Ryan Alexander-Tanner

This last Friday I got to fulfill my lifelong dream of performing stand-up comedy in the dimly lit auditorium of a long abandoned high school. It didn’t go quite how I planned. I’d always hoped it’d be kind of a Phantom of the Opera situation where the beauty of my stand-up comedy both haunts and beguiles a gorgeous young woman—and also I own a boat, and also I live in a basement. Instead, the auditorium had been refurbished, and it was a legit performance space called Revolution Hall, and not “...you mean that old high school across the river? Why, nobody has been in there for years. Though, some say if you listen at night, you can hear an overweight Jewish man’s hyperbolized observations.”

The very next evening, I got to perform on the roof of that regrettably-not-haunted high school. It was fly as hell and I’m bummed you (statistically if you’re reading this) missed it. The view was breathtaking, sincerely, it was one of those sunsets that looked like a third grade girl’s Lisa Frank binder, but like, both of her parents are doctors. Like, she has access to super ritzy Lisa Frank binders.

The sky was glowing. It was apocalyptic beautiful. I’d never been upstaged by the view before, but it happened that night, and it was perfect. Not just because I’m a sucker for a view, but because it was COINCIDENTALLY almost exactly seven years since I’d started doing stand-up comedy. And which, also coincidentally, happened for the first time down the street at an open mic at a bar called the Tonic Lounge, which then got reality TV’d into the Panic Room.

This is now going to get schmaltzy and also full of lamentation. I feel so lucky to have started doing comedy in Portland, especially when I started. I made some of my best friends through comedy, and I got to watch some of those best friends become bonafide professional comedians. A huge part of that, huger (what a dumb word huger is) than some of us are even able to admit, is the support we received from the city of Portland. You. Y’all. You’ns. Thank you. Now the lamentation.

They’re closing the fucking Boiler Room! (See News, pg 7.) The bar that hosts Portland’s longest running comedy open mic night. One of the longest running comedy open mics in the country. It fucking sucks and this kind of shit is happening more and more. Performance venues are shuttering to make room for development, and I totally understand why it’s happening but... The Boiler Room, Imago Theater, Slabtown (I know I’m leaving a bunch out)—all in the last year. I don’t know if anything can be done, or even if something should be done, but we’re losing the landmarks of our recent cultural heritage.

As I stood on that roof I was filled with joy and overcome by how grateful I felt, but I was also gazing at all the places that helped me get onto that roof—many of them gone forever, never again to be haunted by the hyperbolized observations of an overweight Jew.