Well cats, the E Room show last week was like a fucking riot. The room was packed and everybody killed. I have seriously fallen in lust with doing comedy in the Tomb. The wonderful folks at the Egyptian Club even dragged out a brick wall background that undoubtedly was created during the first comedy boom in the 80s. It is all fantastic. And not only did Just Out blog the shit out of the show (because Ryan Pardo is RADTASTIC), but the Mercury chose my little show as a Pick of the Week. (They said “burgeoning” again about the comedy scene people. Burgeoning!) We even made it into the paper version! Which I cannot sadly post here. Because it is paper. Anywho, the next show will be May 6 with a new cast of comedic characters and a new name, so plan to not miss it because you will be sad if you do!
And speaking of Just Out, I was profiled in their March 5 edition by the once again amazing Ryan Pardo. The article is wonderful and entirely too long. I babble a lot about comedy, Portland, and other things that I do not fully understand. The article is here on their website and I’m putting it here too. Posted twice because it’s so nice.
Stand Up Gals (and Guys)
Portland comic Whitney Streed and the new funny
By Ryan J. Prado
“I was going to be a history teacher,” says Whitney Streed as she fidgets with a bone-white straw, stirring a glass of lemonade at a table on the back patio/smoking alley of Northeast tavern Beulahland. February’s biting winds have been temporarily blocked by the saloon-y shelter, but still Streed seems to shiver; her eyes dart as she answers questions with the verbal velocity of the Micro Machines Man. …
Were it based solely on her reputation as one of Portland’s foremost emerging comedians, the knowledge that Streed’s day job consists of writing and editing textbooks online might surprise the nation’s collective academia. Streed’s particular brand of observational, grammar- and pun-pocked humor is as shifty and fun as it is heady and relevant. Her brain seems to process information quickly; her mannerisms blip with the staccato jerk of a cable modem.
Streed is part of a Portland renaissance of young comedians, despite having only been active on the scene for about a year. After moving from western Pennsylvania a year-and-a-half ago with friends, Streed found herself at the Boiler Room’s comedy open mic one evening in January 2009.
“I was like, ‘Oh I should try to go the Boiler Room sometime…’ and then by the end of the day I was like, ‘No, I should do it tonight, I should just go, do it, now. Go!’ explains Streed. “So I sat in the parking lot and wrote out a set list and went and got completely hammered. I mostly bombed but I had a couple of good moments, and people were very supportive of me immediately because I was marginally funny and I had this huge, flaming mohawk.”
Those good moments paved a resilient trail for Streed. She has since assumed a leadership-type position in the Portland comedy scene, hosting a monthly women’s and trans comedy open mic at Krakow Pub. She also recently debuted the burlesque/Bizzaro fiction/comedy hybrid variety show Naked Lobster at the Hawthorne Theatre Lounge.
Streed explains that after she was asked to host the closing show at Mt. Tabor Legacy during last year’s Bridgetown Comedy Festival—which featured headliner Janeane Garofalo—her local funny stock began to rise. Sort of.
“There were some older comics who were like, ‘Keep doing this, you’re good. Well, you’re gonna be good. You’re not good now, but keep doing this,’” says Streed.
Through regular appearances at Suki’s Bar and Grill’s open mics, along with occasional sets at the Brody Theater on Fridays, and Curious Comedy on Sundays, Streed’s trans-tangent one-liners and personal stories sample a resource not widely tapped in Portland’s comedy bubble.
Her forays into character-driven sets (Gladys Mann, a one-off drag character featured at last year’s Life’s Subtle Tease showcase; and Carrie Two-Term, daughter of an outspoken pro-life activist with a predilection for awkward abortion punchlines) only hint at the creative well lurking within Streed’s inner jester. She cites a unique camaraderie within the open mic scene, and a growing number of newcomers, as reasons for her enthusiasm.
“I really like the comedy scene here,” says Streed, staring off a bit, looking for the muse to continue. “I’ve watched it grow significantly even since I’ve started. There are all these local showcases now that there weren’t when I started. People are starting left and right, and lots of them only do it once or twice, and that’s what makes it a good scene. … It’s not really for everybody; it’s this weird, hard art. But to have a bunch of people try it, that means a new audience is coming out to see people who are consistently doing it. Then when someone does come along who’s like, ‘Oh this is it! This is what I’m supposed to be doing,’ then there’s a theme for them to go and keep working on it.”
Streed capitalized on the building momentum by starting the PDX Comedy Blog in December 2009. The blog is a forum for calendar listings like local open mics and special comedy events, but Streed hopes to include more content from other comedians and bloggers soon. “I wanna get it mixed up because I think the more people know individuals in the scene, the more they’re gonna go watch,” says Streed.
Streed acknowledges peers like Dax Jordan, Don Frost, Christian Ricketts, Jimmy Newstetter, and (Just Out advertising representative) Belinda Carroll—who will host a March 7 show in Streed’s absence (she has a gig in Seattle)—as positive influences in the burgeoning movement.
“Comedy is crazy right now in Portland,” states Streed. “I think it’s going to explode. It’s getting bigger and bigger, and in the next couple of months, Bridgetown is going to be huge, and then there’s gonna be this big burst of people right after Bridgetown.
“And it’s [in] hard times that people need comedy more. The point of comedy is to deal with things that make us uncomfortable, and if we’re so uncomfortable right now about so many things, it’s necessary… for the health of the city… for God’s sake.”
The Sunday, March 7 all-women’s and trans comedy show, hosted by Carroll and featuring headliners Nichole Turley and Jacki Kane, is at Krakow Café & Pub (3990 N. Interstate Ave.). Any women, lesbians or trans comics interested in performing are encouraged to contact Streed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on Portland’s comedy scene, and for links to local comedians, visit pdxcomedyblog.wordpress.com. The Bridgetown Comedy Festival takes over Portland April 22-25 at various locations. Check bridgetowncomedyfestival.com for updates.