THE CREATORS OF a new weekly showcase of local stand-up can say only one thing to Portland comedy fans: You’re welcome. Hosted by three comedians, You’re Welcome takes place every Wednesday at 9:30 pm at Mississippi Pizza.
After cycling through other possible names—like Hanson, and Dad Jokes—Caitlin Weierhauser, Matt Monroe, and Nariko Ott landed on a name with a double meaning. “It’s like, ‘Welcome to the show,’ but I read ‘You’re welcome’ very pompously in my head,” says Ott.
At a recent show, they talked about what makes You’re Welcome a valuable addition to a booming scene.
MERCURY: How did the showcase come about?
CAITLIN WEIERHAUSER: It might have been Matt’s idea.
MATT MONROE: I was running a couple monthly shows in Denver and I’d always wanted to do a weekly. I originally asked Caitlin because, in the times I had visited Portland over the last year, we seemed to hit it off really well. I thought she was so funny. It was going to be us and Zak Toscani, but Zak is, uh, dead. So.
NARIKO OTT: And that’s how I moved up the friendship rung!
MATT: No, Zak’s moving to LA at the end of the year, and Nariko was definitely our next choice.
NARIKO: They did have a lot of other recipients on that email.
CAITLIN: To be fair, Nariko was my first pick, Zak was my second, and Matt was my third.
MATT: For sure. That’s absolutely how I would rank that.
What makes this trio-of-hosts dynamic work?
MATT: Without Zak, Caitlin and I both said, Nariko! I didn’t even know if he would do it.
NARIKO: Because of the mountain of talent that I sit upon.
MATT: That, and, we all wear beanies. I didn’t want any beanie rivalries.
NARIKO: We should have called this show Two Beanies and a Denim Jacket.
CAITLIN: I wanted to call it One Haircut, Three Humans. I like working with Nariko because we match for most of the shows we do.
NARIKO: I would venture to say that we are the most coordinated show, fashionably.
CAITLIN: You mean, homogenous?
NARIKO: We are the most homogenous show in Portland, for sure. We’re all very white.
What do you each bring to this showcase? What’s your experience?
CAITLIN: I’ll just say it, I’m the alpha.
MATT: Caitlin’s the ringleader of this show, and I guess I’m the Riker to her Picard.
CAITLIN: Tonight we’re having a Lez Stand Up takeover, the group I do shows with.
NARIKO: I do a monthly called No Pun Intendo at Ground Kontrol. I was
also someone’s third choice to run that. It was originally Ron Funches’ show, and Raishawn Wickwire. Then it went to Steven Wilber. Then a bunch of people died, and then me.
CAITLIN: The success rate... for hosts of that show is like, 100 percent. Plus, Portland’s currently reigning Funniest Person, this one [indicates Nariko].
MATT: I don’t exactly take credit for that, but it DID happen after we inducted him into You’re Welcome.
What’s the advantage to doing a weekly show instead of a monthly?
MATT: Stage time.
CAITLIN: We set aside the time to write every week. We know we’re going to do a seven-minute set a piece, so we know we need to have something new worked out every week. It’s a motivational thing.
MATT: It’s very selfish. But it also benefits the scene. Any time you can have a weekly showcase that is well produced and well attended, more importantly, and well run in general, it’s good for everybody.
NARIKO: Because people have probably heard your shit, especially if they’re coming back to see a weekly show, you’ve got to have something new. Plus, at the top of the show, we get to just talk about whatever happened in a funny way. It’s a cool way to have to be funny on short notice.
How much prep work goes into each show>
MATT: Almost none.
CAITLIN: Nearly zero. No, I do a couple mics a week; that’s a lie. I do like, one. Maybe two. But each show means a couple hours of writing and prep.
MATT: For me, it varies. I only do one or two a week too—it’s bad.
CAITLIN: [to Nariko] How many do you do?
NARIKO: I do five to 10 a week.
MATT: That’s why he’s Portland’s Funniest Person. He’s not funnier than everyone, he just works harder.
NARIKO: Then you win Portland’s Funniest Person and people watch you eat shit a lot and you feel bad about it.
Why this venue?
MATT: I think I walked into almost every building with a stage in it over the course of two months, leading up to this place.
CAITLIN: I graciously let him do that. I mean, I gave him a list and sent him to places.
MATT: I was worried I would have to convince Mississippi Pizza to do stand-up. But it turns out Caitlin has experience running shows here.
CAITLIN: This was the original home of Lez Stand Up! Then I ran a show here for a while, where Nariko was a regular.
MATT: It’s perfect for stand-up. I’m very picky when it comes to stand-up spaces because it matters way more than people know. You need low ceilings, acoustics, closeness to the audience, lighting.
Great! Anything to add?
NARIKO: Jet fuel can’t melt steel beams. I want to see it in print.
CAITLIN: With the three of us putting a show on together, we have a unique opportunity to grab out-of-town talent and provide stage time in a cool environment for local talent. This is us participating in our community in the best way we can figure out to do it.
MATT: I agree. And you’re welcome. I still think we should have called this Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Shop, because it’s super accurate.