I love insidery industry trash-talk (when it's not directed at me), and there's a good amount of it going on in the comments to Andrew R Tonry's article about the Portland comedy scene, which essentially posits that too many bars are booking "comedy showcases" these days, and that up-and-coming standups are best left to hone their skills at open mic nights.
Comedy hurts when it's bad. Much more than a shitty band, an awful comedian has the potential to turn audience members away from the art as a whole. Among this new glut of shows, many are too frequent, housed in unsuitable venues, or simply short on stand-ups with experience and raw talent. Some bars are charging admission for stand-ups who just aren't yet worth paying to see. Learning to work a room and finding one's voice in stand-up can be a long and winding road. Luckily, there's a place for such incubation: the open mics.
I generally agree with this assessment. The wrong venue or a badly curated lineup can alienate audiences, leaving them less likely to take a chance on live comedy in the future.
Some of our commenters do not agree. And Curious Comedy's Stacey Hallal makes a very good point:
I look forward to the conversation evolving from reactions to the newness of a comedy scene in Portland to actual reviews of comedy - what is solid and what isn't and why - like we see for music, movies and theater. I know we are getting there. Slowly but surely, we are getting there.
(I would argue that the Mercury is moving that direction in our coverage of stand up, which we started covering in earnest only about a year ago, but that there's definitely a ways to go in in regards to sketch and and improv, which is what Curious Comedy mainly deals in.)
Anyway, it's an interesting conversation, if you like this sort of thing.