beards in Portland, it's become Tom Cruise's personal dating pool." —Molly Fite
"I feel like there are only two kinds of people in Portland: weird people and weird people with beards." —Sean Jordan
"You think everyone has a beard? Not everyone. Go to Gresham. You will see three or four women who are clean-shaven." —Dwight Slade
"Can you believe that's former Portland Mayor Bud Clark exposing himself to a statue on that 'Expose Yourself to Art' poster? This is the same guy who offered to get a suntan to better understand local black leaders. Hey Bud, how about exposing yourself to some racial sensitivity training?" —Matt Braunger
"I like being here because I feel more attractive. I'm not saying I'm hot; I'm like a 6 in Portland. Maybe a 6.5. Or a 9 in Vancouver." —Alex Falcone
"There are so many hipsters in Portland, they had to build a reservoir just for PBR." —Molly Fite
"Men with real jobs are hard to find in Portland. I was seeing a great guy who worked at a bank, but I broke up with him because he couldn't take off work to go huckleberry picking with me. Now I'm with a magician. Who can juggle huckleberries. Life is good." —Kristine Levine
"I would be super happy to participate but I think comedy is an art form, and everyone's perspectives and opinions in our community are equally valuable and should not be criticized. Except for straight white men." —Amy Miller
"Really, at this point I am sick of hearing anything about Portland. It is the most frequent topic of conversation in this city." —Christian Ricketts
"So I'm white, but, like, I just totally hate white privilege. White privilege totally sucks, am I right, folks?" [White comedian holds for applause. Predominantly white audience claps enthusiastically with all the vigor a sea of self-righteous quasi-liberals has to offer. The approximately six to 12 people of color in the audience look around at each other and shrug, having lost that much more faith in humanity. After the show, both the white comedian and the white audience members return to their homes in gentrified areas, thus, despite their "beliefs," continuing to perpetuate the oppressive system they just publicly ridiculed. Note that both the white comedian and the white audience members have Tibetan flags and Christmas lights decorating everything they own. Both the white comedian and the white audience members go to bed, wake up in the morning, put on skinny jeans, a V-neck T-shirt, a pair of Converse shoes and a skull cap that cost $20 more than it should have, before biking to a trendy coffee shop in what probably used to be a local black business and/or heading to brunch at an ethnic restaurant entirely run by white people (save for the one dude in the back doing dishes).] —Curtis Cook