Last night, I was trying to convince some friends to attend Bridgetown, and hitting some resistance—one friend didn't want to spend $80 on a weekend pass, while another self-described comedy fan argued that "50% of live comedy is bad."
Legitimate concerns, in both cases. The big shows at Bridgetown are priced high, so that $80 pass starts to make sense if you're planning to see more than a couple of shows (plus, $20 a day really isn't bad at all, for festival prices), but it's still a lot if you're on a tight budget. The best argument for shelling out for a pass is my second friend's concern: I won't argue that there isn't the comedy equivalent of "opening bands," comics you just don't think are funny or don't care about, and the nature of the comedy experience means you can't talk through their set, or go hang out at the bar and wait it out, in the same way you can if you're seeing live music. You just have to sit there and hate it, and it can be pretty awful. The best argument for spending money on a Bridgetown pass is that it gives you the freedom to leave when you want to, without feeling like you have to say at a show to get your money's worth. It makes the whole experience a helluva lot more fun if you have the freedom to cut your losses and take off whenever you don't feel like staying at a club anymore.
Okay, that's my spiel. The festival starts tonight; here are my picks for tonight's best shows.
You can be forgiven some skepticism about the premise, but there's no arguing with this lineup of comics who are all, apparently, very good at Twitter: Robert Popper, Peter Serafinowicz, Matt Braunger, Baron Vaughn, Megan Amram.... White Owl Social Club, 1305 SE 8th, 7 pm, $15
All Jane No Dick
The great Portland comedy fest dedicated to female comics gets its own stage, headlined by the preposterously charming Alice Wetterlund. Eagles Lodge, 4904 SE Hawthorne, 8 pm, $15
Lance Bangs Presents: Come Laugh with Us
Local director Lance Bangs has impeccable taste and lots of cool friends (he's currently directing Marc Maron's new stand-up special in New York). Come Laugh with Us is Bangs' showcase of some of his favorite stand-ups (like Moshe Kasher, Howard Kremer, and Emily Heller), plus clips from his own collection of rare and unreleased comedy footage. Basically, it's a chance to spend a whole evening cradled in the loving curatorial embrace of one of Portland's most diehard comedy nerds. Bagdad Theater, 3702 SE Hawthorne, 10 pm, $25