Portland's comedy scene is much like any other. We have our showcases, our open mics, our comedy clubs, our petty infighting, our alcoholism, our quarter-annual Facebook arguments about intersectional diversity, etc.
But unlike anywhere else, we have the Bridgetown Comedy Festival. And this coming Wednesday, Bridgetown will be returning to Portland for the 9th year in a row.
If you're not already familiar with the festival, the great thing about Bridgetown is that it's promoted, booked, and organized by a collection of dope, behind-the-scenes comedy masterminds who bring some of the fastest rising and most recognized names in comedy to Portland for a weeks worth of sensational shows. It's a great opportunity to check out nationally touring acts and themed showcases that aren't always available to Portland audiences.
For example, maybe you're looking for a comedy show that promotes Black talent while reflecting the vast diversity of Black thought throughout the country. Well, you're in luck, because Baron Vaughn (Grace & Frankie, Conan, Black Dynamite) is here for you.
Based on a term popularized during the Harlem Renaissance, New Negroes returns to Bridgetown this year to showcase some of the emerging Black voices in alternative comedy including Tone Bell, Mia Jackson, Yusef Roach, Janelle James, Quincy Jones, Derek Gaines, and Portland's Nathan Brannon among others.
(Also, it's important to note that people of all races—including white people—are both welcome and encouraged to attend this show. I know that for most POC that goes without saying, but a lot of white folks get uncomfortable when they're not explicitly invited to an event dominated by Black artists. Rest assured, white people: You can totally come to New Negroes even though it's still up in the air what you're supposed to call the show out loud.)
Perhaps you take issue with the various ways in which organized religion is often used to propagate bigotry through archaic stipulations and ludicrous allegory. Maybe you go to comedy shows and think, "How about a little less Jehovah and a little more Jehovahahaha."
If that's the case, you should check out Portland's own Dan Weber as he records a live episode of his popular podcast, Reading the Bible With Dan.
There's also a good chance you're probably tired of sexism in comedy.
(Realistically, actually, you're probably tired of sexism in every facet of your life, but my editor says I shouldn't go over 2,000 words per column and should stick to the theme of comedy for now).
Bridgetown is all about gender diversity, and this year's lineup is complete with killer female performers like Aimee Mann, Morgan Murphy, Sara Schaefer, Aparna Nancherla, JoAnn Schinderle, Caitlin Weierhauser, Dulce Sloan, Clare O'Kane and many more. The festival's schedule is also full of female driven comedy vehicles like Whitney Streed's Rants Off/Dance Off, Amy Miller's Midnight Mass, and Turnt Up with Eliza Skinner.
If you long for LGBTQ+ voices in comedy, then Guy Branum (Chelsea Lately, Billy on the Street, The Mindy Project) hosts an incredible show titled Gay Bash, which showcases LGBT festival performers including Sam Jay, Rhea Butcher, Nick Sahoyah, and Rebecca O'Neal.
Maybe you're looking for a little bit of everything. Maybe you want a smorgasbord of dope jokes. Maybe you want a little New Negro with your LGBTQ+ and a side of godless heathenry with your entrée of feminist empowerment. Maybe you often find yourself thinking things like, "Geez, I sure wish I could watch a diverse lineup of amazing comics from all over the country including Megan Gailey (MTV), Kate Willlett (Fusion TV), David Gborie (VICE), Solomon Georgio (Conan), and Greg Behrendt (Comedy Central, HBO, That Guy from That Thing) as well as local favorites Alex Falcone (Portlandia), Bri Pruett (Riot LA), Anthony Lopez (Gotham Awards), and Curtis Cook (Nepotistic Jerk)."
Well you're in luck, because Earthquake Hurricane will be helping to kick off the festival with a show at the Bossanova Ballroom on Wednesday, June 1st at 8pm. The aforementioned lineup is extraordinary, and we hope to see you there.
If we don't see you there, though, hopefully we'll see you at any of the other amazing shows happening this Wednesday through Sunday; because the names and events listed above are just the beginning. I didn't even mention the triumphant return of Shane Torres and Sean Jordan or performances from Lance Bangs and The Thermals or the Yo, Is This Racist? podcast recording or how Steven Wilber probably plans on being weird somewhere or that Adam Pasi and Nariko Ott might start drinking again or how Rachel Bloom, Eddie Pepitone, Oscar Nunez, Matt Braunger, Andy Wood, and Moshe Kasher will all be on shows throughout the week. And that's still just the beginning.
There's something for everyone at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival. So count your lucky stars, buy yourself a festival pass, and prepare to bask in the radiant glow of world-class comedy. Also, keep a trashcan and a cold compress by your bed and stock up on ibuprofen and Bloody Mary mix, 'cause you're in for one hell of a weekend.