Looking through the lineup of the women-focused All Jane Comedy Festival (now in their eighth year!) is such a pleasure. The curation of women comedians is so on point and—maybe I should be embarrassed by this—largely unknown to me.
Representation of women in comedy is abysmal. And while that’s bad for women comedians, it’s equally bad for comedy audiences who find themselves sitting through yet another set from some guy whose jokes are 100 percent funny shit his wife said. So checking out All Jane doesn’t only make you feminist—it also makes you someone who wants to find out about new comedy voices.
In past years, All Jane introduced Portland audiences to now famous comedians like Cameron Esposito, Alice Wetterlund, and Aparna Nancherla. (No joke, I saw all those comics for the first time at All Jane.) This year I’ll be looking for comedy’s future stars at the following shows:
Okay, what I just said doesn’t apply to Rita Rudner because she’s already a star. An accomplished storyteller with a gentle but acerbic wit, Rudner builds towering pillars of good-natured overthinking that eventually crumble into laugh-tears from her audiences. Catching Rudner outside Las Vegas—where she proudly boasts the longest running solo comedy show—feels like an opportunity one should not miss. (Sun Oct 6, 7:30 pm, Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie, $30-35)
Philadelphia-born, New York-based Chanel Ali tells hilarious gags that are all rooted in real, weird stuff she’s seen. The City of Brotherly Love gave her a lot of material to work with—see her story about a multiplex grand opening where a man was shot in the penis—and her time in the Big Apple sounds just as fruitful. Ali’s smart, punchy delivery is taking her quickly up the comedy chain. (Fri Oct 4, 7:30 pm, Curious Comedy Second Stage, $10-15; Sat Oct 5, 9:30 pm, Curious Comedy Main Stage, $18-23)
Two Dykes and a Mic
This beloved LA stand-up podcast and comedy show seems like an ideal fit for All Jane. Rachel Scanlon gives me a Minnesotan carpenter Emily Heller vibe when she casually talks about walking through the Mall of America drinking a glass of ranch dressing. Her co-host McKenzie Goodwin typically plays an unstoppable foil to Scanlon’s hijinks, but also breaks out some really thoughtful feminist humor. This show also presents a chance to see Mav Viola, whose humor about gender fluidity and trying testosterone makes her seem like an energetic James Dean. (Fri Oct 4, 9:30 pm, Curious Comedy Main Stage, $18-23)
Winners of the Best Sketch Comedy category at this year’s Just For Laughs Northwest festival, Brunch (Allie Entwistle and Kerri Donaldson) have wowed Portland before at the Siren’s Sketchfest. Their strongly written sketches have a little of that Mr. Show flavor, with unrelated premises flowing into one another and their at-times-unnerving deadpan seriousness. All Jane has generously provided us with two opportunities to see them—as well as local improv troupes Mom Jeans, Solid Gold, and Secret Cervix—so don’t come at me with excuses about how you couldn’t make it to Brunch. (Fri Oct 4, 9:30 pm, Curious Comedy Second Stage, $10-15; Sun Oct 6, 3pm, Curious Comedy Main Stage, $10-15)