Picture the prototypical Portland comedian.
You know the guy. He's a white dude with a well-manicured mustache wearing red Nikes and fancy patterned socks. He's laid-back, possibly stoned. His jokes mainly center on breeding chickens, masturbation and anilingus.
Rice, who was voted Portland's funniest person this year by more than 100 comedy insiders in our third annual Funniest Five poll, is a 64-year-old woman who's been working at a call center for the last 17 years. Her first open mic was in 1983, when she went onstage at the Leaky Roof in Goose Hollow.
In some ways, Rice is an unlikely winner of this year's poll. But once you see her onstage, you'll understand why she won. Rice is a career comic who doesn't let you out of the room until your stomach hurts and you're choking with laughter. In a scene with a short memory—people tend to talk about Portland standup comedy as if it started when Ian Karmel and Ron Funches stepped up to the open mic at Suki's in 2006—Rice is finally getting her due. It is, we think, a testament to how the scene is growing and maturing as a generation of comedians working to hone their craft discover the old guard—people like Rice, the matriarch of Portland comedy, who they probably didn't know the first time they hopped onstage for an open mic.
But if you came here for an adorable white guy in his 30s, we've got that, too—heyyyy, Gabe Dinger! Want one of those jokes about tonguing another person's asshole? Go here. We've also got a guy who presents PowerPoint slides in the guise of a character named Hobo Tom and—this is a little awkward, sorry—a movie critic for this very paper. If you want to see next year's list before those comedians blow up, start hitting some of the best comedy nights in Portland now.
You won't see Rice, though—most of her local gigs are at Harvey's Comedy Club, the Old Town spot that famously bans comics who work blue. Your best bet for seeing her is at our showcase at the Alberta Abbey on Nov. 30.
GO: Willamette Week's third annual Funniest Five Showcase is at Alberta Abbey, 126 NE Alberta St., on Monday, Nov. 30. 7 pm. $5. For tickets, visit bit.ly/wwfunniestfive.