Now in its ninth year, everyone knows Bridgetown Comedy Festival attracts some of the greatest talent from all reaches of the comedy stratosphere. But instead of just naming the headliners— An Evening with Amy Mann and Ted Leo (WHAT), John Michael Higgins, Steve Agee, Oscar Nunez, the Golden Globe and Critic’s Choice Award winning comedian Rachel Bloom – here are the faces and shows that gave us a jolt to the funny bits when we scrolled past their name. We promise, stick with this list, and you will never be without laughter again.
There’s a good chance we’re still high on Grace and Frankie, the Netflix original series on which Vaughn currently stars as Bud. A dynamic and authentic performer both on screen and stage, he created The New Negroes, a stand-up showcase described as “…A world where alternative comedians are black and black comedians do alternative comedy. Have you fallen down a rabbit hole entering a world of mayhem and absurdity? No. You’ve just found yourself in 2016 where black people are actively redefining ‘black people.’”
Vaughn has also guest starred on HBO’s Girls and will be the new voice of Tom Servo in the upcoming incarnation of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Now if that isn’t range, we don’t know what is.
Kill Rock Stars Presents
The coolest show at this year’s Bridgetown is guaranteed to also be the greatest. Since jumping into the comedy ring with Kurt Braunohler’s album How Do I Land? in 2012, KRS has become a rising star in comedy. This year’s installment of Kill Rock Stars Presents will feature local favorite Amy Miller, Nathan Brannon, and Rhea Butcher, who will be releasing her album with the label later this year. There will also be a performance by Seattle-based punk band Wimps because KRS wouldn’t have it any other way.
At this point we should be able to simply say QUINCY JONES and drop the mic, confident that everyone knows the difference between the legendary producer and the 32-year old comic. But if you’re unfamiliar, Jones is someone who challenged himself and successfully performed 1000 shows in a year. His viral Kickstarter campaign recently landed him on The Ellen DeGeneres Show where Ellen implored HBO to give him his own special. He’s since proven that dreams really do come true as his special, Burning The Light, premieres on June 2nd. The title comes from the term used when comics go over their allotted time, something with which the comedian is familiar, diagnosed with terminal cancer and given a year to live last August.
The last time I checked in on Emma Willman, after only a year and a half doing stand-up, she’d already blown the proverbial roof off the Boston comedy scene and moved on to headlining a sold-out show at the New York Comedy Festival in 2014. Since then Willman has been featured in Montreal’s Just for Laughs Festival and been named “funniest” by both Time Out New York and GO Magazine. What’s better? Her new podcast on Raw Dog Comedy SiriusXM 99, The Check Spot, gives airtime to brand new comics. Basically she’s irreverent and hilarious and YES, please, and MORE.
Guy Branum’s Gay Bash
Guy Branum is a writer and comedian best known for serving as “Staff Homosexual” on Chelsea Lately. That should be all you need to know in regards to Guy Branum’s Gay Bash, a Bridgetown line-up on which he plans to gather all of his favorite LGBT comedians. Maybe you need to know a few other things, like his writing for Billy on the Street, or his recurring segment “No More Mr. Nice Gay” on Totally Biased with W. Kumau Bell, and of course his writing for The Mindy Project. What that should tell you is that this show is slated to be fabulous.
Joe Pera’s comedy can best be described as dad jokes strung together in a gentle and deliberate manner, delivered slower than you could ever expect to be comfortable. So slowly in fact that he made a soothing sleep-aid video for Adult Swim. Which is exactly his brilliance. On a recent appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers, while his “tight five” was anything but, he managed to win over an often times tough late-night crowd. Last fall he was named one of Comedy Central’s ‘Comics To Watch’. Do that, KEEP WATCHING.
Amy Miller may be best known from the most recent season of Last Comic Standing, but the genuine and devastatingly frank Portland-based comedian had already been named “funniest” by nearly every outlet in Portland. She’ll be in the upcoming Viceland show Flophouse, a series that follows the lives of up-and-coming comedians at underground stand-up events. Her show at Bridgetown, Stand-Up For Yourself! With Amy Miller, is described as “the first hybrid stand-up comedy and therapy morning talk show that happens at night,” and I guarantee it is not to be missed.
Lance Bangs Presents: Come Laugh With Us
There are a selling points to living in the PNW, trees in lieu of skyscrapers, temperate weather, everything as seen on Portlandia, and also institutions like Lance Bangs, a legend in both our comedy and music scene. He’s directed countless music videos and comedy specials as well as the David Cross film Let America Laugh and, most recently, Viceland’s Flophouse. His Bridgetown show, Come Laugh With Us, including Kyle Mooney, Jonah Ray, Moshe Kasher, and The Thermals, is sure to be an amalgamation of all of the above. And brilliant.
Bridgetown Comedy Festival is June 1st – 5th in Portland, Oregon. Tickets and festival passes are available at BridgetownComedy.com.