- First, some footage of local up-and-comer Anthony Lopez I shot last week at Ian Karmel's Fly Ass Jokes showcase at the Brody Theater:

- After a grueling month the Portland Comedy Contest is nearing its end. It's down to five finalists: Don Frost, Gabe Dinger, Rico, Mike Coletta and Richie Stratton.

I went to Monday's show at the Boiler Room with the specific intent of getting some footage of Richard Bain. It hadn't occurred to me that he might not make the finals—I thought Rich was a smart-money favorite to run away with the whole damn thing.

Not so. To be sure, this contest is a gauntlet. It's been neck-and-neck all along. And in the midst of a month of shows in hole-in-the-wall bars from Gresham to Oregon City and God knows where else, one bad set can make all the difference, allowing a dogged but consistent comic to nudge ahead. From what I hear, that's what happened to Rich. Nonetheless, he's one of the absolute best comics in Portland, and one of the few I think with the talent to hit the big-time. Do it, man.

During the semi-finals last week I posted some video of Don Frost. In the finals on Monday, he straight killed. Though not quite able to match the fervent, chain-lightening spontaneity of Frost, Riche Stratton was a crowd favorite. That evening Frost took first with Stratton a close second.

There's a few out-of-Portland shows left this week before next Wednesday's final at Harvey's. Dates, schedules, and tickets to the final are available here.

- Arj Barker starts his weekend run at Helium tonight. I loved him as the know-nothing loudmouth Dave on "Flight of the Conchords." But the stand-up of Barker's I found online didn't quite hit that same high water mark.

- Otherwise, lots of exciting shows coming in the next few weeks, including Brent Weinbach and the first ever comedy showcase at Ground Kontrol—indeed, they got some talent lined up for that one. More as these shows approach.