It’s a well-known fact that things get worse before they get better: break-ups, acne, and (hopefully) the United States of America. Sometimes you have to weather a storm before skipping off into the sunset—and that’s the prospect currently facing Minority Retort, Portland’s only comedy showcase highlighting people of color and minorities.
After receiving backlash following public allegations of sexual assault against a now-ousted former host, a new and improved Minority Retort returns this month. Moving forward, Minority Retort will be hosted by Jason Lamb and fellow comedians Julia Ramos and Neeraj Srinivasan at its new venue, the Siren Theater.
This month’s show will feature stand-up from Pedro Andrade, Chris Johnson, and Marcus Coleman, who last year was selected by the Mercury as one of Portland’s Undisputable Geniuses of Comedy. The headliner is none other than the fabulous Debbie Wooten, a 61-year-old comedian and motivational speaker with a knack for storytelling. I saw Wooten perform at Minority Retort a few months ago, and remember her comedy feeling like listening to your auntie spit truth to the kids’ table at Thanksgiving. Wooten has a beautiful way of pulling laughter from her own experiences of overcoming adversity (like being born with spina bifida, or contracting polio when she was five months old) and poking fun at things that she doesn’t understand—like Portlanders who consider themselves “parents” to their dog “children.”
In an industry dominated by white men—and in a city known as America’s whitest—Minority Retort has been a haven for women, queer, and POC comedians. And with the recent changes in place, it looks like it will only continue to get better.