Am I Right, Ladies?
Another week, another rape joke, another Twitter firestorm. This monthly showcase, produced by Jen Tam, positions itself as a counterbalance to the misogyny and sexism in the world of standup. Tam co-hosts with Barbara Holm, with comedians from across the spectrums of gender, sexuality and race. Recent performers have included Caitlin Weierhauser, Stephanie Purtle and Christian Ricketts. Ford Food and Drink, 2505 SE 11th Ave. 7:30 pm every second Saturday, except December's show, which will be held Dec. 6. "Pay what you can."
Portland comics are generally loving and supportive. The churlishly avuncular Anatoli Brant brings some heat to the scene with this competitive show, which requires standups to respond to surprise topics and improv challenges. The funnier they are, the longer they remain onstage. Brant recently expanded the show to Helium Comedy Club: Every three months, the six strongest comedians duke it out. Brody Theater, 16 NW Broadway. 9:30 pm every second Friday. $8.
Host and Midwest transplant JoAnn Schinderle has an engaging, dry style, which she brings to this twice-monthly showcase. Recent performers have included Amy Miller, Curtis Cook and Alex Falcone. Alberta Street Pub, 1036 NE Alberta St. 9 pm every first and third Sunday. Free.
Hell or Highwater
Curtis Cook, our No. 2 comic, hosts this monthly showcase, which features a reliably solid slate of locals and comics from farther afield. Most recently, that was Chicagoan Sean White, who tackles tragedy with unexpected irreverence (he's called grandparents, for example, the "training wheels of death"). The High Water Mark, 6800 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. 9 pm every last Monday. Free.
Funny Humans vs. the Wheel
If you go to enough shows around town, you start to memorize comedians' sets. Think of this weekly show, hosted by silly duo Adam Pasi and David Mascorro, as an antidote to all that repetition: Comedians start with a planned set, but halfway through, they have to spin a wheel to determine what comes next—crowd work, one-liners, maybe even a heckle battle. Bar of the Gods, 4801 SE Hawthorne Blvd. 9 pm every Sunday. Free.
His producing partner, Shane Torres, decamped for New York City earlier this year, but Funniest 5 winner Sean Jordan continues to attract some killer headliners—often comics on the threshold of the big time—for this intermittently occurring showcase. Their names might be smaller than those at Helium, but they often boast lots of zip and cunning: Think Emily Heller, Jerrod Carmichael and Beth Stelling. Ticket prices are also generally far lower than at Helium, and there's no drink minimum. This weekend, the whip-smart, London-born Matt Kirshen will hit the stage, and W. Kamau Bell—one of the sharpest voices on race and politics—will take the mic in January. Venues, dates and prices vary.
This monthly showcase hosted by the amiable Amy Miller—last year's Funniest 5 winner—remains one of the best in town, and not just because the red lights and clown paintings of Funhouse Lounge are so damn creepy. The lineup is always stacked with top-notch locals and a slam-bang surprise guest or two, often marquee names who've downed a drink or two since finishing their show at Helium. In the past year, Dave Attell, Norm Macdonald and Todd Glass have all stopped by. Funhouse Lounge, 2432 SE 11th Ave. Midnight every fourth Saturday. Free.
This monthly showcase, held in the lounge at retrocade Ground Kontrol, is chaotic, noisy and fun. Co-hosts Steven Wilber (our No. 3 comic) and Raishawn Wickwire put together a consistently strong bill of locals, and they've also snagged some impressive touring comics, including Myq Kaplan and Moshe Kasher. Ground Kontrol, 511 NW Couch St. 9 pm every third Thursday. $3.
In a show that mashes standup and Pictionary, comics perform while artists illustrate their sets live. There's a predictable tendency toward penis drawings, but also an offbeat play between the visual and the verbal. Andie Main hosts. Curious Comedy Theater, 5225 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. 9:30 pm every second Friday. $10-$12.
For this newish, sporadically occurring showcase, host Steven Wilber asks comics to bring their strangest material to the stage—stuff not normally seen at Helium, including characters, songs, video bits, cartooning tutorials, faux commercials, whatever. Over the past few months, that's meant an unorthodox sound check from Christian Ricketts, Nariko Ott performing as a diamond magnate named Tom, and Whitney Streed presenting a riotously funny PowerPoint about gender. Helium Comedy Club, 1510 SE 9th Ave. Date varies. $10-$17.