SICK OF SAUSAGE-PARTY stand-up lineups and bro-centric Comedy Central fare? Get excited for this week’s All Jane Comedy Fest, which is practically a Portland tradition at this point, the one time a year comedy’s serious gender imbalance is temporarily righted, and a living rebuttal to anyone who’s somehow walking around in 2016 clinging to the notion that ladies can’t joke good. This year’s festival boasts big-name headliners, some of our favorite local comedians, and under-the-radar comics that you’ll want to know before they hit it big. Here are the Mercury’s picks for one of the funnest weekends of the year.
On her surreal Netflix series, Lady Dynamite, Maria Bamford covers everything from the allure of a Target-like corporation’s fake good vibes (“Sounds good, feels right!”) and the sadness of pet death to rare lady troubles (“A Vaginismus Miracle”) and the tyranny of showbiz (“Cradle the balls and work the shaft!”), all the while pulling from Bamford’s real-life experiences with bipolar disorder. It’s a tangent-taking, unapologetically strange depiction of mental illness, and also one of the best, most honest portrayals of depression and anxiety I’ve ever seen in pop culture. In person, Bamford’s even funnier and more charming. I can’t think of a headliner I’d rather see at this—or any—comedy fest. MB
Remember how I just said I couldn’t think of a better headliner? Jokes! Get double excited, because the dry, delightful Jackie Kashian is co-headlining with Bamford. Amid a scourge of comedy podcasts currently clogging up iTunes, Kashian stands out with The Dork Forest—the live show where she invites likeminded nerds to join her as they discuss “whatever dorky thing” they’d like. But don’t be fooled by Kashian’s made-for-podcasting voice: She’s extremely funny onstage, and her jokes have premises that make you laugh while also embedding themselves in your brain, as when she calls the grocery store frozen-food aisle “a trophy case to American imperialism.” MB
I’ve seen her so often I can’t even remember how many times, but whatever that number is (five? three? 25?) I can tell you it isn’t enough. Austin stand-up Maggie Maye is charismatic as all get-out, sharp as can be, and has the fashion sense of—her words—“a five-year-old whose dad has her for the weekend.” You will want to be her friend! If you get bored at comedy shows, don’t miss Maye’s set. It goes fast, funny, and features everything from alternatives to “Dance like nobody’s watching” (“Dance like you are not the father!”) to the not-so-subtle racism of being called “sassy.” Maye’s stand-up is a goddamn gem. You’ll wish you could see it again as soon as it’s over. MB
Incredulous is one of my favorite comedy flavors and nobody does it like Daphnique Springs. I could watch a whole set of Springs working a crowd and/or just focus on her amazing eyebrows. It feels like she’s not even doing material, but she is definitely doing material. Springs is a seasoned comedy writer from LA, appeared on How I Met Your Mother, and kissed Patrick Stewart on Jimmy Kimmel Live! If I wasn’t concerned that fucking older men might give me “grown face babies” before I saw her do her stand-up, I am now. SS
I don’t like The Ellen Show because Ellen Degeneres is so GODDAMN SPRINGY, but if Irene Tu (the self-professed “next Asian Ellen Degeneres”) had a show, I would watch the fuck outta that. I just want a morning show that—like Irene Tu—comes at me all casual, with calm resignation about how fucked-up the world is and jokes that sneak up, circle back and make me spit out my soda. Tu hails from San Francisco, but you can still detect that Midwest Chicago sneer. She excels at pleasant—almost parental—condescension and the confident undercut, especially in her dirty haikus. SS
Do you like jokes about sex? Of course you do! We profiled Portland stand-up Wendy Weiss recently in our pet issue because she’s an intriguing local cat lady, comedian, and stripper. Weiss wields a sultry, matter-of-fact humor pulled specifically from her unique experiences. She’s uncomfortable with racism at an orgy. She wishes everyone could be as real as dick torture bros. No one else can tell these jokes. Only Wendy Weiss. SSNote: Clare O'Kane had to cancel her appearances at this year's festival. This article has been updated to reflect that. —Eds.