Last spring, in the debut show from sketch comedy duo the Aces, McLendon's most indelible character was a barn owl. She channeled a predator's single-minded focus, flapping into walls as she tried to escape her well-meaning captor, played by Aces co-conspirator Michael Fetters. It was the most memorable character in a sketch show rooted in well-observed characters—a knack for capturing the nuances of human (and bird!) behavior is a hallmark of the Aces' comedic brand.

This weekend, the Aces present two encore performances of their popular sketch show. But their return promises more than just another chance to see Portland's best raptor impression: McLendon runs Bad Reputation Productions—best known for Road House: The Play! and this weekend's Aces performance marks the debut installment of Slingshot, a new comedy partnership between Bad Reputation and Portland Center Stage that will bring comedy shows to PCS every few months. We spoke with McLendon about what audiences can expect from the pairing, and how she hopes this partnership will put Portland on the national comedy map.


MERCURY: What inspired this partnership with PCS?

SHELLEY McLENDON: A few things inspired me to approach PCS with the idea of Slingshot. Bad Reputation Productions staged a run of Road House: The Play! at PCS back in 2011, and we had a great experience. This year, I was looking for a way to put up a regular show that offered all types of theatrical comedy at a theater with a great reputation. PCS was a natural fit. Portland has a lot of great things going for it comedically right now, and I wanted to be a part of taking it to the next level and putting Portland on the same comedy map as Chicago, New York, LA, and San Francisco. When I approached PCS with the idea of Slingshot, they said yes! We both want to create a show that when you hear the name, you know you are going to get great comedy.


Can you provide any more info as to what future shows might look like?

Each installation is going to be different—from sketch comedy to improv to short films to whatever else is funny and smart—but I am really hoping to expand beyond that. This is where the "theatrical comedy" description comes in. Slingshot shows don't have to fall in the traditional comedy categories—what that means for future shows is yet to be determined. But, for example, I'm really hoping that Slingshot will be able to stage a version of Scarface with a cast entirely made up of cats. So, someone out there needs to figure out how to do that and get in touch with me. The next Slingshot will be in late March and will be supergreat improv.


Will you be bringing in any out-of-town performers or partnering with any other local comedy organizations?

Yes to both. I am the main curator for Slingshot, and my goal is to bring only the best, smartest, funniest, and raddest stuff to the stage. So if those shows come from Portland or elsewhere, then I look forward to working with them.


What do you hope will come out of this partnership?

I would love for Slingshot to become a show that provides a place for people who do great comedy to get a great audience, and for audiences to know that when Slingshot comes around, you don't even question it, you go to it.