THE NEXT LAUGH
"You know what really gets my goat?" asks Virginia Jones. "Wolves."
Pause … hope … laughter.
In the suspenseful lifestyle of casting one-liners for yuks (and bucks), Jones is one of a growing cabal of local weekend warriors tackling stand-up comedy—and, sometimes, slowly, starting to shape their work schedules around the gigs rather than vice versa.
"The great thing about stand-up," she asserts, "is that you can work and hone until you get it just right … It’s completely unlike brain surgery." Pause … hope …
On September 4, Jones will perform in the Grand Dames of Comedy showcase at Hawthorne Theatre and host two open-mic nights for Curious Comedy Theater, Portland’s first and only nonprofit comedy group.
"There’s a lot of new energy," Jones says, noting the three-year-old Bridgetown Comedy Festival’s importing of such nationally acclaimed acts as Patton Oswalt and Janeane Garofalo and the opening of city’s first comedy chain franchise, Helium, which lifted off this summer.
Why the sudden P-town laugh riot? Is it our coping mechanism for rising unemployment? Indie-rock fatigue? Jones calls it a perfect storm of rising national interest (e.g., the reality show Last Comic Standing), plus the growing chops of locals like Richard Bain, Christian Ricketts, and Marcia Belsky.
"There’s all this hungry talent," she says. "They book anywhere they can—old-man bars, Thai restaurants—just to some get mic time."
"When I started doing showcases, going to comedy was only slightly less hip than going to a funeral," Jones adds, without pause but with plenty of hope. "I think now it’s starting to explode." —AA
SHOWS TO KNOW
CURIOUS COMEDY THEATER’S COMEDY ROULETTE
Oct 8-23, Nov 6-20 A small cast of improvisational cutups including Stacey Hallal, Bob Ladewig, Virginia Jones, and Josh Fisher will redirect their comedy sketches and prepared material based on whatever the audience wants to see. Can we handle that much responsibility? Curious Comedy Theater, 5225 NE MLK Jr. Blvd. 503-477-9477. curiouscomedy.org
GREAT DAMES OF COMEDY
Sept 4 at 8 A slew of she-larious locals storm the stage in (presumably) diamonds, feathers, and big hats for a little X-chromosome humor. Picture the rowdy gals and quiet introverts from your high school all grown up and cracking wise. Belinda Carroll hosts. $5. Hawthorne Theatre Lounge, 3862 SE Hawthorne Blvd. 503-233-7100. hawthornetheater.com
Sept 9-11 The dapper Proops is a versatile comic best known as one of the performers on the American version of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, a show that required him to slip in and out of multiple characters, Zelig-like, for laughs. Targets include Christian psychos, gun-toting rednecks, and, the root of it all, our nation’s City-on-a-Hill Puritan heritage. Helium Comedy Club, 1510 SE Ninth Ave. portland.heliumcomedy.com —JC