In Portland, comedy never sleeps.
At practically all hours of the day, you'll find people are working hard for a laugh. Want to nurse your hangover at noon on a Saturday with $3 mimosas and some standup? There's a dive bar and an A-list lineup of local talent ready to accommodate. In the mood to watch top comics trying out their freshest material into the early-morning hours? There's almost certainly an open mic going on near you.
And if there isn't, there's probably somebody telling jokes at a basement party down the street. Or in someone's backyard. Or on a street corner. Maybe even at a sex club.
It's a far cry from the days when there was only one major comedy club, in Old Town. Heck, it's a far different scene from when we started our annual Funniest Five poll six years ago. Back then, comics had to fight for stage time, and for the attention of the culture at large. Now, comedy is as much a part of the pulse of this city as beer, bikes and weed.
That also means the bar has been raised.
In our annual survey of more than 100 comedians, club owners, show producers, podcasters and other comedy fanatics, one thing is clear: What the community craves today is variety. The honorees on our list of Portland's best new comics all exhibit wildly different styles of humor—whether that's tackling taboos head-on or skipping the script to incorporate the audience into the act—which is undoubtedly shaped by their diverse backstories.
Like Shain Brenden, whose first set was delivered in a war zone on Christmas Day. Or Corina Lucas, who jokes about her lived experiences as a transgender woman. Jake Silberman discovered his knack for comedy while backpacking through Latin America, while Mohanad Elshieky honed his skills hosting a radio show in Benghazi, Libya—just before the station got burned down.
As Brenden put it, "Portland is a place that has any kind of comedy you might happen to be looking for."
You'll find five excellent examples here. But don't stop there. Our hope is this issue will inspire you to explore Portland's diverse comedy scene and discover something, or someone, that really makes you laugh. It shouldn't be hard to find.
GO: Portland's Funniest Five Standup Showcase is at Revolution Hall, 1300 SE Stark St., revolutionhall.com, on Wednesday, Nov. 28. 7 pm. $15. 21+.