Category Archives: Noteworthy Humor

Portland’s Funniest Finals Are Finally Happening!

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Bri Pruett
Bri Pruett

It’s been extremely exciting past few weeks as the Helium Comedy Club has been hosting Portland’s Funniest Person contest. The preliminaries started out strong as over 100 comics both well-known and up-and-coming competed to be the funniest person. At the end of each show, the audience decided the fate of the competing comics, voting on original material, audience reaction and the obvious quality of the material. This round took about 2 weeks to complete.

Jason Traeger
Jason Traeger

Last week, the judging moved to a panel of well-known Portland comedy aficionados including Art Santana (program director for Ground Kontrol Arcade), Heather McGowan (PDX comedy expert), Greg Nibler and Sarah Dylan (Funemployment Radio) and members of Kill Rock Stars.

Katie Nguyen
Katie Nguyen

Comedians were judged on very similar terms, gauging audience reaction as the show progressed, leaving the audience free to enjoy the show without the burden of moving comics through to the final round. As an audience member, this was quite a relief because every comic participating gave incredible performances.

Nariko Ott
Nariko Ott

It’s very exciting to announce the finalists for this contest. They include Alex Falcone, Bri Pruett, Caitlin Weierhauser, Katie Nguyen, Chris Ettrick, Adam Pasi, Robert Smith, Kyle Harbert, Dylan Jenkins, Zak Toscani, Jason Traeger and Nariko Ott with 2015 funniest person Amy Miller. This is sure to be one of the highlights in stand-up comedy that Portland has to offer for 2017. Tickets are still available from Helium Comedy Club for the final show. Be sure to get your tickets soon. See you there!

Spotlight on Amy Miller’s upcoming 1st Album Recording

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Portland has produced some great names in comedy both current and up-and-coming. Matt Braunger, founder of Bridgetown Comedy Festival is a Portland native. Sean Jordan, regular guest on Doug Loves Movies also has deep roots here in Rip City. Many more can be named, however the one and only Amy Miller will be taping her first comedy album here in Portland on July 7th!

Amy, originally from Oakland, discovered her knack for stand-up in the bay area. She relocated to Portland to become a local phenom, hosting Midnight Ma$$ as well as Stand Up For Yourself. She’s made multiple appearances on Doug Loves Movies, won Portland’s Funniest Person contest in 2015 and was a semi-finalist on Last Comic Standing. She has since had a brief stint in New York City but is now a proud member of the Los Angeles comedy scene! Amy will be recording her album on July 7th at the Alberta Street Pub at 7:00pm and 9:30pm. Check out my interview with Amy!

Q: Can you tell me a bit about how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking going into your first album recording?

A: I’m excited! And a little freaked out. It’s a scary and weird thing to have a particular live show captured forever. But there’s also something really magical about it. Like hey remember that night at Alberta St? Yeah, here’s a piece of vinyl you can use to re-live it.

Spotlight-on-Amy-Miller-01Q: Why the Alberta Street Pub for the recording?

A: Kill Rock Stars wanted a place that was sort of intimate, and that doesn’t have a bar in the same room as the recording which is tricky in most smaller venues. Plus it has an ongoing comedy show now and has become a known space for the Portland comedy community so I think it’s fitting.

Q: Where are you drawing your inspiration for this album?

A: In some ways I think it’s signaling the next phase of my career. I just left a full-time job to pursue comedy and it’s cool to have my first album punctuate this time, while getting many of the jokes I’ve written over the past 6 years down on a recording. It feels like a congratulations for not quitting comedy trophy. Like I defeated the real Bowser and can move on to the harder castle and win the game. Also, I will need something to sell now. So that’s a nice perk.

Q: How do you think your move to New York has affected your career in comedy?

A: I am moving to LA! I went out to New York for about 6 weeks to do a bunch of sets and get my ass kicked a little bit after leaving the warm supportive embrace of Portland. Going to New York is always good practice in getting out short, punchy jokes, and also remembering nobody gives a fuck about your feelings. But I just signed a lease in LA. Everybody come to my swimming pool!!!!

Q: You took down Portland’s Funniest Person contest last year and are doing a great job hosting this year. How has that victory made a difference in your career?

A: Thank you! I think it’s been a good credit to have, though there’s a geographical limit to it. Like when people introduce me in New York as Portland’s Funniest Person, I can feel the crowd going to sleep. On the West Coast it’s been great and ultimately I hope got me more work at Helium which is a great club that’s given me so many opportunities.

Spotlight-on-Amy-Miller-02Q: What do you think is the most valuable lesson you learned from Last Comic Standing? How did that experience influence your album recording?

A: I learned that when a bunch of powerful badass funny women run a TV show it can be a wonderful experience. I think I also learned to trust my instincts and remember that under any circumstances, even with TV lights, and a studio audience and three judges watching, and a million edits being done to my material, ultimately it’s my job to make the people in the room laugh and that’s where I get the most satisfaction. I will take that same lesson into the room when I record the album. I can’t be up there thinking, this is being recorded forever. I just need to make the people in the room laugh. The rest will happen if I can do that.

Q: What kind of challenges have you faced coming up with the material for the album?

A: Well that material has been coming since I started. I don’t know this from personal experience but I imagine the FIRST album might be the easiest because you’ve had all your initial years to come up with and practice jokes. The challenge is in figuring out the order that’s best-suited to a good arc for the whole show. Luckily I’ve had a lot of time to run long sets recently so I think it’s close!

Stand up for Lez Stand Up

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Portland’s Gay Pride celebrations visually kicked off on Friday, 6/17 when Scandals, one of the city’s most popular gay bars since it’s inception in 1971, held it’s Pride block party on Southwest Stark in downtown. However, for some, Pride kicked off with the monthly stand-up showcase Lez Stand Up.

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Caitlin Weierhauser

Lez Stand Up is usually hosted by well-known Portland comic Kirsten Kuppenbender (Coop, Kup, you get the idea…). Kupp, due to personal matters, was not able to host this particular show. However, LSU regular Caitlin Weierhauser effortlessly stepped in to take care of the job alongside Bob Wolf, stepping into the character of Tammy “Gae” Baker, showing up on the stage constantly trying to hijack the show with her own musical numbers which were thwarted by Weierhauser.

Melody Awesomazing
Melody Awesomazing

The rest of the LSU crew of Laura Anne Whitley, Mel Haywood Diane Gasperin performed wonderful sets to a sold out Siren Theater alongside special guests Whitney Streed and pet psychic Melody Awesomazing who’s show is 50% clown, 50% magic and 100% for entertainment purposes only.

Whitney Streed
Whitney Streed

Lez Stand Up is performed monthly throughout the city (Siren Theater, Curious Comedy) and sometimes in wonderfully scenic spots such as Astoria. Be sure to check out their Facebook page and their website for more information.

Helium Comedy Club seeks Funniest Person now through June 29!

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Helium-Comedy-Club-seeks-Funniest-Person-03In 2010, Portland welcomed its new comedy spot Helium Comedy Club to the scene. Helium was the first club in Portland to take on the semi-circle organization (similar to the normal Improv layout). It comes highly regarded amongst the comedians that perform there for being timely with comedians, quick with service and prompt in handling all hecklers. Helium has definitely made its name in the comedy club world, hosting such shows as Doug Loves Movies with Doug Benson, Norm MacDonald, Michael Ian Black and many more.

Helium-Comedy-Club-seeks-Funniest-Person-02One year after beginning, Helium hosted its very first Portland’s Funniest Person contest. The winner was Ian Karmel, current writer and roundtable regular on E!’s Chelsea Lately. Since then, Nathan Brannon, Shane Torres, Steve Wilbur and Amy Miller have all taken the stage and come out victorious as the winners of their respective years. You may remember seeing them at the very recent Bridgetown Comedy Festival. If you didn’t get the chance, your weekend was nowhere near as good as mine. (Portland Notes was granted an all-access pass to the festival, and certainly took advantage of the much needed laughs!)

Helium-Comedy-Club-seeks-Funniest-Person-01Starting June 7th all the way through June 29th, the Funniest Person Preliminaries will be held at Helium. Such Portland favorites including Gabe Dinger, Bri Pruett, Adam Posi, Caitlin Weierhauser, Jeremy Eli and Wendy Weiss will be competing this year. Tickets are currently on sale for the preliminaries. Semi-finals are held on July 5th & 6th and the finals being held on July 13th. Be sure to visit Helium’s website to see a full calendar of performers and don’t miss this competition!

Bridgetown Comedy Festival starts June First!

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It’s finally here: Bridgetown Comedy Festival starts tomorrow night, June 1st at 7:00pm with the Festival Kick-Off Show at Doug Fir Lounge. You guys have been following this series for two weeks now as we’ve shined a spotlight on some of our great local performers and their thoughts on Bridgetown. Everyone is super excited for the festival to start, including its founder, Matt Braunger.

Matt, a Portland local for most of his life, premiered Bridgetown Comedy Festival in 2008 with headliners Patton Oswalt and Tig Notaro. Since then, the festival has come to be a standard in the comedy world along with other festivals such as Just for Laughs, Oddball and others. Here, Matt gives us a little insight on how BCF started, the challenges faced and the future of the festival.

Q: Can you tell me a little bit about what life as a comedian in Portland was like around the time you started BCF?

A: When we started Bridgetown, I was in Los Angeles, and had just started getting noticed as a comedian. In fact, my first televised stand-up gig “Live at Gotham” taped the last day I was to be at Bridgetown. I had to leave for NYC midway through our maiden weekend to go shoot it (and totally missed Patton Oswalt’s sets (boo!)). For the last couple of years leading up to it I had been flying home to Portland, playing little divey places, and having Andy Wood (my co-founder) open for me. It was his idea to ultimately start a little festival in Portland. By then I’d been in LA for about four years. I’d do two shows in a renovated funeral parlor, charge five bucks, split it with Andy, and sleep at my parents’ house. The door charge would just barely cover my plane ticket.

Q: What was the inspiration behind BCF?

A: We just wanted a comedy festival here, and realized Portland needed one. Thankfully, we also had Andy Wood, who was the type of guy who figured out how to own and rent out a house while still in his 20s AND start a comedy festival. From the beginning he had the organizational skills and I had the famous comedian friends to ask to do the festival for not much money. That changed later on as we grew. Now it’s a part of the fabric of Portland, and everybody here looks forward to it. Last year a hipster kid just walked by me and high-fived me on the street. Didn’t say a word. Hilarious.


Q: What were some of the obstacles you faced when you started BCF?

Bridgetown-Comedy-Festival-Matt-Braunger-01A: As far as obstacles, the biggest one was getting coverage and press. That and getting people to play the festival for not much money due to our lack of resources. But I really remember the frustration of getting told by local outlets that we had “No hook” to make it news. Uh, it’s the first and only comedy festival in Portland, and Patton Oswalt and Tig Notaro are coming our first year. That’s not a hook? One paper wanted to interview Tig specifically about being a lesbian in comedy, but she didn’t want to talk about that so they called the interview off. So dumb.

Q: Who were/are you most excited to book for BCF and why?

A: I’m always excited to book people we’ve never had, both famous and non. Rachel Bloom was a huge get for us this year. It was awesome to be in the audience at the Critic’s Choice Awards this year and seeing her win one. I watched her giving her speech, thinking to myself, “Wonder if she’d do Bridgetown….,” and now she is. The thrill of Patton calling to ask to do the first year gave me chills. But you just can’t beat young comics who’ve never been a part of a festival wandering around Portland, starry-eyed. That’s probably what gives me the biggest charge.

Q: Out of all the years you’ve been involved with BCF, what is your most memorable moment?

Bridgetown-Comedy-Festival-Matt-Braunger-02A: Off the top of my head I remember being at a Bridgetown after party, maybe in 2013, rapping along with my childhood friend to a song from our high school days the DJ was playing, then suddenly where we were. They were throwing the party in the ex-funeral parlor I used to do my Portland shows in when Andy came up with the idea for Bridgetown. My friend Chantelle used to book bands that would play at 10:00 and I’d get the 8 to 10 slot for comedy, back in like 2005/6. I was like, “Whoa! We’ve come full circle!!”

Q: What are you most excited about when it comes to the future of BCF?

A: As far as the future is concerned, I’m excited about it hopefully expanding without changing too much. I want more resources to pay people what they deserve, but to continue to book famous and completely not famous people in equal measure. I’m such a huge comedy fan, I just want people to love it like I do. I mean, I’m the guy who can say people’s jokes back to them. I collect bits in my mind. Life is full of pressure and pain, and laughing sets us free from that for a little while. Also, it’s crazy to look around and see everybody (comics and audience members alike) having the time of their lives in my hometown. With me. I love it.

Matt has 6 appearances at Bridgetown this year including the Festival Kick-Off Show. Tickets are still available at www.BridgetownComedyFestival.com. Get into it!