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A laugh riot

Bridgetown Comedy Festival will tickle your funny bone


by: PHOTOS COURTESY OF BRIDGETOWN COMEDY FESTIVAL - KIMBERLY CLARKLos Angeles comedian Kimberly Clark grew up just outside Syracuse, N.Y., and attended a school where she was one of only two black students — the other named Kiesha.

In one of her routines, the former star pupil pokes fun at how she and Kiesha — “the Venus and Serena of academics” — were perceived by the school’s white community.

“I was also known as, ‘Oops, I thought she was Kiesha,’” she says, adding folks liked her and Kiesha, but some parents were perplexed by the girls’ academic success.

“Why are these (girls) getting higher grades?” she says she could see them thinking, as her audience laughs. “They’re black, they’re 13 — shouldn’t they be eating Funyuns and getting pregnant?”

Clark has been at the comedy game for 10 years, occasionally poking fun at racial stereotypes, but spending most of her time on comedy that has nothing to do with gender or race — like zits. Her acne problems have made her a target for guys who think facial blemishes mean she’s desperate for love (hint — she’s not, and has devised a means of covering her zits). She adds that such comedy has won her a diverse fan base. She recalls doing a routine for a group of elderly white folks in Burbank, Calif., who couldn’t stop laughing.

“I thought if I could make these people laugh, I can make anybody laugh,” she says.

Having never been to Portland, Clark says she looks forward to the Bridgetown Comedy Festival, which features 200 comedians, including Emo Phillips, Dan Harmon, Ian Karmel and Reggie Watts, and 100 shows May 8 to 11 at 10 different venues (tickets and info at www.bridgetowncomedy.com).

Clark is part of the “Baron Vaughn Presents The New Negroes” show from 10 to 11:30 p.m. Thursday, May 8, at the Hawthorne Theatre, 1509 S.E. 39th Ave., as well as a show in the Bossanova Ballroom, 722 E. Burnside St. Friday, May 9, from 11:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Prior to the festival, we talked to a number of performers, like Clark, who hope to tickle Portland’s funny femurs:

Kiran Deol

by: PHOTOS COURTESY OF BRIDGETOWN COMEDY FESTIVAL - KIRAN DEOLFew comedians have a noncomedy résumé as weighty as Deol does — she produced the multi-award-winning documentary “Woman Rebel,” which detailed the story of a Nepalese woman who fought in that country’s civil war. When reminded she’s probably one of the few contemporary comedians who’s been in a war zone, Deol says she occasionally has to pinch herself and say, “I was that person?”

“What you find fascinating incarnates in many forms,” she adds.

Then she stops to ponder if her thoughts are too heavy for a comedy article. “Just add ‘and farts’ to everything I say.’”

OK, we’re game — here are a few more of her quotes:

“I like to work in a lot of oscillating between disillusion and despair ... and farts.”

“I talk about how I get lonely ... and farts.”

“A lot of themes will run through what I do ... and farts.”

You can catch Deol, with other performers, at the White Owl, 1305 S.E. Eighth Ave., from 10 to 11:30 p.m. May 8; at the Alhambra Theater, 4811 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd., from 11 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. May 10; and at the Hawthorne Theatre from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Sunday, May 11.

Gabe Dinger

Portland born and bred, Dinger started out in comedy as a heckler.

“I thought I was helping the show,” he confesses.

The comedian on stage challenged him to come on down for an open mic and do a better job. Dinger accepted the challenge, so he has a bit of sympathy for hecklers. But he notes they are not as much of a problem as they once were.

“I think more common than heckling now is you just get people checking their cell phones,” he says.

Dinger won the 2006 CBS Radio Laff Off, and was first runner-up in Helium Comedy Club’s 2013 “Portland’s Funniest Person” contest. He’s also an instructor and regular performer at Curious Comedy Theater and a co-founder of the improv troupe Whiskey Tango.

Dinger’s shtick is more old school — he doesn’t laugh at his own jokes like some contemporary comedians do and says he prefers being “thoughtful as opposed to yelling at an audience.” He will do solo as well as troupe comedy with Whiskey Tango at the festival.

“Stand-up is very regimented,” he adds. “I actually find improv very relaxing compared to stand-up.”

With other performers, you can catch Dinger from 9 to 10:30 p.m. May 9 at the Eagles Lodge, 4904 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd.; from 11 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. at the Analog Cafe, 720 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd.; and from 9 to 10:30 p.m. May 11 in the Jupiter Hotel Tent, 800 E. Burnside St.

Dinger also will perform with Whiskey Tango and The Curious Comedy Players from 9 to 10:30 p.m. May 8 at Analog.

Sean Jordan

by: PHOTOS COURTESY OF BRIDGETOWN COMEDY FESTIVAL - SEAN JORDANOriginally from Sioux Falls, S.D., Jordan is one of several comedians who notes Portland has become a comedy hotbed over the past several years.

“Stand-up has gotten bigger and bigger in the city, and just, in general, in the last five years, so I feel very blessed to be a part of it,” he says.

Like his peers, he says once you make a roomful of people laugh, it’s almost impossible to stop yourself from trying again. On the other hand, he admits it’s hard to sell himself, but he gives it a game try.

“From what I’ve been told, I have a very calm demeanor and am very relaxed on stage, which is a good thing,” Jordan says. “I can make a room feel comfortable. Also, I have a very colorful vocabulary, I guess you could say. ... All I’ve ever done is listen to rap and skateboard, so I talk like you would imagine a super white, rapping skateboarder might talk. Lastly, I have five testicles.”

Like all comedians, he’s had to deal with hecklers and urges those tempted to torment him to reconsider.

“Nobody ever bought a ticket to see a stand-up show thinking, ‘Boy, oh boy, I sure hope someone yells some dumb s**t out and messes up my good time that I spent my hard-earned money on,’” he says.

You can see Jordan at the Alhambra at 9 p.m. May 8; Analog at 11 p.m. May 10; and at the Hawthorne for Mary Mack’s North Star Comedy Hour & Meat Raffle at 8 p.m. May 11.

Kristine Levine

Redmond native Levine says she always wanted to be a comedian, but “was just a housewife with a s**t job at a porn store, what did I have to say? What the hell did I know? Nothing. That’s what I thought.”

However, she got up the guts to do an open mic, although she didn’t get on stage at first.

“I just sat outside in my car and cried because I was too chicken,” she says.

However, once she decided to be woman, hear her roar, she delved into her somewhat unorthodox past for material.

“All these people talking about relationships and airplanes and here I was talking about my fat kids and a porn store I worked at for almost 14 years,” she says. “I really thought I was alone and no one would ever care but me, but that’s not true. Comedy is like — it’s my call and response. I say something, and then they laugh — it’s how like creatures find one another. Like when a dog barks and another dog barks back.”

You can see Levine at Analog during the 11 p.m. show May 8, as well as the cafe show there from 9 to 10:30 p.m. May 9.

She urges everyone to check out the Portland Masters show, featuring a whole slew of local funny folk, at Analog 7 to 8:30 p.m. May 10.

She’ll participate in “Stand-Up Without a Net” at Doug Fir, 830 E. Burnside St., the same night. You also can see her at the Eagles Lodge closing show 10-11:30 p.m. May 11.

Amy Miller

Voted Portland’s No. 1 Comedian in 2013 by “a jury of her peers” and featured in the Willamette Week (Levine was voted fourth in the same poll), Miller also has produced comedy shows and can pinpoint the exact date she entered the world of funny — Sept. 2, 2010.

“What’s cool about me is I’m like a woman, but also smart, you know?” she says. “And not conventionally ‘hot’ or ‘young.’ It’s crazy.”

Known for her warmth both onstage and off, she’s gifted with a “soothing Rockwell-ian round face and body” and says no topic is off-limits when it comes to comedy, save one.

“I don’t like it when people tell jokes about me,” she says. “This is the primary reason I don’t sleep with comics anymore.”

You can hear Miller riff on her Oakland past and Portland present at the Hawthorne 9 p.m. May 8; Eagles Lodge at 11 p.m. May 9; and at the White Owl’s Brew Haha show at 10 p.m. May 10.


Portland quickly becoming comedy central

From traditional clubs to smaller venues, ample opportunities abound to find people who will make you laugh in Portland.

In fact, one could argue Portland is “it” in comedy right now. Just ask comedian Sean Jordan.

“I think it’s absolutely amazing right now,” he says of the scene. “Every now and again there’s a part of the country that stands out comedically, and I think we’re it right now. Places like Chicago, Minneapolis and Austin all have or have had the same thing. I love it, and I only see it improving and getting bigger.”

In fact, in a new study released by the University of Colorado Boulder, Portland was named as one of the top 10 funniest cities in America (We’re No. 5!!). Powell’s City of Books, 1005 W. Burnside St., in conjunction with the Bridgetown Comedy Festival, will host the authors of “The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 8.

“They found Boston residents balance high-brow intellectualism with drunken rowdiness, Washington, D.C., denizens find humor in the absurdities of our political system, and Portlanders are just plain weird,” the study says.

Anne Moe, owner’s assistant at Harvey’s Comedy Club, 436 N.W. Sixth Ave., says Portland has become better known in the comedy world, due, in part to such TV shows as “Portlandia.”

“People want to work here,” she says, adding her audiences would like to see more “adult” humor and more female comics.

Meanwhile, the Curious Comedy Theater, 5225 N.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., regularly offers sketch shows, improv classes and open mics.

Helium Comedy Club, 1510 S.E. Ninth Ave., is another popular venue. Marc Grossman, the club’s owner, says what’s changed in Portland over the years is not so much the audience as the options.

“The difference is that now those audiences have more options,” he says, adding that “alternative” comedians do well here.

All movers and shakers in the scene advise aspiring comics to sign up for open mics. You can find a list of them at pdxcomedyblog.com. Here’s a list of some comedy shows in town:

Sunday

• Comedy Every Sunday Forever, Chinese Village, 520 S.E. 82nd Ave. Produced by David Mascorro & Adam Pasi. 9 p.m.

• Funny Humans, Bar of the Gods, 4801 S.E. Hawthorne Ave. Produced by Dan Weber. 8:30 p.m.

• Control Yourself, Alberta Street Pub, 1035 N.E. Alberta St. Produced by JoAnn Schinderle. Showcase every first and third Sunday at 9 p.m.; open mic weekly at 10 p.m.

• Gator’s Comedy Showcase and Open Mic, Gator’s Tigard, 11475 S.W. Pacific Highway. Produced by Belinda Carroll. Open mic after the showcase, sign-up opens at 8 p.m.

Monday

• It’s Gonna Be Okay, Eastburn,1800 E. Burnside St. Produced by Barbara Holm. First and third week monthly, 8 p.m.

• Laugh Yer Ass Off, Starday Tavern, 6517 S.E. Foster Road. Produced by Matt Styner. 8 p.m.

Tuesday

• Firkin’ Funny Night, Firkin’ Tavern, 1937 S.E. 11th Ave. 9 p.m. Produced by Andrew Dhulst.

Wednesday

• Weekly Recurring Humor Night, Tonic Lounge, 3100 N.E. Sandy St. Produced by Whitney Streed. 9:30 p.m.

• Comedy at Crush, 1412 S.E. Morrison St. Produced by Belinda Carroll, third week of month, 9 p.m.

• Secret Weapon, Mississippi Pizza, 3552 N. Mississippi St. Produced by Christian Ricketts. Fourth Wednesday each month at 9:30 p.m.

Thursday

• No Pun Intendo, Ground Kontrol, 511 N.W. Couch St. Produced by Raishawn Wickshire. Third week each month at 9 p.m.

Friday

• Fly Ass Jokes, Comedy Bull, 7 on 7, Brody Theater, 16 N.W. Broadway St. Visit brodytheater.com for info.

• Friday Night Fights, Curious Comedy, 5225 N.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Produced by Jay Flewelling. First and third week each month at 10 p.m.

• Comedy Night at Eugenio’s/The Awkward Phase Story Show, Eugenio’s, 3584 S.E. Division St. Produced by David Mascorro and Adam Pasi. Every other week at 9 p.m.

• Funnier on the Inside, Tardis Room, 1214 N. Killingsworth St. Last Friday each month. Produced by Iris Gorman and Christen Manville. 9:30 p.m.

• It’s All Connected, Habesha Lounge, 801 N.E. Broadway St. Produced by Tim Ledwith. First Fridays at 9:30 p.m.

Saturday

• Mixology, 10 p.m. Curious Comedy. Produced by JoAnn Schinderle.

• Show Us Your Wits, first and third Saturdays monthly, Jack London Bar, 529 S.W. Fourth Ave. Produced by Charlene Conley and Andie Main.

• Just A Touch Of Class, The Copper Rooster, 5827 E. Burnside St. 9 p.m. second and fourth Saturdays monthly. Produced by Caitlin Weierhauser and Andy MacDonald.

• Proof Portland’s Funny, Proof, 3564 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd. 8-9 p.m.