An Open Micer’s Open Mic Review of Open Mics

IntoTheFrayI’ve only been doing stand up for a few years now, and I’m not too proud to admit that most the times I’ve performed it’s been at open mics. I’m still learning and that’s just how you do it; you go out, night after night, and do the work. Showcases might be the main event but it’s the open mics where all the work and training is done, where you can see the funny be created. So when Whitney asked for volunteers to do a write up of the local open mics I was more than happy to comply.
My plan was to try to get on every mic in a random week. I managed to get on all but three that occurred that week (two through miscommunication and another through (lack of) luck of the draw), and missed another two because the stages were being used for shows that week. What follows is really three sub posts: A quick break down of what to expect if you’d like to perform on a mic; an award for each mics I got on so you can know, as an audience member, what to look forward to; and lastly a brief summation of the few I didn’t manage to make.

Here’s the basic information:
*There are 11-14 mics you can get to in a week (some are every other week), with one at least every night except Saturday. They are located all over Portland, on both sides of the Portlandia divide.
*Most mics will allow people trying stand up for the first time to get on without any advanced warning but most would prefer sign up online (usually via Facebook) after that. If you’re going for your first time be sure and talk to the host to get more info about proper sign up procedures.
*Usually you’re given between 3 to 7 minutes to perform. Before your time is up the host will indicate that you need to wrap things up (usually by waving a phone or flashing a light). Respect the light; there are lots of other people looking to go up who all have to share the same stage and time. Most hosts will explain their personal procedures at the top of the show but don’t be afraid to ask them if you forget.
*Have fun. You’re there to make people laugh, not change the face of comedy or cure the world’s every woe, so have fun.

Open Mic Awards
For the mics I went to
Curious Comedy Theater
Best First Try Mic (tied), Only Improv Mic
5225 NE Martin Luther King Blvd
Portland, OR
Sundays, 8:00pm–10:30pm for stand up; 1st & 3rd Thursdays 8pm for improv
Hosted by Gabe Dinger (Stand-Up), Various Hosts (Improv)

Bar of the Gods
Most Funnest Mic (tied), Coolest Location
4801 SE Hawthorne
Portland, OR
Sunday, 8:00pm–11:30pm
Hosted by Nariko Ott

Boiler Room
Oldest Mic (10 years+), Mic You’re Most Likely to do Karaoke After (starts right after)
228 NW Davis Street
Portland, OR
Mondays, 9:00pm – 11:00pm
Hosted by Kevin-Michael Moore

The Real Comedy Spot At The Red Room
Funnest Mic(tied), Most Stage Time (8 min)
2530 NE 82nd Ave
Portland, OR
Mondays starting at 10:00pm
Hosted by Angela Olson & The Real Hyjinx

Funhouse Lounge
Most Crazy/Fun Mic, Mic You Want To Avoid The Most if You Have a Fear of Clowns(each room has at least a few of them)
2432 SE 11TH AVE
Portland OR
Tuesdays, 8:30pm ‘til it’s over; Wednesdays 7-9pm
Hosted by Anatoli Brant (Tuesday), varying hosts (Wednesday)

Open Mic at The Tonic Lounge
Most Supportive Mic, Best Fun Mic
3100 NE Sandy
Portland, OR
Wednesdays, Usually around 11 (depends on the showcase)
Hosted by Whitney Streed

Brody Theater
Best First Try Mic (tied)*, Most Theatre Feeling Mic
16 NW Broadway
Portland, OR
Wednesdays & Thursdays, 9:30pm – 11:30pm
Hosted by various comedians

Eagles Lodge “Let The Eagle Soar / Fly Like an Eagle” Open Mic
Most Newest Mic (this is it’s 4th week)/Most Unusual Location for a Mic4904 SE Hawthorne Boulevard
Portland, Oregon 97215
Most Fridays, 8pm
Hosted by Faddah Wolf

And the Rest Of the Story
For the mics I didn’t make it to

Joe Hieronymus ’ open mic at the 7 Corners Bar (2020 SE Division, Portland, OR) is on Sundays and starts at 10pm. He books rotating hosts, usually local working comedians, and has been a strong supporter of the community since he first started performing a few years ago. The mic is most notable for it’s workshop atmosphere, as new jokes, and new takes on jokes, are strongly encouraged. Really the only thing that’s discouraged is bigoted or hateful material. Sign ups are in person, although if you message him ahead of time and are double/triple-dipping (going to more than one mic in a night) he or the host is usually willing to save you a spot.

The Blue Monk (2020 SE Division, Portland, OR) is also hosted by a rotating roster of comedians booked by Shane Torres Mondays, starting at 8pm. If that name’s familiar to you, it’s probably because he was recently voted Portland’s Funniest Person in Helium Comedy Club’s competition. His hope is that the mic helps others work out, polish and better produce their material, and he would appreciate if you’re not an asshole while you do it. Message Shane for a spot (especially if you’re double/triple dipping) or sign up in person.

Following the awesomely named It’s Gonna Be Ok showcase, every 1st & 3rd Monday of the month, in The Eastburn (1800 E Burnside, Portland) is an open mic, which usually starts around 10. Both shows are hosted by Barbara Holm, a recent transplant to Portland. Barbara is known for being outspoken against material that encourages violence, rape and other negative, harmful, stereotypes. This is a great room for nurturing honest, heartfelt material, the kind of stuff that’s well written, and well intended. For more information, or to sign up message Barbara on Facebook.

Dante’s (350 W. Burnside, Portland, OR) open mic is hosted by local legend Richie Stratton, following Dr. Proof’s Whiz-bang Science Hour (more than an hour), a variety talk show. I recommend going to the show, enjoying it and signing up afterward, especially since after the show is when sign ups start. Everyone is given 5 minutes, and a few performers are rewarded with drink tickets after particularly good sets.

Ending this round up of Portland’s open mics would not be complete without mentioning Helium Comedy Club’s (1510 SE 9th Avenue) Tuesday night mic. Sign ups are in person, at 6pm. From the names of those who sign up performers are chosen (theoretically at random, although preference appears to be given to both first timers and comedians who’re working for the club that week), and the official list of performers is posted at 7:30, with the show starting at 8. The show is hosted by any number of regular performers. I personally recommend maybe not doing your first time at stand up here; the crowd is very welcoming, which can give you a false confidence in your skills, and if you don’t do well it may be awhile before you go up again. Still, I imagine there’s nothing like saying you killed it the first time you performed, and at the biggest club in town no less.

David Alan Grier at the Bagdad 5/17/13

David-Alan-Grier-1You might not know this, but you love David Alan Grier. Maybe it’s his energy and material, which is sharp, spontaneous and yet is distinctly one man’s voice. It might be his work ethic you admire, which after nearly three decades is strong as ever and shows no signs of slowing. It could be for his range as a performer, seeing as how he’s won awards for his work (both comedic and dramatic) in theater, on screen and as a writer and producer. No matter why, this Friday, May 17th, is a chance for you to let that love have an outlet and see the man some call DAG perform at McMenamins’ Bagdad Theater with host Tristan Spillman.

Spillman has been hosting Bagdad’s monthly comedy night for several years now, helping to produce literally hundreds of shows. An accomplished comedian and a respected figure in Portland’s comedy scene, his material ranges from the wacky to the mundane, and is delivered with a honed precision and such earnest heart that you can’t help but follow him down any path of whimsy he may guide. Not content to just be a stand up, he also produces a zine, which features local writers and artists, with each of his shows and has appeared in a number of internet clips.

The real amazing about each of these performers is that they’re great human beings as well amazing comedians. Tristan has used his position as the host of one of the premier venues in town to give a chance for the raising stars of Portland to find a launching pad for their careers. Locals legends like Ron Funches, Ian Karmel and even current reigning Portland’s Funniest Person Champion Nathan Brannon have all found themselves on the Bagdad’s stage, performing for crowds larger than they might of found before, in part from Spillman’s efforts. Brannon, who has opened for Grier (at a previous out of state show), said of him “He’s real personable. You would think, being famous for so long, he would be tired of talking to so many people, but he was very open. A great guy.”

So clear up your Friday, and catch a show I promise you’ll love. The doors open at 8, the show starts at 9 and tickets are only $25. As it’s a McMenamins location, there is food and drinks available for purchase, but it is a 21 and over event. For more information, and to purchase tickets, please visit the Bagdad’s site at

Your Alternative to Bridgetown Comedy Guide

So every year, for the last half a decade or so, every comic in the metro area, from the open mic level (our initiation rite) up to the world renowned veterans (seriously we have these here), get a little tingle in their spines as The Bridgetown Comedy Festival comes to Portland. Established comedians from across the country, nay the world, gather in our little city for a weekend of humor, mirth and calculated debauchery, that of course starts on a Thursday. It is a ton of fun and I highly recommend you go, if you can.
Sadly not all of us have the eighty bucks for a weekend pass just laying around, or the sitter can only come on Sunday, or the idea of seeing all those crowds is just too much. It’s fine, I understand and I’ve got you covered. Here are a few cheaper, one night, none festival showcases you might wanna give some attention to this week if you can.

• On Wednesday (which is sorta today) the lovely Belinda Carroll hosts her wonderful comedy showcase at the Crush Bar (1412 SE Morrison St), with this edition starring Alex Falcone, Mark Colletta, D’Emmanuel, Lauryn Pithie-Petrie, Jonas Barnes and all headlined by Todd Armstrong. As if that wasn’t enough, there is truth to the rumor that many comedians who are performing at Bridgetown this year are also gonna be swinging by to try some material out as well. They seat at 8, the show starts at 9, so it’s neither too early, nor too late an affair. Combine all that comfy seating, yummy food and good drinks and it’s a steal at just $5.

• The talented Scoot Herring host his appropriately named Fawesome: A Comedy Show this Thursday in the Hawthorne Hideaway (2221 Se Hawthorne Blvd). The doors open at 9, the show starts at 9:30 and not only are there drink specials but they keep the kitchen open all night long. It’s a donation based show, so you can pay what you want, but the performers (Nick Walker, Seth Milstein, Cody McCullar, and headliner Steven Wilbur) are all some of the hardest working comics you’ll ever meet with a wide variety of styles and would be well worth your time.

• For some weird reason April 20th has a bunch of shows in places that require you have some sort of membership or card to get into. One example of that is something called Doc’s 420 Hot Mess Thing, located at Doc’s (4229 SE 82nd Ave Ste B) where you will need to prove you’re at least 21 because at 9pm that night several comedians will be performing in a strip club. Hosted by Jamie Stewart it will feature performances by Josh Lay, Patrick Perkins*, Hilary Adams, Boomer, Rico Starr and be headlined by Big Jim Willig (of the Big & Loud Podcast). There is a $3 suggested donation but I don’t think anyone will complain if you want to put dollar bills on the stage for the performers too. There’s also going to be live music and I think at some point the strippers will end up back on stage.

• Lastly, chronologically, is Down & Dirty: A Dark Comedy Showcase on Sunday at 9 for only $5 in the Ash Street Saloon (225 SW Ash St). This monthly showcase, hosted by the feckless Patrick Perkins* with performances by Shades Mathison, Alex Rios, Michal Boxan, Jared Richard, Annie Box, Boomer, Bryce Jones and the ever busy Todd Armstrong, promises to be everything the name implies and more. Which is great, even if you’re into that kinda thing and even better if you are. This showcase isn’t for the easily offended but they’re welcomed too.

No matter if it’s a big festival show stuffed with established comedians, a smaller venue with local artist or even one of the major comedy clubs, this promises to be a great weekend for stand up comedy. I humbly, and completely biasedly, suggest you take the time to get out there and see a show this weekend. Because I’d hate to see you miss it.

*Full Disclosure; that is me.