Comedy in the Park looking pretty idyllic in July 2021.
Comedy in the Park looking pretty idyllic in July 2021. Suzette Smith

Kickstand Comedy announced on Friday that it will reprise its hugely popular Comedy in the Park series in Laurelhurst Park this summer. The shows will start promptly on July 1, the first Friday of that month and run through September.

"Our kickoff show will be Julia Corral, Shain Brenden, Zak Toscani, and some surprise guests," Kickstand's Artistic Director Dylan Reiff told the Mercury. "Expect everything you loved about last year, but with some smart, fun growth and a slightly larger budget."

One of the most visibly successful arts endeavors of Portland's 2021 will-we-won't-we-still-be-in-a-pandemic season, the partnership between Portland Parks & Recreation and upstart theater nonprofit Kickstand Comedy opened with some fledgling hiccups—most memorably, that Friday where all the sprinklers went off on the assembled 300+ person crowd—before maturing into a whistle-worthy bi-weekly event that included fresh work from local comics, an impressive sound system, blanket rentals, and a recurring, charming pet tricks crowd warm-up.

Comedy in the Park's first summer of programming was solidly on point—which wasn't a huge surprise from Kickstand, they've always had pretty impeccable taste. In addition to presenting fresh bills of tight sets from local talent, the team also brought in touring artists like Alex Falcone and Mohanad Elshieky—a real treat for a free show. Suspiciously good hosts Tory Ward and Seth Allen will once again don wireless mics, joined this year in hosting duties by Jaren George.

Reiff noted that financial support from Parks & Rec as well as the Regional Arts & Culture Council will enable them to pay performers and staff better this year. Additionally last summer's impressive sound system—run by "saint-like tech manager" Jay Wertlzer—will also expand, adding on more speakers and stage lights to improve the experience for larger crowds.

Turnout for Comedy in the Park was solid right from the impetus, but by fall the whole hill that sloped towards the event's impromptu stage was covered in blanket-distanced comedy fans. Even people who didn't seem that comedy curious (looking at you, couple furiously making out in front of me), couldn't deny that Portland Fridays at dusk in the park are just about the pinnacle of a nice time.

Comedy in the Park takes place—unless otherwise noted—in Laurelhurst Park on the first, third and fifth Fridays of the month, under a big fir tree in the middle-north area of the park, "blankets down starting at 6 pm, show at 6:30 pm," FREE, all ages