Now in its fourth year, the NW Black Comedy Festival is back, with tons of Black talent pulled in from across the nation. (Seriously, there’s a whole night devoted to comics from Las Vegas!) Thanks to founders, Courtenay and Tyrone “The Real Hyjinx” Collins, NWBCF grows in scope every year. For one, this year sees the festival moving downtown to Harvey’s Comedy Club. In past years, I’ve lightly roasted the fest for not having a dedicated website, so it’s nice to see schedules, tickets, and festival passes available in one place. However, the festival passes don’t seem to be saving anyone any money. At $240-300 a pass, that’s basically the price of a ticket for every show. So my advice is to pick a couple shows that look good and dip into this incredible curation of Black comedians in full force—something Portland rarely gets to see.
Young Gunz, Volume 2
When we interviewed Tyrone Collins last year, he described the regular open mic he hosts on Thursdays (The Real Comedy Spot) as a place where he can both give new talent a chance to gain experience and also see who’s ready to perform at local shows. So the Young Gunz showcases are a major focus of the fest. Picked by the Collins, both nights are jam-packed with their recommended comedians. I’m partial to the second volume due to local comedy up-and-comer Chris Johnson performing as host, but these shows are a crash course in cool new talent—some of whom are bound to blow up in a big way. (Sun Feb 23, 6pm)
Ladies Run This Mutha!
UPDATE: This round-up originally mentioned Maggie Maye, but she had to cancel due to a medical issue. Courtenay Collins informed the Mercury that NWBCF is putting two more comedians on this show: Las Vegas stand-up Tab Lloyd and local legend Debbie Wooten. Add the fact that Ladies Run This Mutha! also offers up a chance to see festival headliner Marsha Warfield and it's obvious this show unmissable! (Sat Feb 22, 10 pm)
Proud & Out Loud!
Hosted by Portland Queer Festival’s associate producer and, full disclosure, Mercury contributor D. Martin Austin, this showcase is a great place to see Chaz Carter and Marsha Warfield and D’Lo—who blew audiences away last year at PQF—under the same roof. (Fri Feb 21, 10 pm)
Tuskegee Jokemen Show
Papp Johnson, Yusuf Ali, and Mateen Stewart bring the podcast/Twitch/YouTube comedy show they famously host at LA’s Comedy Store to Portland. Generally they green screen themselves and their guests into an airplane cockpit where they dissect and laugh about current events—earning them the tag line “most uninformed informational news show ever.” The show recently passed its three year mark so you know they’re doing it right. (Sun Feb 23, 8 pm)
An ongoing local comedy night, Minority Retort not only showcases comedians of color, but also puts together some of the best comedy bills in Portland. Their spotlight at this festival is no different with the ever delightful Jason Lamb hosting, and a couple sweet-tempered, cool-nerd comics (one of my favorite types of comedy) on the bill like Ahmed Abdelrahman from Oakland and Seattle headliner Manny Martin. Niles Abston is currently based out of Hollywood, but still floats a lot of super good jokes about growing up in Mississippi. This show is always *chef kiss.* (Sat Feb 22, 7 pm)