Who'd have ever thought that Portland, land of the humorless fluoride-haters and reservoir-freeing protestors, would become this amazing place for comedy?
In the last few years we've seen Portland's stand-up scene take off. The improv scene isn't far behind it, and now we've got local comedy theaters putting out totally solid sketch comedy shows, too. Check you out, Portland comedy scene, getting all legitimate and worthy of recognition!
Last weekend, the Brody Theater launched their first-ever sketch comedy show, "How to Age Disgracefully," directed and produced by Caitlin Kunkel. Kunkel moved here from Chicago last year with a pile of comedy credits to her name, most notably that she's on the faculty at Chicago's Second City Training Center—kind of the Ground Zero for the comedy explosion of the 1990s and 2000s.
Kunkel's been teaching a sketch comedy workshop at the Brody, and also done some work with Curious Comedy Theater. Which is helmed by another Second City veteran, Stacey Hallal. Apparently, Portland is an incredibly good habitat for funny women from Chicago.
The show, written by a team of 11 people including a few of the show's performers, is a fast-paced collection of very loosely interconnected scenes. Following the Second City model, all of the scenes stand alone but some of the characters reappear throughout the show, and build a short narrative that follows the arc of the show. Short, poppy little "runner" scenes keep things moving, and most of the longer scenes build to a laugh that's worth waiting for. Some highlights include "Communion," in which Portland's over-the-top food scene becomes a religious experience, and a couple of ads for supernatural pharmaceutical products.
It's great to see Portland's comedy scene continue to grow and diversify. We have a lot of talent in this town, and it's about time we got to start seeing more of it.