Marcus Coleman didn't set out to tell dad jokes.
When he started performing standup in 2015, Coleman was writing about cops. As a St. Louis native, he knew all too well about the police brutality exposed in the wake of the Michael Brown killing.
"When I started, there were a lot of cop jokes—a lot of cop jokes," Coleman says. "When Ferguson happened, that was not far from where I'm from. I watched that shit unfold on my timeline before it was news."
Coleman's material has evolved a lot since. He's now more apt to talk about being kink-shamed for wanting to wear toe socks in bed and his inability to relate to kids with Odell Beckham's haircut. The burly and bespectacled 25-year-old with a laid-back drawl still stands out in a city where a huge proportion of the material involves bad roommates, drunken regrets and the nuances of dating apps.
Coleman doesn't use dating apps—or emojis.
"I'm not that whimsical, and I'm not going to fake it for you," he says in his set.
Coming from a self-described "simple man from Missouri," Coleman's material draws so much from his childhood that a lot of people don't realize he moved to Beaverton in high school.
"Most people don't know that I've spent any time here because I don't talk about it onstage," he says. "Just went to school here and then got a job—it's really boring. Smoked a lot of weed, went to Eugene sometimes. That's kinda it. So I just mine from the first 17 years of my life. I tell a story about the dude I saw got stabbed at a basketball game—shit like that."
A lot of that interesting stuff involved his dad, also named Marcus. "I didn't plan on being the dad comic," he says. "But there's a lot to mine there."
Marcus the elder is a Marine, bodybuilder, rock climber, stripper and truck driver. "A dirtbag renaissance man," as Marcus Coleman puts it. "He does a lot of weird shit. It all seemed normal to me, and I only found out it's weird looking back on it," he says. That included Dad teaching his son to swipe his hand across the peephole of a door before looking in, just in case the person on the other side has an ice pick and is planning to stab you.
Marcus Coleman also got his son into comedy. They started with Martin Lawrence's 1st Amendment Standup, then Bill Burr, and then Patrice O'Neal.
"I put on a little comedy show with my stepbrothers and my little sister when I was a kid. We would play ComicView. It was just us roasting each other," he says. "It was dope."
Coleman roasts his dad now, which is appreciated.
"He'll remind me of stuff on purpose," Coleman says. "I was writing a joke about him recently, and he texted me, 'Hey, do you remember this thing?' And I'm like, 'Yeah, it's already in there—but thanks for helping out.' He's passing the videos around—anything that mentions him. I have a joke about him being attractive, and he likes showing that one around."
Coleman will have to keep telling jokes about his dad, because he's "a very boring dude."
"I just chill," he says. "I like watching movies and shit. I'm very, very boring. I just kick it with my friends and eat junk food, drink."
Coleman is part of a new generation of comics—the scene WW covered in the first Funniest Five has moved on. Coleman never met fellow Beavertonian Ian Karmel or the other pillars of that scene. But some things about the scene remain the same. Coleman and his friends hang out at a house on Southeast Clinton Street. Coleman scrapes by with a warehouse job counting water jugs and spends his free time hanging with his friends, working on his craft and exploring the mysteries of Portland, such as the majesty of the Reel M Inn jojo. Coleman's affection for the jojo—which is not a potato wedge, and which Coleman eats often after a long night, along with late-night slices of Hammy's pizza—has caused some tension between him and his dad.
"I got annoyed. I was like, 'Why the fuck do y'all call 'em 'jojos'?' So I looked that shit up," he says. "My dad was giving me shit for it. My dad's from Mississippi, and he raised me in St. Louis, so he's like city-country. He was getting on me for saying 'jojos.' 'So you're like a Portland guy now? You call 'em 'jojos'?' And I said, 'No, Dad, they're not the same thing.' I learned this! It's a different thing!"
GO: WW's Funniest Five showcase, hosted by Adam Pasi, is at the Alberta Rose Theatre, 3000 NE Alberta St. 7 pm Tuesday, Nov. 28. $10.