When Sean Jordan moved to Portland in 2009, he quickly established himself as a mainstay in an emerging local standup scene. In 2014, he took the top spot in WW's Funniest Five rankings. Then, like many talented comics who honed their craft in Portland, he left. Now he'll be back Aug. 30 to record his first album, at Mississippi Studios.
"It kinda means a lot because that's where Matt Braunger and Ian Karmel recorded theirs," Jordan says, "and I opened for both of them when they were recording there. It's just a fun feeling when you get to do the same thing and people are there to see you."
Like most comics who migrate to Los Angeles, Jordan took his act there in 2016 for greater opportunities. But he didn't necessarily have his sights set on writing or acting gigs.
"I knew I wanted to continue to do standup, but people aren't necessarily looking for that when you take meetings," he says. "They want you to be able to write or they want you to have an idea for a show. I'm not a good actor. I've never wanted to act. I would—to develop a fan base. It wasn't discouraging—but it was different than I thought it was gonna be, for sure, and it was a very harsh reality check. And if Ian didn't live there, I wouldn't have been able to do it."
Like his friend Jordan, Karmel is a Portland-to-Los Angeles transplanted comedian. He also created the podcast All Fantasy Everything, which Jordan frequently co-hosts. Its premise should be familiar to anyone who plays fantasy football, but instead of trying to draft the most productive players in a specific sport, the hosts draft celebrities and abstract concepts that fit a specific prompt. In the recent episode "People Who Look Like Their Names," for example, Jordan selected actor of screen and "diabeetus" commercials Wilford Brimley in the first round.
"It opens up fun, silly debates," Jordan says. "It's fun to have something to listen to that doesn't matter at all."
The podcast has a five-star customer rating on iTunes and amassed a devoted following, with its own subreddit where fans track results and offer ideas.
"Honestly, a lot of people who have come to see me do standup lately didn't know I did standup before," Jordan says. "They found out through the podcast that I was also a comedian."
That won't be the case at Mississippi Studios, where both of Jordan's shows have been sold out for weeks. He's still extremely popular in Portland, the place where he spent his formative standup years.
Given the enthusiastic turnout expected for the recording sessions and the way he sometimes seems wistful when talking about the city, fans might wonder when he visited Portland last. "I was actually in Portland last weekend," he says. "I officiated a wedding. It was dope!"
Turns out, he's a regular visitor.
"And I try to do standup every time I'm there," he adds, "but I don't advertise it, just because when I do have a show I want people to show up to, that's the one I want to advertise. So, yeah, I'm back at least once a month. I love it there. It's the best."
SEE IT: The Sean Jordan live album recording, with special guests Ian Karmel and Shane Torres, is at Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi Ave., mississippistudios.com, on Thursday, Aug. 30. 7 and 9:30 pm. Sold out.