The strange mental gymnastics that so many of us have been going through since November 8 can best be summed up by comedian Andie Main. The local stand-up was so distraught by the election that she spent that night waking up, sobbing for a bit, and then falling back asleep. But at 4 am, she received an email informing her that she had just been accepted to perform at the 2017 SF Sketchfest, including a spot opening for the Grawlix, the Denver-based comedy crew that helped create the TV series Those Who Can’t.
“I was so sad and so happy at the same time,” Main remembers, as she sits at the Doug Fir Lounge, enjoying a well-deserved beer after a successful Cool Kids Patio Show that she hosts and helps book. “I was crying and being, like, ‘Thank you... that is... thank you so much...’” She acts out that last sentence with a twisted-up happy/sad face and a tone of weepy joy in her voice.
That feeling is something Main has had to learn to embrace over the last few years through her work organizing Revolution Comedy, a twice-monthly stand-up showcase at Curious Comedy Theater that raises funds for progressive organizations. It’s a natural fit for a city and a comedy community that tend to lean left, and over the last six months, these events have raised nearly $10,000 for groups like Planned Parenthood, Don’t Shoot PDX, the ACLU, and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in its fight to prevent the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
“It’s like a church of the absurd,” Main says of these shows. “A USO show for activism. I want it to be a morale booster. The world fucking sucks right now but we can laugh at jokes, we can laugh at ourselves, and we can laugh at our situation. It’s not going to really solve anything, but it’s going to help.”
Revolution Comedy has also been a great place to take stock of just how deep the stand-up community runs in Portland. The shows Main has put together have featured the best of the local scene as well as the occasional guest spot from visitors like former Mr. Show and Conan O’Brien writer Dino Stamatopoulos, who opened the ACLU benefit show in March.
If there’s any potential downside to all this, it’s in Main’s risk for burnout. Between Revolution Comedy and the Cool Kids Patio Show, she’s responsible for booking and promoting six comedy showcases each month this summer. It’s something she’s already aware of as she took a couple of months off after the first iteration of the fundraising events at Kickstand Comedy to regroup and refocus.
But for Main, her chief concern is how to walk that thin line, as she puts it, of being “respectful to the cause while still being able to fuck with it.”
“I don’t know how dark is too dark,” she says. “It’s a little macabre because the reason a lot of people are interested in the show is that the world is so fucked up right now. I can’t think of it like that, though. I just knew I had to do something and the only thing I’m really good at is telling jokes.”