Portland’s longest-running comedy open mic has finally hit the double digits, and they’re celebrating with a show that features some of Portland’s favorite local comics — many of whom got their start right there on the Boiler Room stage.
In 2002, host Kevin-Michael Moore was performing with local sketch comedy troupe The 3rd Floor. “I had just branched into stand-up,” he says, “and was romanced by the community.” At the time, there was one weekly open mic, at Roscoe’s. “The comedy scene was growing too big for just one open mic,” he says, “So I started the show.”
The first show was on March 4, 2002—not coincidentally, Moore’s birthday. “The Boiler Room had just opened, and the city was just beginning the slow recovery process after 9/11,” he says. “The bar was located in the less shiny, pre-Pearl Old Town.”
The first few years were a struggle as both the venue and the event worked to get established. “For years,” Moore says, “I’m sure that the only reason the show kept on is that those 10-15 people who came on Mondays kept the bar open on Mondays.”
Then it actually got worse.
“Then,” Moore says, “Vera Katz encased all of the buildings in scaffolding and construction, under the guise of ‘earthquaking.’ The Boiler Room’s entire Third Street side was boarded over. You wouldn’t have known a bar was there unless someone told you.”
A lot of businesses didn’t survive that conversion, Moore says. “But somehow, we did, and Old Town changed.” Finally, the bar had foot traffic and business stabilized.
The show’s format has grown and changed over the years. It started as “an absolutely ‘open’ mic,” Moore says, “meaning if you showed up you could perform for as much or little time as you (or the audience) wanted.” Eventually he added time limits and a cap on the number of performers.
“Instead of an abysmally long show,” he says, “which can be more of an ordeal than entertainment, I streamlined it to a tight two-hour evening.” It’s still an open mic, but now he takes reservations on his Facebook page, rotates in brand-new performers, and offers shorter spots to people who just show up.
Tonight’s performers include mainstays of the Portland comedy scene, including Anthony Lopez, Kristine Levine, Ian Karmel, Jimmy Newstetter, Gabe Dinger, Jessie McCoy, Shane Torres, Whitney Streed, Shawn Fleek, Richie Stratton, Jim Willig, Ron Osbourne, Don Frost, Lonnie Bruhn, Dwight Slade, Phil Schallberger, and Christian Ricketts. There will undoubtedly be some surprises, so head down and check it out.
The show starts at 9pm, with doors at 8. Here are the details. It’ll be crowded, so get there early, ok?