Category Archives: Noteworthy Humor

Bridgetown Preview

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When it comes to the entertainment industry, music festivals have seemingly dominated the market over the past 10 years. Coachella and Goldenvoice broke new ground when they re-united Los Angeles band Rage Against the Machine 9 years ago. Since then, festivals like Burning Man, a mid-80’s unknown gem have grown tremendously in size and popularity. Stage Coach is the industry standard in country music showcases. Bonnaroo, Sasquatch, South by Southwest, Electric Daisy Carnival… this list goes on and on.

Are festivals a new practice in the music industry? Absolutely not. Anyone who calls themselves a millennial would be remiss if they admitted that festivals were only around since their high school graduations. The truth is festivals have been a long running practice when it comes to music. We see this is also true in film. Sundance is a household name when it comes to what movies may make it to the Oscars. Cannes out of France has also made a name for itself in the past few years, lending its name to some of the most inspired works that cinema has had to offer. Again, this is not a new concept to those who put even the slightest bit of research into the music or film industry.

That begs the question: What about comedy? Comedy festivals have been around for quite some time as well but have never gained the same traction or attention that has been granted to music and film, until now that is. For the past decade, comedy has seen a resurgence in popularity. Comics such as Amy Schumer, Louie C.K., John Mulaney once making their rounds in the cut-throat comedy scene have now gone to create development deals with Comedy Central, FX, Netflix and even self-produced original, critically-acclaimed programming. Now that the national comedy scene is a monster that has finally been woken up, comedy festivals are now making rearing their hilarious heads to give us, the audience, the chance to binge-laugh as much as our bodies can possibly handle.

Bridgetown-Preview-02Now, in 2016, comedy festivals are a force to be reckoned with. SF Sketchfest, SheDot, Wild West Comedy Festival, Boston Comedy Arts Festival and others come to show the US, Canada and the rest of the world that laughter is important to everyone. Here in Portland, we are lucky enough to host Bridgetown Comedy Festival. Started in 2008 with the help of Matt Braunger (pictured) and others, Bridgetown has showcased the likes of Patton Oswalt, Marc Maron, Maria Bamford, Janeane Garofalo, Kristen Schaal and countless others.

Bridgetown-Preview-01Comedians from all around the country as well as our incredible local comics flock to our amazing city to participate in Bridgetown Comedy Festival. Headliners for Bridgetown 2016 include Eddie Pepitone (Maron), Oscar Nuñez(The Office), Matt Braunger (Agent Carter) and John Michael Higgins (Arrested Development). Local comics this year will include Amy Miller (pictured), Sean Jordan, Gabe Dinger, Caitlin Weirerhauser, the Earthquake Hurricane crew (Alex Falcone, Bri Pruett, Curtis Cook and Anthony Lopez), Nathan Brannon and so many more. These comics will grace (mostly) the South East at amazing venues such as Revolution Hall, Doug Fir Lounge, Bunk Bar Water and Bossanova Room.

Bridgetown Comedy Festival will be taking place June 1st – June 5th. Tickets are on sale and still available for $119 – $275 spanning the entire weekend with access to most if not all venues hosting these comedians. BCF is also looking for volunteers to help set up venues, work with comedians in green rooms, transportation and event coordination. More info on BCF can be found by visiting www.BridgeTownComedy.com. Don’t miss this amazingly hilarious opportunity!

Hollywood Theater’s Hecklevision: Crowd-sourced comedy!

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About a month ago, movie theater giant American Multi-Cinema released a proposal to begin having “text-friendly” screenings throughout their theaters. This would allow audiences (primarily to accommodate millennials) to purchase a ticket for a movie and stare at their phones, which, as we all know is a wonderful way to spend money and enjoy an evening out. Very shortly after, AMC received some very strongly worded opinions from the public and quickly rescinded that offer, saying that texting would not be allowed, “not today, not tomorrow and not in the foreseeable future.” Here in Portland, we don’t take kindly to texting during movies either, unless it’s the hilarious Hecklevision hosted by the Hollywood Theater and Art Santana, event producer for both the Hollywood and Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade. At Hollywood Theater’s Hecklevision, the audience is encouraged to text-at-will with finesse and comedic timing.

Hollywood-Theater’s-Hecklevision-02Hecklevision carries a name that is almost too perfect for what it is. After having the night’s film selection introduced by host Santana and comedian JoAnn Schinderle, the film began to play. What film was worthy of being heckled by an entire theater full of Portland humor connoisseurs? None other than the 1996 Bill Paxton/Helen Hunt classic, Twister. From the very first frame of what was supposed to be the gusty wind of a tornado, heckles like “Man, Harry Potter was way darker in the early years…” began to roll in. As the film progressed, the featured comedians (including the aforementioned Schinderle, Alex Falcone, Whitney Streed, Coor Cohen, David Mascorro, Riley Fox and Kelly Richardson) submitted their highlighted heckles for the extra deep and perfectly placed jabs. Special pop-in comedians included Bri Pruett and Caitlin Weierhauser, offering delightful additions to the already fantastic laughs.

Hollywood-Theater’s-Hecklevision-01As you’ve probably guessed, the comedians are not the only ones who get to participate which is what makes this experience particularly unique. Comedy junkies such as myself will know the names of shows like the Benson Movie Interruption, Master Pancake and others featuring a handful of stand-up comedians with microphones doing a “Mystery Science Theater 3000” style commentary for an audience. Though these are fantastic and well-established shows, Hecklevision makes the comedy more accessible and participatory, allowing everyone who has purchased a ticket to participate. Being able to watch a film I remember from my childhood and submit jokes as an adult is quite a great experience, one that I will be sure to take advantage of over and over again.

Sponsored by Chipotle Restaurants, Deschutes Brewery and Pabst Blue Ribbon, Hecklevision uses the magic of MuVChat technology. Jokes, heckles and commentary are encouraged – in text form. Witty wisecracks instantly appear on screen. Each month, special comedic guests hang out to crack jokes with the audience. If you’ve ever wondered, “Am I funny?”, this is a great way to find out!

The Hollywood Theater is known to host Hecklevision monthly. Previous movies shown in Hecklevision include Red Dawn, Commando!, and Masters of The Universe as well as both the GOP and Democratic primary debates. I would highly encourage anyone who wants to laugh at classic bad movies to get on the calendar for the Hollywood Theater and grab tickets as soon as the next show is announced. In a world where crowd-sourcing for movies, TV shows, project ideas and potato salad dominates creative funding, Hecklevision is excitedly on the forefront of crowd-sourced comedy.

Velo Cult Bike Shop presents local comedy: Earthquake Hurricane on Wednesday nights!

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Thinking about seeing a comedy show brings two thoughts to my head: laughter and a 2 drink minimum. If you’re like me, you’d much prefer the former to the latter. I can say with confidence that such an ideal no-drink minimum show does indeed exist. It may, in fact, be the most “Portland” way imaginable to experience a stand-up show. The show is not presented in the standard comedy club or basement bar, but instead takes over a completely unassuming bike shop. Every Wednesday night at 9pm, Alex Falcone, Anthony Lopez, Bri Pruett and Curtis Cook gather to put on a show that has brought some of the best laughs I’ve experienced at a stand-up show. It’s called Earthquake Hurricane, and it’s a wild, ever-evolving breath of fresh air!

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Hosts of Earthquake Hurricane (left to right) Curtis Cook, Bri Pruett, Anthony Lopez & Alex Falcon

The show itself takes place on the stage right in the middle of the Velo Cult Bike Shop off of NE 42nd Ave, within walking distance of the historic Hollywood Theater. Audience members sit in the middle of the shop at tables artistically showcasing bike parts, while they sip on craft beer served by the shop’s bartenders. They take note of the many bikes hanging off the walls, from the ceiling and on wooden displays flanking the stage. You may even see one of the bartenders fixing one of the many bikes brought in by a Portland patron earlier that day.. Dueling bike repairmen and comedians makes for a completely authentic “Portland” experience that you cannot find anywhere else.

Comedian Gary Anderson
Comedian Gary Anderson

Every week, the show’s hosts take to the stage to discuss weekly events, news and their own lives as an introduction, before bringing on the showcase of comedy for the week. Performers from all over the West Coast flock to Earthquake Hurricane to perform for the delightful crowds that attend. Along with up-and-coming local talent, I have seen incredible performers who are known to regularly sell out large comedy clubs such as Improv, Helium, and The Comedy Store. Some examples of these gems are Sean Jordan, Geoff Tate, Barry Crimmins, Matt Braunger and James Adomian. Between comics, the local hosts take the stage to deliver their own 5 minutes of comedy, always bringing the evening’s themes together with clever wit and audience participation. .

Comedian Nathan Brannon
Comedian Nathan Brannon

Earthquake Hurricane is absolutely a show you don’t want to miss. I’ve had the pleasure of attending almost regularly for the past 6 months. The show has become part of my weekly routine, as I don’t want to miss the comedians’ reactions to the news of the week.. Watching all of our local talent come through to develop material and support one another has been an incredibly entertaining and rewarding opportunity that is just too rich to miss! Seeing Portland’s weirdness through the eyes of visiting stand-up comedians is also a humbling and very entertaining experience. We need to laugh at ourselves sometimes, right?

Comedian Sean Jordan
Comedian Sean Jordan

Comedian Alex Falcone gives us some Late Night Action!

Comedian-Alex-Falcone-FILate Night Action is a talk show in the style of The Tonight Show or Conan but with a twist: it’s live and it’s Portland-focused. Starting with a monologue about local news then covering the best local celebrities, comedians, and bands – Late Night Action is now in its 6th and final season in Portland. In this Q&A, our comedy writer, Randall Lawrence, explores what has inspired creator Alex Falcone to pursue his comedic dream and where Alex sees the local and national comedy scene to be headed.

The “late night” model of programming seems so natural for you on stage. How is it that you landed on that as one of your comedic outlets?

When you do comedy you spend a lot of time in bars after shows shouting at each other saying stuff like, “You know what somebody should do?” Most of it turns into nothing, but I told a friend one night that somebody should do a rip-off of the Tonight Show but focused on Portland celebrities and local news jokes and she was like, “Yeah. I’ll produce that.” And we were off to the races.

There have been some legendary late night hosts throughout television history. Who would you say is your biggest influence in that area? How did you discover that host and what was it about them that made such an impact on you?

Comedian-Alex-Falcone-02This is a bit different, but the hosts I spent the most time watching were Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert. Their Comedy Central shows were different because unlike classic late night fare, they could have opinions. And between the two, I always liked Colbert a bit more because he was less angry and more silly. One of the great things about doing the show on stage and in Portland is we can take a stand on all kinds of issues and people can’t just change the channel. I guess they could get up and leave but that’s way more work so they don’t do it. And I absolutely love what Colbert’s done with the Late Show. It’s so good.

Can you pinpoint the exact moment and describe when you knew exactly that comedy was your future?

I’ve always loved making people laugh. I had this old tape recorder I’d stolen from my mom when I was 6 or 7 and I used to make little radio shows. I did this parody of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous where I would just walk around the house describing it as if we were super rich like “And this is where we keep the cereal. The Queen gave us these Cheerios.” Really glad those tapes didn’t survive.

Later, I remember watching the pilot of Whose Line Is It Anyway? with my parents and we were all in tears laughing and I thought, “All I want in the world is to be this funny.”

As far as stand-up is concerned, who would you say is/are your biggest influence(s)? What about their acts/voice/messages do you think are most impactful?

I found a George Carlin CD early on and was blown away that you could be so dirty and smart at the same time. Then my dad made me listen to his early stuff like “Al Sleet the Hippy Dippy Weatherman”, which is also super funny but SUPER different. And that was big for me that you could go such different directions and be totally funny.

And that journey is still the same for a lot of comics. You have to be clean early on to get work and then once you know how to tell a joke, you can start talking about more stuff. When comics do their first open mic and try to sound like late Carlin, they don’t do as well.

Who do you think is the most important comedic voice we have today? Why?

Comedian-Alex-Falcone-01John Oliver is doing the most interesting comedy to me right now. Everybody complained that our attention spans were disappearing, that people wanted just sound bytes. And so Oliver was like, “I’m going to do a show with 20 minute segments about obscure tax laws” and it was amazing. He also does this thing where the show reaches out and touches the real world and that’s my favorite thing in comedy. To make a point, he’ll buy a billboard or start a church or send fans to baseball games in shark costumes. It touches the real world. I think that’s so cool.

It seems to be somewhat commonplace to hear the story of “My parents wanted me to go get a degree in x, y or z”. Were you supported initially when you voiced your comedic aspirations?

My parents have been crazy encouraging. My freshman year in college I wasn’t even really doing comedy. I’d tried out for the improv team and didn’t make it and I was writing a “humor ‘zine”, but I hadn’t gotten up the courage to stand up yet. During a break I was at a party with my dad and I overheard him telling one of his friends that after I graduate I’ll probably be a comedy writer for a TV show or something and I was blown away. I wasn’t anywhere near as confident as he was that I’d get to be a comedian!

Even now, half the traffic to my website comes from my parents because they check it constantly to see what new thing I’m doing. It’s actually kinda weird how supportive they are.

It appears that many comics will relocate to either Los Angeles or New York to continue and grow their stand-up careers. What do you think needs to happen to make Portland one of the main comedy hubs of the US?

I don’t think that’s the way to look at it. 99% of the money in entertainment is in LA and NYC. That’s not going to change any time soon. What Portland is and will continue to be is a comedy playground. There’s a ton of shows but no industry, so people can experiment. And because of the number of comics who have been graduating to the big 2, there’s a pipeline for people who get great here to move to bigger stages. I like Portland being a hub for people who are going to be huge one day to mess around and find their voices.

It’s been quite amazing to see the growth and development of your weekly showcase Earthquake Hurricane including all of the amazing acts you have been able to book lately. Where do you see that going in the next few years? Do you anticipate a “passing of the torch” to other local comics to keep the show going?

We haven’t made any decisions about this yet, but that’s definitely an option. When one of us leaves we’ll probably bring in a replacement. Four is a great number for running a show. We’ve talked about maybe someday having an Earthquake Hurricane South down in LA if/when we all end up down there. We’ve also been doing some college shows as a group and I loved that. It’s fun to take us as a group because it gives a bunch of different attitudes and perspectives to the students. I love Curtis, Anthony, and Bri and I’d work with them again any time in any situation. We started as a show because they were my favorite comics and I wanted to work with them, and that hasn’t changed.