Tag Archives: Bridgetown Comedy Festival

The Bridgetown Comedy Festival Experience! A review by Randall Lawrence

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Bridgetown Comedy Festival has been over for a few weeks now and I’m just now recovered from it. You have to understand, 5 straight days of comedy will give you a bit of sleep-deprived delirium and the occasional stand-up flashback. When attending BCF, it’s easy to forget that it’s 2am and you’ve been running from venue to venue for hours on end, catching two thirds of each show, cramming copious amounts of fast food into your face and being in pain over how much your stomach hurts from laughing. It’s also easy to forget that you have work in the morning – getting 3 hours of sleep every night for 5 straight nights is not exactly rejuvenating for the body. I also have a deep respect for new parents – my sleep deprivation was of my own volition. They, on the other hand, do not have any say in the matter of a full night’s sleep.

Now that you’re aware of the struggle, I want to touch on a few of the highlights that I’m pretty stoked about when it comes to this festival I just had the privilege of taking part in. The first I’ve talked about before: Earthquake Hurricane. This show happens regularly at the Velo Cult Bike Shop in Northeast every Wednesday at 9pm. The guests that they had including Solomon Georgio, David Gborie and Greg Behrendt were absolutely stellar, absolutely nothing short of the quality they deliver weekly.

Next is Lez Get Together. This show, hosted by the wonderful Caitlin Weierhauser took place at Bunk Bar Water and featured wonderful comedians such as Whitney Streed and Kate Willett. I’d go through the rest of the list of comedians to give them props but, unfortunately, I had to dip out for the next show.

Third, the Secret Headliner show at Bunk Bar Water featured a couple of my new favorite comics. First was Mia Jackson who took on a wonderful observation of relationships and communication within them. Nick Dixon from northern England delivered material that he wasn’t sure would land here in Portland, but had the entire audience doubled over in laughter. The secret headliner, Clayton English, brought the house down for the night, sending everyone home with aching sides.

Fourth on my list is a wonderful podcast, touching on the “politically correct” movement that we’re oh so familiar with in Portland. Unsafe Space, hosted by Lou Perez and Toby Muresianu featured Portland’s own Bri Pruett (Earthquake Hurricane, Let’s Do It with Bri Pruett) as well as Baron Vaughn (Conan, Grace and Frankie) as well as Teela Foxworth (Communications Professor at Highline College) and Charlie Hinkle (former cooperating attorney with the ACLU and teacher of first amendment law at Lewis and Clark Law School). The podcast expertly focused on civil rights issues, PC culture and white privilege in relations to stand-up comedy and television, forcing the comics to have the uncomfortable conversations needed to drive the conversation of trigger words, gender pronouns and stereotyping in a progressive, forward-thinking direction.

Lastly, and I’ll keep this short, was the closing show, The Dirty 30. 30 comics took the stage and were given 3 minutes to tell their dirtiest material. Highlights were Sean Jordan, Matt Braunger, Martin Urbano, Shane Torres and Casey Ley. What a fantastic way to close out this festival.

In closing, go to BCF 2017. It is well worth the ticket price for the general admission wristband. If you’re okay with being really tired for the reward of seeing absolutely hilarious comics, meeting wonderful comedy connoisseurs and exploring the great venues this city has to offer, then Bridgetown Comedy Festival is absolutely what you should be doing with your life.

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!

For comedy: Bridgetown Comedy Festival hits home with locals!

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Bridgetown Comedy Festival is just under a week away. June 1-5, at venues all over Portland! In this spotlight feature, we’re asking 4 former and current local comedians about the impact and reach of the innovative festival. All of the participants are very excited about the community spirit presented by the festival, as well as the national attention that is brought to our fair city.

Curtis Cook is one of the hosts of Earthquake Hurricane, a weekly local comedy showcase at the Velo Cult Bike Shop. Originally from Ohio, Curtis relocated to Portland,is a writer for the Willamette Week and has appeared on Daily VICE. Curtis will be a part of 7 different performances throughout Bridgetown including a sample of the Earthquake Hurricane program.

Curtis Cook
Curtis Cook

Randall: How and when did you first become involved with Bridgetown?

Curtis: I applied to Bridgetown a few days after moving to Portland in 2013. When I got an email saying that I’d been accepted into the festival, I called my mom and said, “Mom! I got into Bridgetown!” My mom said, “Oh. That is very nice for you.”

I don’t think she knew what I was talking about, but she’s very supportive.

Shane Torres, Portland native turned New York City resident has made appearances on IFC’s Comedy Bang Bang, as well as Last Comic Standing and TBS’s Conan. Shane will be making 6 appearances throughout Bridgetown.

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Shane Torres

Randall: What’s your most memorable experience from BCF in the past?

Shane: There are always memories that pop up. I remember the first year, one of the only sponsors was a porn shop = and they gave DVD’s for gift bags. Plenty of people took the gift bags, but left the videos. As the last show was ending, we started throwing smut out into the audience.

Amy Miller, originally from Oakland, found her way to Portland. She quickly found her footing, winning the title of Portland’s Funniest Comedian at Helium Comedy Club . She then went on to be named “Portland’s Funniest” by Willamette Week in 2013 & 2016. She’s made appearances on Doug Loves Movies as well as Last Comic Standing. Amy will be bringing her Stand Up For Yourself! show to Bridgetown Comedy Festival this year, and we cannot wait to see her again!

Amy Miller
Amy Miller

Randall: Why do you think BCF is important to Portland?

Amy: Bridgetown has helped put Portland comedy on the map for industry, and comics as well. So many people became aware of Portland’s amazing comedy scene from the festival. They also use some unorthodox venues. You can live in Portland for years and see a Bridgetown show and go, “wow I never noticed this place!” I like that the festival showcases the city itself as much as its talent.

Caitlin Weierhauser is a part of Lez Stand Up, a regular showcase in Portland. She’s also performed at All Jane Comedy Festival, Bumbershoot and was included in the AfterEllen list of “40 Hot Queer Women in Comedy”.

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Caitlin Weierhauser

Randall: Who are you excited to see this year? How do you think they’ve made/are making an important impact on comedy?

Caitlin: Dulce Sloan, Sam Jay, Yusef Roach, Morgan Murphy, Kate Willett, Sabrina Jalees, Baron Vaughn, Aparna Nancherla, Rhea Butcher, Guy Branum, Solomon Georgio. Their voices are fresh and sharp, and their perspectives are incredibly valuable in a landscape that has been dominated by straight white men for way too long. It’s exciting to see how radically comedy is changing,

With non-stop comedy acts June 1-5, Bridgetown Comedy Festival is the place to be this week. Bring some fun into your life, check out some awesome Portland venues, and share your laughs with the crowd!

Bridgetown Comedy Festival: Spotlight on Amy Miller!

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Bridgetown Comedy Festival is presenting another amazing comic, Amy Miller, now a member of the New York comedy scene. Amy, originally from Oakland, found her way to Portland then quickly found her footing as she won Portland’s Funniest Comedian at Helium Comedy Club then went on to be named Portland’s Funniest in the Willamette Week in 2013 & 2016. She’s made appearances on Doug Loves Movies as well as Last Comic Standing.

Amy will be bringing her Stand Up For Yourself! show to Bridgetown Comedy Festival this year and we cannot wait to see her again! Check out my quick interview with Amy!

Q: How and when did you first become involved with Bridgetown?

A: This is my third year doing the festival, though I went to the shows before that. I’ve been doing comedy 5 1/2 years so it’s been on my radar just as long! As soon as I started, it became a goal of mine to get in. It’s just the best comedy festival.

Spotlight-on-Amy-Miller-02Q: What’s your most memorable experience from BCF in the past?

A: The year that Emo Philips came was pretty incredible. I like that Bridgetown gets the best of young comics but also books our heroes. He’s such a genius and he was so nice and just magical to have around. Same thing with 2015 and Dr. Katz Live. That show was so important to me, it was just surreal to see it in person. Since then I’ve gotten to interact with Jonathan Katz a bit, and he thinks I say “dude” too much in my standup.

Q: Why do you think BCF is important to Portland?

A: Bridgetown has helped put Portland comedy on the map for industry, and comics as well. So many people became aware of Portland’s amazing comedy scene from coming to into town for the festival. They also use some unorthodox venues. You can live in Portland for years and see a Bridgetown show and go, wow I never noticed this place? I like that they showcase the city itself as much as its talent.

Spotlight-on-Amy-Miller-01Q: Who are you excited to see this year? How do you think they’ve made/are making an important impact on comedy?

A: Rachel Bloom! Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is one of my favorite new shows and she’s just a powerhouse of a performer. Plus the show is at Revolution Hall, which is a newer and really beautiful venue. Rachel has somehow made an hour-long musical comedy sitcom be not just watchable but hilarious. No small feat. And my talk show! Stand Up For Yourself. The lineup is incredible and the show is so much fun. I can say this, yes? Yes.

Bridgetown Comedy Festival Spotlight on Sean Jordan: Festival Fan!

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As the time draws nigh to Bridgetown Comedy Festival, we take a look at another one of Portland’s great stand-up comics, Sean Jordan. Sean, originally from Sioux Falls, SD relocated to Portland in 2009 to become known by Doug Benson as a “Portland Comedy Phenom”. Sean formerly ran the #1 independent comedy showcase Funny Over Everything, was named the funniest person by the Willamette Week, and was a finalist for Portland’s Funniest Person with Helium Comedy Club in 2014.

Sean has 6 appearances at Bridgetown this year including with the very funny Amy Miller, Shane Torres and festival founder Matt Braunger. Check out my interview with Sean!

Q: How and when did you first become involved with Bridgetown?

Bridgetown-Sean-Jordan-01A: I had been in Portland about 6 months or so and I got a call out of the blue from Andy Wood asking if I wanted to do a set on the festival. I didn’t even know what a comedy festival was! A bigger comedian who has been helping me out for quite some time recommended to Andy that I do a spot on the festival. I was so excited to get that call! I had only done a few shows in Portland so far and wasn’t sure comedy was going anywhere really, and then I got to see my first comedy festival. It was insane! Just the excitement of walking up and down Hawthorne with all these comedy fans that I didn’t know existed was such a good feeling. I only went to a few shows because I was kind of shy and didn’t know any of the comedians but it was a blast!

Q: What’s your most memorable experience from BCF in the past?

Bridgetown-Sean-Jordan-02A: Well this will be my 7th year in the festival and it keeps getting better every year so it’s hard to pick. If I HAD to choose I would say that my favorite memory was getting to do Funny Over Everything at the festival last year. Funny Over Everything is a show I started with Ian Karmel and Shane Torres about 4 years ago. We have done it during the festival a couple times but last year was really special because it kind of put a button on my time in Portland. The show sold out and we got to do it with a bunch of our friends who had done it in the past as headliners. Seeing a theater full of people at the theater to see a show that had the name of the 3 best friends that started it was a big deal for me.

Also, we pulled a kids car off the train tracks at an after party one time! That was pretty buck too but I can’t get into the details too much.

Q: Why do you think BCF is important to Portland?

Bridgetown-Sean-Jordan-03A: I think the festival is important for many reasons. 1. It gives local comedians something to shoot for. It is a very big deal to get accepted into one of the most prestigious festivals in the country. I don’t throw that around lightly either. Bridgetown is run by some of the most knowledgable people there are for festivals. They all care and love comedy just as much as any comedian does. 2. It gives out of town comics something to look forward to every year. Everyone loves coming to Portland and it shows most during this festival. You get to see all of your friends from around the country and entertain one of the best cities in the country for a week. It’s the best! 3. It gives the general public a healthy reminder that stand up comedy is out there and if you seek it out and go to a show you’ll probably enjoy it. It’s good to get out and laugh, just forget about your problems for a while and chill. Have a few drinks and see that life is good.

Bridgetown-Sean-Jordan-04I think Bridgetown is good because it gave me my first real taste of what being a stand up comedian can be like. I think it’s good to have things like that in a city. Comedy festivals, music festivals, arts festivals… The list goes on. The more creative outlets you have in your city, the more creativity will be pumped out from the city and that’s always a good thing. Portland has produced some very talented people in all genres of the arts and they continue to do so. This festival and ones like it are a very important part of that process.

Q: Who are you excited to see this year? How do you think they’ve made/are making an important impact on comedy?

Bridgetown-Sean-Jordan-05A: As I look over the list I’m excited for so many people. Ryan Sickler is a good example. He’s a genuinely happy person and that comes through in his comedy. He’s got one of the best laughs in the game and I love every set he does. Steven Wilber will be great. I’ve been seeing him around LA and he’s got some fantastic new material. I’ve always loved him. Solomon Georgio is a gem and a peach. He was just on the cover of LA weekly and is about to blow the fuck up! Aparna Nancherla, David Gborie, Guy Branum. There are so many!