Comedy shows have become a mainstay of Portland's cultural landscape. Any night of the week, there is something funny happening here. Though not a comprehensive list, we've got a breakdown of some of the best recurring comedy nights in the city.
Boiler Room Open Mic
Boiler Room, 228 NW Davis St., 227-5441. 9 pm every Monday. Free. 21+.
The open mic at Boiler Room is touted as the longest-running open mic in the Pacific Northwest, and like Suki's famous but defunct open mic, it occupies a special place in Portland's comedy history. Also, it once hosted sets performed by then-Blazer Jared Jeffries.
Hit Boiler Room on the right night, and you might see Nathan Brannon slay an empty room. You'll for sure see up-and-comers like Ed Black and Thermals frontman Hutch Harris working out new material.
"A lot of the best comics work out there, but it's also popular with first-timers, so you get to see the full range of comedy skills," says local comedian Seth Johnston. "Plus, host Kevin-Michael Moore plays a trumpet at people if they go over their allotted time too much, which makes me laugh every time."
Helium Open Mic
Helium Comedy Club, 1510 SE 9th Ave., 888-643-8669. 8 pm every Tuesday. Free. 21+.
Every Tuesday night, comedians and comedy fans from Portland and the surrounding area flock to Helium for a free show that displays the best the comedy scene has to offer.
With rotating hosts pulled from the upper echelon of local comedic talent, Helium runs a tight show with the first comics up, those with less experience, getting about three-minute sets, and the more seasoned, well-known comics getting longer sets as the evening progresses. On any given Tuesday, a Helium lineup includes up-and-comers like Dylan Jenkins and Ali Reingold.
Offering two hours of free comedy, with a full bar and kitchen, the Helium Open Mic is the best place to start digging into local comedy.
Velo Cult Bike Shop, 1969 NE 42nd Ave., 922-2012. 9 pm every Wednesday. Free. 21+.
A comedy show in a bike shop that sells craft beer? Surely Portlandia's writing team is ready to pounce. But those imaginary hack comedy writers don't have to, because four of the city's funniest folks created it before they could.
Curtis Cook, Bri Pruett, Alex Falcone and Anthony Lopez have brought many high quality young comedians to Portland, putting up a weekly showcase with outstanding lineups top to bottom.
"We only book two or three other comedians per week," says Falcone, who is also a WW contributor. "Because it's a small number, we can be highly selective. We book only the best comedians in the city and traveling through the country."
Since launching in December 2014, Earthquake Hurricane has hosted sets from Ron Lynch and Geoff Tate, and continues to bring in comedians on the rise from cities across the country, while showcasing the city's best comics every week.
Alberta Street Pub, 1036 NE Alberta St., 284-7665. 9 pm every other Sunday. Free. 21+.
"What makes a block party fun, besides the potato salad?" JoAnn Schinderle asks. "It's hot dogs. That was a weird way to say that we get a lot of 'hot' and 'top dog' comedian bookings and drop-ins."
Entering its second year, Schinderle's showcase hosts both regional and local talent.
"Control Yourself is a free show that brings in the likes of Sara Schaefer, Jared Logan, James Adomian, Emily Maya Mills," Schinderle says. "Sunday nights should no longer be viewed as an evening to 'Netflix and chill.'"
Funhouse Lounge, 2432 SE 11th Ave., 841-6734. Midnight monthly. Free. 21+.
Amy Miller, the first winner of Willamette Week's Funniest Five poll and the current champion of Helium's annual funniest person contest, gathers her compatriots for a crazy midnight show.
"The most unique thing about Midnight Mass is that it starts at midnight, and has a vaguely religious theme," Miller says. "We take confessions from the audience, and have the crowd stand and meet their neighbors at the top of the show. It's also the only show in town that has featured people like Dave Attell, Norm MacDonald, W. Kamau Bell, T.J. Miller and more…all for free!"
It's Gonna Be OK
EastBurn, 1800 E Burnside St., 236-2876. 8 pm every Monday. Free. 21+.
It's Gonna Be OK is former Portland Mercury columnist Barbara Holm's primary showcase, and, as she explains, "has a progressive, feminist slant with lots of super-smart, quirky, nerdy comics."
Running every Monday for free at EastBurn, It's Gonna Be OK regularly showcases locals like Bri Pruett and has hosted traveling comics like Kyle Mizono from San Francisco.
Holm recently launched a second showcase. Every month, she and co-host Chris Khatami put on a show called Quirktastic at Ford Food and Drink, focusing on the quirky side of Portland's comedy scene, and mixing sketch with standup and musical comedy.
The Waypost, 3120 N Williams Ave., 367-3182. 8 pm monthly. $6.66-$10. 21+.
Garbage People builds off the idea of telling true stories, and puts an interesting twist on the standard overshare.
"Garbage People takes the villain of the story, which is usually some terrible boss or neighbor or ex, and puts them onstage like Richard III confessing his mistakes and motivations to the audience," says host Brodie Kelly. "Tell the story where YOU are the bad ex, where YOU fuck up."
Kelly recruits storytellers from open mics both in and out of town, and likes to mix bigger-name local stars with lesser-knowns who might have a story to tell that Portland comedy audiences have never heard before.
Curious Comedy Theater, 5225 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 477-9477. 9:30 pm fourth Friday of the month. $7-$10.
Hosted by Jeremy Eli, Minority Retort is the region's only comedy showcase dedicated to comedians of color.
"Our goal has been to provide a platform for comedians of color to freely speak their mind, as well as reach the diverse audience we believe exists in the so-called 'whitest city in America,'" says organizer Jason Lamb.
Lamb and Eli have showcased a wide range of comics, including locals like Adam Pasi, Venu Mattraw and Freddie Walker, and they've hosted visiting acts like Mona Concepcion and Wilfred Padua.