Andie Main has a lucky tattoo on one arm that reads, "Nevertheless She Persisted." Hours after getting inked in 2017, the Portland comic nabbed her first hosting gig at Helium Comedy Club and a spot at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival. In the coming months, she plans to adorn her other arm with an image of a landing magpie—a symbol from her soon-to-be new home that will also signify she's settled in there.
"If you're scared about making a big jump," she says, "get a tattoo about it."
Main, who's known for fusing comedy with social justice themes, plans to leave the city she was born and raised in later this spring. Portland has lost a number of its rising-star comedians to the bright lights and bigger platforms of New York City and Los Angeles. But Main is packing her bags and heading to…Denver. It might sound like an unusual destination for a performer, but a recent trip firmly convinced her the Mile High City has the most radical, lively standup scene in the country right now.
Before leaving, you can catch Main opening for Denver's Adam Cayton-Holland at the Siren Theater this week. WW sat down with Main to reflect on her evolution as a comic and find out why she's ready to move on.
WW: How have you grown as a comic?
Andie Main: Comedy changed my personality a lot. Before I started doing comedy I had a terrible time talking to people. I was that weird kid in school that couldn't make friends. Comedy changed all of that. I think that after you bomb enough, you realize regular conversations are super-low stakes, and it really empowered me.
You didn't start doing comedy until age 31. Did that make it even more intimidating?
For me, it was best to start older because in my early 20s I was just a drunk, crazy punk-rocker doing drugs. I had to get through that period of my life, and it gave me more interesting stories to tell.
So why Denver?
Denver just happens to have the best comedy scene in the world. I think part of it's because Adam Cayton-Holland and Ben Roy and Andrew Orvedahl—they created a TV show that's on truTV called Those Who Can't—and they've been part of the scene for 15 years. When I visited in November, I got up onstage like 15 times in seven days, and every audience was packed. It was kind of intoxicating. Portland doesn't quite have that going on.
What other differences did you notice about Denver's comedy scene?
There's more creative freedom in Denver. They're a little bit raunchier because the audiences aren't as touchy. I'm worried about offending Portland audiences all the time. So when I went to Denver and I saw the crazy shit they were saying onstage, I was like, "Wow, you can get away with that and people are laughing?"
Are there goals you made that you didn't accomplish in Portland?
I wanted to be in the Willamette Week Funniest Five, and it bummed me out when five years into it my peers just never voted for me. I never made it to the finals of the Helium [Funniest Person] contest, and I think that's because I was offending people who were going to vote for me. Even though I'd get the right half of the room laughing really hard, it's about the commercial viability of my set, which, I admit, is not universal.
Comedy is a lot like dating, and you just have to learn to deal with that rejection. The philosophy I've developed with both of those worlds is that I just don't fuck with people who don't fuck with me. I didn't get all of the things I wanted, and that's fine. There's other prospects out there.
What are you most looking forward to with the move?
A fresh start. Doing comedy in your hometown has this weird baggage to it. When you go to a new town, they haven't seen you fail.
Any parting words for Portland?
Conan O'Brien has this saying: "Be kind and work hard." Just be nice to each other. Be as compassionate as possible. And if a joke doesn't work five times in a row, just fucking drop it, dude.
SEE IT: Andie Main opens for Adam Cayton-Holland at the Siren Theater, 315 NW Davis St., sirentheater.com, on Saturday, March 23. 8 pm. $12 in advance, $15 at the door.