WE'RE FIRM BELIEVERS that the best way to experience Bridgetown is not by sticking to a rigid show schedule, but by slapping on a wristband and venue hopping. Bridgetown's 200-plus comics will find themselves shuffled into all sorts of combinations this weekend: on stand-up showcases and podcasts, at the Tanker's semi-legendary open mic, drunk and shouting at the food carts. We can't preview every show, but we can share some of the comics we're most excited to see, and a few of the showcases you can see 'em on. (For complete performer schedules, hit Bridgetowncomedy.com.)

Paul Provenza

Paul Provenza got his start as a stand-up, and has since become a preeminent chronicler of the art. He directed The Aristocrats, served as moderator of Showtime's The Green Room (on which comics discussed their own motivations, modes, and comedy at large), and wrote !Satiristas!, about how comics opened discussion about society's sacred cows. To Bridgetown, Provenza's bringing Set List: Stand-Up without a Net, a live show where he presents topics for comedians to riff on off the top of their heads. It's great for multiple reasons: It gets performers out of their comfort zones, allows audiences to see the comedic mind during joke formulation, and presents us with the opportunity to gawk at public failure. All in good fun, of course. ANDREW R TONRY
Set List at Doug Fir, Sat 8 pm; Alhambra Theatre, Sun 8 pm

Emo Philips

Do you like funny wordplay and incredible joke writing? Then you, my friend, are a fan of Emo Philips. The stalwart comedian has made the world of paraprosdokians his falsettoed domain. Dude's an oddball, and his meandering jokes laze this way and that, until BOOM, they've got you with a clever twist. Philips has been performing for more than three decades, so his act is dialed in like the proverbial 1-900 number. Go watch him writhe about the stage like a sugar-addled preschooler, and laugh your fool face off between his outrageously surreal punchlines. Because the man's got wit. COURTNEY FERGUSON
Doug Fir, Sat 8 pm; Bossanova, Sun 10 pm

Lance Bangs

At last year’s Bridgetown Festival, this filmmaker/producer showed a bevy of brilliant clips from his various projects over the years. This included a Jackass bit that involved Johnny Knoxville showing up at a hardware store in a prison jumpsuit and handcuffs looking for a pair of bolt cutters that resulted in his near-arrest, and an episode of The Greatest Event In Television History where Adam Scott and Jon Hamm recreated the opening credits for Simon & Simon. Goodness knows what he’s got in store this time around, but it is sure to be surreal, subversive, and hilarious. ROBERT HAM
Doug Fir, Sun 10 pm

Aparna Nancherla

One of the first times I saw Aparna Nancherla she was telling the dirtiest fanfic story about Dora the Explorer anyone's ever heard. Grown men at the Eagles Lodge were shaking their heads in embarrassment. The next time I saw her she was in red-and-white stripes, the spitting image of Waldo. With her innocent looks and wicked sense of humor, she's a never-ending font of hilarious stories about hiphop, imperialism, and feminism. I just hope she tells her "New York moments" story about when she saw a pile of dog poop with a used condom on it ("Too much information? Or not enough?"). CF
Eagles Lodge, Thurs 8 pm; Jupiter Hotel, Fri 9 pm; Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction at Alhambra Theatre, Sat 10 pm; Eagles Lodge, Sun 8 pm

Matt Braunger

Matt Braunger is like everyone's favorite cousin—he might be the goofiest, nicest comedian out there. The former Portlander has a face that's expressive and funny, like an angry-browed Bert from Sesame Street. Plus, his hatred of owls and disdain for Dalmatians is beyond hysterical. You just want to hug him while laughing at everything he says—not unlike some of the friends you've made in Portland, only funnier and with better stories. CF
Alhambra Theatre, Thurs 8 pm; Jupiter Hotel, Fri 7 pm; Eagles Lodge, Sat 9 pm; Hawthorne Theatre, Sun 8 pm

James Adomian

To see James Adomian once is to become a fan for life. His high-flying impressions are bombastic, spot-on, and full of lewd, smart energy. But he's much more than an impressionist: Adomian's stand-up act includes a great story about being a closeted gay man on the football team, when he's not howling out missives as Jesse "The Body" Ventura or the gay-as-eff Sheriff of Nottingham. If you can catch him doing his thing—being outrageously funny on the fly—at the Tanker during Bridgetown's late-night free-for-all, then all the better for you. CF
White Owl Social Club, Fri 8 pm; Alhambra Theatre, Sat 8 pm; Doug Fir, Sun 10 pm

Laurie Kilmartin

It’s been quite a year for this comic and writer for Conan, who garnered a great deal of attention for her hilarious and heartbreaking livetweeting of her father’s last days. Hopefully that spotlight will remain on Killmartin as she continues her brilliant standup career because the whole world needs to her gleefully bitter observations on motherhood and her razor sharp crowd work (check out her video where she demolishes a drunk 70-year-old heckler). RH
Doug Fir, Sat midnight

Reggie Watts

Before he performed on Conan, before he co-hosted Comedy Bang! Bang!, Reggie Watts was pairing up with dancers and creating esoteric video performance art at Portland's avant-garde Time-Based Art Fest. And before that, he performed with beloved Seattle band Maktub. Watts' roots in music and comedy are deep, varied, and weird—and those adjectives sum up his live performance pretty well, too. If you've already experienced Watts' vocal virtuosity firsthand, you know no description can really do him justice. If you haven't, you're in for a mind-bending treat. ALISON HALLETT
Hawthorne Theatre, Thurs 10 pm; Bossanova, Fri 10 pm; White Owl Social Club, Sat 8 pm; Doug Fir, Sun 4 pm

Paul F Tompkins

As far as we know, he's never performed stand-up in Portland before—and he's not doing it this time, either. Read our full interview with Tomkins.
The Dead Authors Podcast at Bossanova, Thurs 8 pm

Jonah Ray

Something about Jonah Ray's sensibilities seems to belie his coveted spot in the epicenter of LA comedy. He's a co-host of both the Nerdist podcast and the weekly stand-up showcase Meltdown, which LA Weekly called the Best Stand-Up Comedy Show in 2012 (and there's really no reason it isn't still). But Ray is genial, humble, and self-effacing. His targets are broad, like celebrities, jerking off, and feeling weird while growing up. He doesn't blow minds, necessarily, or push a lot of boundaries; he's simply solid and relatable. Ray grew up playing in punk bands (his live taping of the Jonah Raydio podcast at Bridgetown features guests Hutch Harris of the Thermals, garage popper Mikal Cronin, and more). That independent, underdog, DIY spirit seems to guide Ray's act. ART
The Meltdown at Bossanova, Fri 8 pm; Eagles Lodge, Fri 11 pm; Doug Fir, Sat 3 pm; Alhambra Theatre, Sat 8 pm

Kumail Nanjiani

As a co-host of the Meltdown show, Kumail Nanjiani is a frantic, needy counterpoint to Jonah Ray. And while we'll be seeing more of the both of them, as a Meltdown-themed show has been picked up by Comedy Central, we're also going to be seeing a whole lot more of Nanjiani, who's a part of the terrific ensemble on HBO's Silicon Valley. (It's a stunning show, finding jokes in the strangest, most modern, twisting ethical conundrums.) The Pakistan-born Nanjiani occasionally mines his heritage for material, but much of his act is about how much he digs videogames, and nerd and pop culture. ART
The Meltdown at Bossanova, Fri 8 pm; Doug Fir, Sat 1 pm

Andres Du Bouchet

If you’re a regular Conan viewer, you’ll likely recognize Andres Du Bouchet’s name as part of the writing staff of the late-night show and his appearances on the program as such sundry characters as Fat Jesus and a scientist who reveals the predilection in the animal kingdom for auto-erotic asphyxiation. His standup leans even harder on the conceptual, but whether it is selections from his as-yet-unproduced musical memoir One Hundred and Me Percent: The Andres Du Bouchet Saga or his character, Charles Delicious, the mentortainer who farts whenever you shake his hand, it is never less than brilliant. RH
Alhambra Lounge, Sun 9 pm

Janine Brito

In her stint as a writer and performer on the sadly canceled Totally Biased, Janine Brito stood out not only for her dapper attire (she has a thing for bowties) but also for her sharp commentary and great Tracey Morgan impersonation. Her standup is possibly even better as she explores coming out, being often mistaken for a dude, and that period of her childhood when she was convinced she was the Antichrist. RH
Bossanova, Thurs 10 pm; Alhambra, Fri 8 pm

Kiran Deol

Kiran Deol has had a fascinating journey in the entertainment world, starting not as an actress or comedian, but as a filmmaker. Her Emmy-nominated documentary Woman Rebel looked at the female soldiers that participated in the revolution in Nepal, and picked up numerous accolades after being screened on HBO. These days, she focuses her time working in front of the camera and bringing her arch view of the world to comedy clubs around the U.S. RH
Hawthorne Lounge, Fri 11 pm

Dan Harmon

You probably know him best as the creator and showrunner of Community. Should you need more information than that in order to justify giving Harmon a few hours of your time (really?), know that his excellent, hilarious podcast Harmontown showcases Harmon's unbounded imagination and faculty with a riff. AH
Harmontown taping at Dour Fir, Sat 5:30

Mary Mack

Described as a folk humorist, Mary Mack is a Midwestern weirdo with a cartoon voice and talent for the clarinet and ukulele. She's also delightful. Perhaps you heard her interview on WTF with Marc Maron—and yes, she's just that endearing in her real-life comedy. With a background in band camp, her act is full of quirky charm, short musical interludes, stories about her raccoon-adopting mom, and a barely constrained bit of rage peeking out from behind a goofy demeanor—not unlike Maria Bamford's little sister. In fact, exactly like Maria Bamford's little sister. In other words, she's a comic you'll definitely want to catch. CF
Hawthorne Theatre, Thurs 8 pm, Fri 7 pm; Jupiter Hotel, Sat 9 pm; Hawthorne Theatre, Sun 8 pm

Nate Bargatze

Nate Bargatze’s delivery as a standup is such that his jokes kind of sneak up on you. There’s just something about his Southern accent and matter-of-fact approach to being onstage that you don’t realize what’s hit you until it’s too late. Especially because most of the humor is directed inward at Bargatze’s uncomfortable childhood growing up as the son of an honest-to-goodness clown (“You know how confusing it is to get screamed at by a man who has a smile painted on his face?”) or admitting that, like Manti Te’o, he just might be dumb enough to fall for a fake girlfriend. RH
Alhambra, Fri 9 pm

Christian Duguay

Even though he came up in the Groundlings, Christian Duguay carries himself like the writer that he is. Duguay doesn't bowl you over with outlandish characters or exaggerated voices. He just delivers tightly packed, well-crafted jokes and premises, many of which are about his day-to-day life as a dad. I remember seeing him a year or two ago, working out some new material. He had a joke about feeling old and liking Steely Dan, and he wondered aloud if anyone had any idea what the hell he was talking about. Christian, we did know, and it was great. ART
White Owl Social Club, Thurs 10 pm; Alhambra Theatre, Fri 7 pm; Alhambra Theatre Lounge, Sat 7 pm; White Owl Social Club, Sun 10 pm

Bryan Cook

By now, we're all familiar with Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction, Bryan Cook's perverted baby—he's been touring the hell out of it. Less titillating but wholly searing is Cook's stand-up. He—or his character—is often fuming, or beaten down by despair. He's not afraid of going totally nuclear. Hell, he might enjoy it: face red, veins about to burst, completely decimating a room. Cook is an equal-opportunity flogger, regularly whipping himself, the audience, or society at large. Sometimes all three at once. It's a sight to behold, and at times rather liberating—indeed, there is a peace that comes from listening to someone exclaim into a microphone the most brutal ideas we have but are afraid to murmur. ART
Analog Theater, Thurs 10 pm; Doug Fir, Fri 11 pm; Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction at Alhambra Theatre, Sat 10 pm; Bossanova, Sun 8 pm

Richard Bain

Unlike his compatriots Ron Funches and Ian Karmel, Richard Bain didn't find immediate stardom after leaving Portland for LA. Part of that, perhaps, is due to Bain's subversive nature—he's not afraid to torpedo a room or insult an ungrateful, undeserving audience. And while sometimes he has to pay for his adventurousness and self-deprecation, Bain is nonetheless growing as a comic: He's doing great stuff with video sketch group Dead Kevin and blowing away the actors in his Upright Citizens Brigade classes. So while audiences will line up to see hometown hero Karmel, I'll be in the front row to see Bain. His may not be a Cinderella story, but goddammit, the recognition will come. It will be well deserved. ART
White Owl Social Club, Thurs 10 pm; Eagles Lodge, Fri 11 pm; Analog Theater, Sat 11 pm; Ground Kontrol, Sun 6 pm

Nathan Fielder

Nathan Fielder is an odd bird, a Canadian whose humor is so bone-dry it's almost like anti-comedy. His Comedy Central show from last year, Nathan for You, is something else: Fielder, presenting himself as a business expert, offers small businesses the most asinine marketing advice, which he then carries out, despite the general befuddlement of those he's ostensibly assisting. The show has produced a number of giant viral, cross-cultural breakthroughs, including Dumb Starbucks and a staged video hoax where a pig seemingly saves a drowning baby goat. In the festival setting, Fielder ought to be the ultimate curveball, a tremendous change of pace. ART
Doug Fir, Sun 8 pm

Sean O'Connor

I hope Sean O'Connor writes a young-adult book someday. Not only are his stories about high school completely hilarious, but they're gem-perfect examples of the surpassing, compelling, amazing stupidity of teenaged boys—whether he's talking about a pig dissection gone horrifically wrong, or accidentally becoming a gay porn star. Also in this terrific comic's repertoire: the bad kind of threesome, having ADD, Kesha's tit-glitter. AH
Analog Theatre, Thurs 11 pm; Bossanova, Fri 10 pm; White Owl Social Club, Sun 10 pm

Hari Kondabolu

We've written plenty about Hari Kondabolu over the years, most recently about his excellent new album, Waiting for 2042, released this year on Kill Rock Stars. Kondabolu is a rising star in the comedy world—just ask Terry Gross!—and for good reason: He marries progressive, message-heavy material with elegant, surprising joke construction like no one else, for a set of challenging politics that goes down easy. AH
Hawthorne Theatre Lounge, Thurs 7 pm; Alhambra Theatre, Fri 9 pm; Analog Theater, Sat 9 pm