It’s that time of year again, when people take a break from laughing at Portland just long enough to laugh along with it at Bridgetown Comedy Fest. Having played host to the fest for the past seven years, Portland’s own comedy scene has continued to see a boom, in no small part because of Bridgetown and comedians like Ian Karmel and Ron Funches putting it on the map. It’s also because of open-minded audiences, local pride and a wealth of innovative minds.
One of those comedy innovators is Kristine Levine. A regular on IFC’s Portlandia, a porn clerk and a disarmingly honest comedian reminiscent of Roseanne Barr, Kristine is convinced there would be no Portlandia if not for Bridgetown. “This festival has given us and the talent in this city a visibility that we never have had before,” she explains. “We knew that Portland was to comedy what Seattle was to music, we just needed someone to pay attention. Andy Wood and Matt Braunger gave us that. We indulge, encourage and even support everything weird.”
No stranger to the comedy scene, Kristine thinks the amount of women in Bridgetown is a true reflection of how many women are in comedy. “It’s always been a numbers game. There are just fewer of us then there are men.”
In regards to whether the argument further enables the division, she remains torn. “I have never really been a part of the “female comedy” scene,” she explains, “I just wanted to be a comedian. We don’t say, ‘He’s a great male comedian…’ because that’s the industry standard, the default setting. I’ve really just tried to carve out a place for me as a comedian first, and a woman second, maybe even third or never mentioned at all. I am now more likely to participate in women only shows than I was in the past. I’m very proud to be doing the ‘All Jane No Dick’ show at Bridgetown.”
As for other favorites at this year’s fest, she is among the majority who are beyond excited to see Emo Phillips on the line-up. Remembering the first time she saw him on HBO, at the tender age of 12 she explains, “He was so interesting, I was drawn to the way he talked and his look, and THEN the things he said! I remember watching him and thinking, ‘I GET IT! I GET IT!’ Like I was alive. And this year I’m on the Set List show with him, I hope I don’t freak out. I’m not much of a fan of anyone, most comedians are just peers to me. But Emo is a hero and I never dreamed I’d get to see him in person.”
Kristine is one of the most unique voices of comedy, and it is in your best interest to catch her live. If that’s not in the cards, she’s planning on recording a comedy album in the near future. “I think it’s time to release all this material I’ve been hoarding for 15 years and let it go. So I’m excited for that. Empty hands catch new blessings. “
See her at Bridgetown on Friday at “Analog Café Primetime”, Saturday at “Portland Masters” and “Set List: Stand-Up Without a Net” and the “Sizzle Pie Stage” at the “Eagles Lodge Closing Show” on Sunday. Find her @KristineLevine