It's fucking beautiful out today—would be a good day to have Comedy in the Park, right? 

Well, there's less than a month until Portlanders get to do just that. Local nonprofit Kickstand Comedy announced Friday that the third year of the Laurelhurst Park comedy pop-up—which they began during the pandemic—kicks off on June 23 and will run weekly all summer until Sep 1, with one exception on July 21.

Kickstand also dropped a some incredible venue news: They have signed a lease for a permanent brick and mortar space at 1006 SE Hawthorne—a bright and central building that was once the soccer fan pub Toffee Club.

For the past two summers, it's felt like most of Portland shows up to Laurelhurst Park on Fridays, following the posted instructions of "blankets drop at 6 pm, show starts at 6:30 pm." The event remains one of the greatest community and art projects brought about by the pandemic.

Some will recall the bright-eyed future Kickstand reached for in the former Brody Theater space. They had barely begun painting walls and putting on shows when the 2020 shut down hit venues hard.

 Working with Portland Parks & Recreation, Kickstand's curated park events allowed for distanced crowds to gather—pod boundaries maintained by blanket circumference—and laugh from sunset to sundown. The sound system was impressive and the mics wireless. The comics brought their best, newest, and weirdest material. Before you knew it, a whole hill was covered in buzzing attendees, along with their bikes, dogs, and snacks.

This is the first year Comedy in the Park will be presented weekly, perhaps quelling the number of people who think I will know if it is, in fact, a park comedy Friday. Pro tip: Kickstand keeps a current Instagram with upcoming shows and bills of performing comedians. The two main hosts from 2022, Julia Corrall and Jaren George, return again this year. And while the current formula is just about perfect, Kickstand is still promising more.

A press release from the organization promised "art and set design from local celebrity artist Mike Bennett, qualified ASL interpreters at select dates, a dedicated show exclusively featuring BIPOC comedians on 8/4," among other perks. Another line about "more cute dogs than you can handle" likely signals the return of a crowd warm-up bit where audience pets perform tricks—an unfuckwithable crowd pleaser if there ever was one.

But about that brick and mortar: Along with the announcement of their popular summer series, Kickstand has begun a fundraising campaign aimed at purchasing the building they're moving into. Just as the free Friday comedy nights come to a close, they hope to transition seamlessly to an indoor clubhouse vibe. 

Located just two blocks from Helium, the new space feels kind of perfect—even if on the tour given the Mercury it was still deep in renovation mode. Dylan Reiff, the organization's artistic director and co-founder sketched the team's vision of what could be a small theater for shows and a couple multi-use rooms for events and comedy and improv classes—the organization's other main focus.

Reiff said he imagines the new brick and mortar as a place to break out of the post-pandemic community stops and starts—a place where, after a class or a show, people can deepen friendships or just riff on ideas together.

The organization's hope is to parlay the tremendous popularity of their free Comedy in the Park events into fundraising, renovating, and eventually buying the new building, to secure a community-focused spot for Portland's comedy future.

Comedy in the Park will take place in Laurelhurst Park every Friday from June 23-Sept 1 (excluding July 21). Experience has taught us that the event moves around, but the crowd is big enough that it's easy to find. "Blankets down starting at 6 pm, show at 6:30 pm," FREE, all ages but may contain adult material.