I know, I know. It’s been days and days since the Bridgetown Comedy Festival wrapped up, but I needed that time to process the adventure. I saw so many shows over the course of the four-day run that some of it gets a bit fuzzy, so I had to storyboard my weekend and pick out my favorite all-around shows for you guys. First things first: I’m a Portland local and this is my fourth year at Bridgetown, my second year covering it for Laughspin, and this was my favorite Bridgetown thus far.
First show that stood out? The recording of Brett Gelman’s podcast, Gelmania. The Hawthorne Theater was the perfect spot for Gelman– and the crowd was rowdy, which I love. To my delight, the man next to me felt it was his role to respond to all of Brett’s statements and finish his jokes. What joy! Gelman had his Eagleheart co-start Maria Thayer (also an Oregon native) on the show, along with the show’s director and co-writer Jason Woliner; Delocated‘s Jon Glaser and Tim Heidecker also joined the fun.
Gelman’s first guest, though, was the amazing Kurt Braunohler. They did a segment called “How to Stay Friends For A Really Long Time.” It was magical. The two have awesome chemistry and their connection and pace made for an stellar start to the show. Daly also killed it with his talking Australian chorizo taco bit. I will never again be in a room where people yell “Does anyone know a taco doctor!?” I thank him for that.
Also on my list was The Benson Movie Interruption. Why, you ask? Because even though I’m pretty sure Doug Benson was asleep for the latter half of the film, we got to watch Con-Air with Matt Braunger, Kulap Vilaysack and Jimmy Dore. You guys, the movie totally holds up! Even with a bit of technical difficulties, it was an awesome show.
Before Con-Air started, there was a screening of a short starring Benson called Harold’s Bad Day. The little flick was directed by Jordan Brady, the creator of the critically-lauded comedy documentary I Am Comic. Benson held his own in the movie, portraying a high school teacher with a gambling problem, and if you have the opportunity to see it near you or at a festival, please do.
Last year I got to see the Lance Bangs Presents comedy showcase, so I felt the need to attend again this year, and it did not disappoint. Lance included Emily Heller, who is one of my new favorite comics (I also might want to be her best friend, I don’t know, it’s probably weird for her), and she blew the audience out of the water at the large Bagdad Theater. He also hosted Gelman, local legend and national up-and-comer Ron Funches, the super versatile comedian and actress Mary Lynn Rajskub and Pete Holmes. As usual, Bangs showed us some previously unreleased clips from his projects, and though the show ran super long, it was well worth our time.
The Delocated Witness Protection Program Variety Show brought me immense joy, even though it started an hour late (thanks to the Bangs show). The audience had been waiting outside forever, but they didn’t care because as soon as Jon Glaser and his short shorts emerged, all was right with the world. Amy Schumer had a great set, as did Braunohler and Todd Barry.
I had to visit the Portlandia Players show on Sunday afternoon out of pure loyalty. A lot of local comics hit the stage and killed, as did a few of the comics who started out here and have left us for greener pastures (aka Los Angeles and Chicago). I also had a chance to see a primetime show that featured Kate Berlant, who I immediately fell in love with. Her material is slightly uncomfortable and yet strangely relatable. She’s now officially on my list of comics to watch/attempt to see again.
Later that night, I visited the intimate Eagles Lodge for Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction, which might be one of my favorite comedy shows I’ve ever taken in. Period. This show is normally based in Seattle and hosted by the lovely Bryan Cook with half of the comics writing pieces ahead of time while another group gets their topic as the show begins and then they write feverishly in the back. Some of my favorites such as Rylee Newton and Adam Cayton-Holland hit the stage with original sex-fueled fiction that haunts my dreams. Portland comic Ian Karmel’s 30 Rock piece has ruined my life and Heller’s Law & Order: SVU piece still makes me giggle uncontrollably.
Aparna Nancherla won the whole thing with her tale of sexual awakening starring Dora the Explorer, written in just an hour. If you have a chance to see this in Seattle, or if Cook takes it to a festival near you, go to there!
Why was this year my favorite? I don’t know exactly. The energy was great, the comics I saw were brought their A-game and the audiences (though occasionally douchebag-filled) were engaged. I love that our city has such an awesome comedy scene, which is growing massively every year– not to mention, it’s amazing that we can see headliners at this festival who may not have swung through PDX for any other reason. We’re not just food carts and ironic mustaches anymore. See you next year, kids. I’ll be sleeping until then.
PS: Here’s a few photos I snapped. Hover over each pic for their names, if you don’t know them, already. (Click each thumbnail to enlarge). Fun!