TECHNICALLY SPEAKING, Amy Miller doesn’t live here anymore. Back in March, she and fellow stand-up Sean Jordan held a big "Friendship and Pizza Party" that filled the Aladdin Theater with folks looking to say goodbye to the two as they departed for Los Angeles. But considering how often Miller’s returned to Portland over the past few months, it’s almost like she never left.
"I’ve been back here so much," she says, laughing as she settles in for a late breakfast at Genie’s Café. "There was Bridgetown [Comedy Festival] and finishing things up with the job I just left and getting the rest of my stuff packed up. I’m really looking forward to finally getting settled down in LA."
Miller’s not quite done with Portland yet, though. She’s here now to pass the Portland’s Funniest Person crown (she won the contest at Helium Comedy Club in 2015) to another comic. But primarily she’s here to get her material into shape for one of the biggest milestones in her career to date: recording her first stand-up album for local label Kill Rock Stars.
"The timing worked out great," Miller says. "Once they’re tallying the votes at the semifinals, I get to do about 20-35 minutes each show. That was never going to happen in LA. This way I can piece the album together and figure out what older stuff I want to bring back."
The record deal is another push forward for a comedian who was already gaining momentum on the strength of her acerbic material about relationships, her conservative upbringing, and dealing with a near-constant barrage of sexist bullshit. In fact, she got the offer from Kill Rock Stars in the lobby of the Aladdin right after her farewell show.
Rather than bask in the glow of that, however, Miller took a leap of faith and spent the next six weeks in New York, grabbing any stage time available. That meant everything from performing for two people to playing to a packed house at Wyatt Cenac’s monthly Night Train showcase. Between that and the work she’s doing here to prepare for the recording, Miller should come out with guns blazing at the Alberta Street Pub on Thursday, July 7.
What may be surprising is Miller’s choice to record the album in a town that she’s been vocally critical of for some time. But it allows her to more firmly say goodbye to Portland.
"I developed so much of my voice and career here," she says. "I wanted a postcard from those years. It feels like the end of a relationship. 'We don’t have a future together, but I really appreciate what you’ve done for me so far.’"