Portland's comedy scene has changed considerably since the Bridgetown Comedy festival launched in 2008. Now we've got a legitimate comedy venue in Helium, at least one or two great touring comics swing by every month, and every bar in town seems to have a local comedy showcase. There are plenty of reasons for this—hardworking local comics, pop culture's renewed interest in standup—but the Bridgetown Comedy Fest deserves a slice of the credit for helping stir excitement and visibility around comedy in Portland.

Plus, it's just FUN—bouncing around the east end of Hawthorne, catching shows at the Eagles Lodge and the Hawthorne Theatre and the Tanker. I look forward to Bridgetown more than just about anything else on the annual arts calendar. This year's fest runs April 18-21; tickets go on sale around noon today, along with the official release of the lineup, but organizer Andy Wood was kind enough to give us a sneak peek at this year's headliners. Featured performers include:

• Comedian and longtime Simpsons writer Dana Gould

• Comedian/musician/genius Reggie Watts, who packed the Crystal Ballroom at his last Portland show—hopefully Bridgetown will offer a chance to see him in some more intimate venues. (Like those TBA:07 shows at the Someday Lounge... sigh.)

Robert Popper and Peter Serafinowicz—Creators of the hilarious short film series Look Around You. (Watch the pilot. It's about calcium! You might learn a thing or two about TEETH. But probably not.)

Returning comedians include Todd Glass, Moshe Kasher, Kurt Braunohler, and Baron Vaughn, any of whom I would cheerfully pay $10 to see right this second. (Moshe Kasher, in particular, is going to own the hearts and minds of Portland one of these days.) Throw in former SNL writer/performer Laura Kightlinger and Mr. Show's Karen Kilgariff, and that's already a helluva lineup.

In addition to standups, there's podcasts Who Charted? and Walking the Room; Bryan Cook's Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction, which debuted at Bridgetwon last year; and Samantha Varela's "Picture This," which brings together comedians, illustrators, and animators. (Fingers crossed we'll get some of Portland's comics talent on board...)

Also, a special Blogtown congratulations to Mercury contributors Ian Karmel and Alex Falcone for snagging spots in the fest. Good work, gentlemen!

Hit the jump for the full press release—and you can buy tickets here. The complete lineup of performers is here.

PORTLAND, ORE.—The sixth annual Bridgetown Comedy Festival will be held April 18–21 in venues centered around Hawthorne Boulevard. Weekend passes, priced at $79, are on sale now at www.bridgetowncomedy.com, with an additional $10 pre-sale discount available through March 27th.
Featured performers at this year’s festival include alternative comedy legend and longtime Simpsons writer/producer Dana Gould, the incomparable musician/comedian Reggie Watts (Conan, Comedy Bang! Bang!, Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell), and creators of the BBC cult comedy hit Look Around You Peter Serafinowicz and Robert Popper. Additionally, comics Greg Behrendt and Dave Anthony will bring their popular podcast “Walking the Room” to Bridgetown for the first time.

Acclaimed performers making a Bridgetown debut include Karen Kilgariff (Mr. Show), Julian McCullough (Love You, Mean It; Late Night with Jimmy Fallon), Laura Kightlinger (Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show), Blaine Capatch (Comedians of Comedy, Web Soup), Christian Duguay (MadTV, Ridiculousness), Seth Herzog (Chappelle's Show, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon), and Jermaine Fowler (The Eric Andre Show).

Renowned comedians returning to Bridgetown in 2013 include Moshe Kasher, Todd Glass, Myq Kaplan, Baron Vaughn, Chris Fairbanks, Matt Kirshen, David Angelo, Kurt Braunohler, Tone Bell, Sean O’Connor, and festival co-founder Matt Braunger (Up All Night, MadTV). Howard Kremer and Kulap Vilaysack will revisit the festival with their podcast “Who Charted?”

Amongst the dozens of special shows scheduled are Bryan Cook’s hilarious “Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction”—which has gained national recognition after its breakout success at last year's Bridgetown—Samantha Varela’s show “Picture This,” in which comedians perform while being illustrated live by top animators and cartoonists and the Bridgetown debut of Mike Schmidt’s long-running podcast “The 40-Year-Old Boy.” “Crappy Cinema Council” descends from Brooklyn, and Los Angeles sends its mainstays “Put Your Hands Together,” “Holy F***,” and “The Super Serious Show.” Fans will also be treated to Nato Green’s improvised comedy battle “Iron Comic” and a stage appearance from Mike Burns’ popular Twitter character in “Dadboner & Friends, You Guys.”