Holy Cow, Wednesday’s “Secret Weapon” at Mississippi Pizza is Worth Seeing

Hey, random internet stranger. Looking for something hella positive, astounding and innovative to do on Wednesday night in the inner North Portland area? Why not plunk down some pay-what-you-will-and-hopefully-that’s-five-dollars and check out Secret Weapon, which has been running for a few months and consistently turns out a great group of comedians for a pretty awesome good time?

Here is the event listing on the Portland Mercury website.

The brainchild of the incomparable Andie Main and the often-incorrectly-compared Christian Ricketts, Secret Weapon at Mississippi Pizza turns the intimate side-stage of a pizza place with excellent drinks (try the whiskey ginger — it contains actual ingredients the title implies) into a boozy old-school comedy club. In an earlier decade this space could easily have been a smoky kind of vaudeville venue, but thanks to the liberal Nazi anti smoking regimes of the last few years it is now less cancerous and more pizzaliscious. Thanks, Obama.

The price is right for your recession woes and the comedy line up for this installment of the every-last-Wednesday showcase is stellar.

In addition to the aforementioned hosts and collaborators, you get to see the sexpot song stylings of Delaney and Paris, recently seen opening. You get the now-officially-ruined-by-Vine-fame Steven Wilber (seriously though his Vine is why you should get Vine. And never post because he will still beat you.) You will get the Frank Zappa of Portland Comedy, Nariko Ott, fresh off of injuring his thumb while pulling his pants down at a comedy show (ROCK AND ROLL etc). And your headliner for the evening is Anthony Lopez, a regular host at Helium Comedy Club with a heart of gold and more swag than a Nike store.

It’s gonna be tremendous, you can’t beat the price, and since this edition is named Holy Cow This Show is Going to be Hilarious you can be assured that a bovine will be sacrificed on the altar of comedy.

secretweaponSecret Weapon at Mississippi Pizza
Wednesday September 25th at 9:30pm – $5

Contribute To John Breen’s Film “Crook County War” – A Comedy-Action Feature

John BreenJohn Breen is a big name in the improv and theater worlds. His improv comedy workshops are the stuff of legend, and his writing is acclaimed across Portland and around the US. So when he tells you that he’s ready and eager to direct “Crook County War,” his first feature length film, you can believe that it’s true.

There are just 14 days left for Breen’s project to reach its goal, and every contribution will help make this very funny script with a very funny cast into a very funny reality. Check out the Indiegogo campaign page, watch the movie, and if you chuckle even once, throw a $20 their way (or a $2000 if you’re able) and feel good supporting local art by local artists that will serve to elevate Portland even further as a mecca for top-notch comedy.

More information about the project available at http://crookcountywar.com/

7/12 & 7/13 – “State Fair of the Union” at Curious Comedy – Closing Weekend

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(Full disclosure: the author works and perform at the Curious Comedy Theater, but was not paid for nor instructed in writing this article.)

The second sketch in Curious Comedy Theater’s much-beloved “State Fair of the Union” is a nice analogue to the feel of the show.

“NEW!” shouts a pitchman, wearing what looks like a bio-hazard suit with a light-up children’s toy attached to the head.

“IT’S NEW!” shouts another, dressed identically.

This is the one of several scenes which make reference to a running gag in the show, a product for sale in this fictional world that is abominable and hilarious. The scene makes nearly no sense when it starts, and barely any more sense by the time it’s over, but it’s fucking hilarious, and it makes you think critically about modernity without being heavy-handed. The show isn’t all this surrealist, but many scenes are quite absurd, and play freely with reality. When the punchlines are just a tiny bit obvious, it’s only because the payoff when they land as intended is huge.

The performance is themed around television and consumer-culture, and between each scene a projector displays clips of TV shows and some static, as though the entire production were a viewer flipping through the channels, always returning to “Good Morning Portland,” an obnoxiously happy-go-lucky morning show whose female lead does a stunningly pitch-perfect Kathy Lee Gifford-meets-Hoda-meets-a pile of cocaine-meets-a horny housewife. She’s more than funny enough to forgive her laugh and chaotic, blissed-out energy, once the audience realizes that this is an actress, Katie Michels, whose versatility and ability to play muted characters shines in other scenes. Then, they’re in on the joke and she keeps the high-caffeine antics rolling, tying the show together beautifully.

Another great feature to the show is the original music that’s recorded and performed, and the technical program with many lighting and sound cues which after opening night has been executed perfectly. It is nice to see the Curious Comedy Playaz, the house ensemble, using the full breadth of their musical and singing talent in conjunction with all the facilities of the theater to make an engrossing and enjoyable comedy.

I’ve attempted not to ruin any punchlines in this two-hour show, which is hard to do because just one might be enticing enough to get you to go see this, the closing weekend of “State Fair of the Union.” I’ll save the yuks for the players, as the ensemble is incredible and deserves your attentive laughter. The highlight performer for me is the always-outstanding Sam De Roest as “sunny outlook weatherman Dwayne Peters.” A talented actor and improviser, Sam’s main role, and a “bad cop” character he plays in one short scene, are the kind of comedic performances for which people throw roses. Curious Comedy mainstay Gabe Dinger has a memorable performance as a cooking show host, and Katie Behrens turns in solid supporting roles so consistently that this show would be lost without her. Leon Anderson and Josh Stenseth round out the cast in a recurring sketch with a Moldy Peaches-inspired theme song. The sketch confuses some audiences, and makes others howl, but it’s just one more flip of the dial in a show made up of tiny shows, each one written masterfully.

Directed by Stacey Hallal with co-director Bill McKinley, written by the performers and a team of the city’s best comedic writers, with several understudies performing when the actors have been away, State Fair of the Union closes this weekend at Curious Comedy Theater. Buy tickets at www.curiouscomedy.org. Friday and Saturday, 8pm-10pm (with a free show afterward), $15. Curious Comedy Theater 5225 NE MLK Jr. Blvd.