**This week, we’re celebrating funny people – and the Bridgetown Comedy Festival – with Comedy Week on Daily Blender. Check out yesterday’s Q&A with comedian and festival founder Matt Braunger, and stay tuned for tomorrow’s Q&A with comedian Myq Kaplan!***
I’ll admit when Ian Karmel announced he was leaving Portland, a part of me panicked. It’s not that Portland doesn’t have other great comics – we certainly do (Sean Jordan, Curtis Cook, Jen Tam, Barbra Holm, to name a few) – but Ian was my surefire indication that a show would be funny. If he was on the bill, it was almost definite that other awesome, funny people would be in the line-up, too. What would I do without that reassurance?
Then, one night last minute, I found myself at one of the “Funny Over Everything” shows at the city’s Hollywood Theater (headlined that evening by brilliant Emily Heller from San Francisco). It was the night I found out about Bri Pruett. Sailing across the stage with the confidence of a seasoned comedy veteran, but with the same likability as your best girlfriend, she has since become one of my local favorites. In addition to adding a friendly vibrancy to local stand-up shows around town, she writes a hilarious (and helpful!) sex column called Let’s Do It With Bri Pruett, and co-hosts a live late night variety/talk show “Late Night Action” with always-funny Alex Falcone.
Here’s where you can catch her at the festival this weekend.
Q: Tell me how you got started in comedy. Did it start with improv?
A: I’ve been acting since I was little, but nothing stuck like live performance. In college, I joined a sketch comedy troupe, my troupe was a bunch of improvisers, so I started playing with that. Then when some folks in my improv troupe started to leave to go start their families and focus on their day-jobs, I wasn’t ready to do that; I was 26 years old and I had to find a solo artistic medium. Boom! Stand-up! I love it! I still dabble in theater – I run action/adventure theater with my friends, but they know stand-up has my heart.
Q: Between hosting “Late Night Action”, writing a sex column for the Portland Mercury, and doing stand-up all over the place, you seem pretty busy! What’s your writing routine like?
A: I’m stupid busy. I work best in the morning – I wake up early before my day job and try to write for an hour at a coffee shop. My day job is the coolest, if I’m on a roll writing, I’ll just send my boss a text and show up to my day job late.
Q: You work at Lovejoy Bakers in the Pearl. What is the single best thing someone could order from there?
A: Three things: Lovejoy deluxe breakfast sandwich, the ginger molasses cookie, or the steel cut oats… There are other things, the level of care the cooks take with sandwiches and salads is wonderful, olive tapenade and egg on ciabatta is perfect. The pastry chefs do incredible work on the individual tarts/desserts and the bread is incredible (the green olive levain will rock your world). Plus there’s this Parisian macaron fever in Portland and ours are crazy good, the coconut rum macarons are great. I have a lot to say about the bakery!
Q: You’re a born and raised Portlander. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve seen on Trimet?
A: I can’t really think about one weird thing (I am sort of ashamed to admit I drive pretty much everywhere). But when I was a full-time bus rider, I did get asked out a lot. Like, “Hey girl, you wanna go out sometime? You do? Ok we gotta meet there, because I don’t have a car.” One time I went out for pizza with this dude, and I remember we met at Pizza Schmizza, and he was like, “Go ahead, I’m buying, have a slice of anything you want!” And now I realize that was pretty slick for a poor dude on the bus. Like, Two toppings, three toppings, four toppings! Get it girl, I got this!
Q: Is there any sex topic you would absolutely never ever write about in your column? Somewhere you just refuse to go?
A: Nothing’s really come up yet. I try to stay away from anything that would shame any body, and things that I know nothing about… which is a lot.
Q: What is your comedy spirit animal?
A: Oh, you journalists, with your tricky questions! Baby animals are all big idiot clowns; awkward and dumb. That’s good for comedy. Goats are my faves in general. They are super zen no matter what, standing on a mountain peak, or eating urban blackberry bushes and what not. It’s kind of a “fuck you” to humans who are gawking and caught up in their stupid human bullshit. That’s sort of what I’m trying to do with my comedy I guess, like, I don’t care about what you care about! You dumb humans!
Q: You just had amazing set and want to go out and eat an equally awesome meal to celebrate. Where do you go?
A: Oh good, this is important. Most comics don’t get done with their shows until after 11 or midnight. We really need good late night dining in Portland – not just “good bar menus” Late restaurant hours! I don’t want to go to a cart, I want brick and mortar and candlelight at 11 p.m.
That being said, White Owl Social Club has a great bar menu (and is the Portland comedy hot spot of choice). I’m that person who would hate to make a bunch of line cooks turn everything back on, just because I want some polenta at the very end of service. Grassa is quick and easy and you can get pasta ’til 10 p.m. Usually I’d raincheck the celebration for the following day – Brunch is a comedian’s best friend. And when Screen Door’s monstrous wait time won’t do, I love Zell’s, Detour, and Club 21 has a great dive bar style brunch AND they have a monthly brunch stand-up show called “comedy for breakfast” Also, Lovejoy Bakers, of course. (I ate here before I worked here – it’s a great place to sit and write.)
Q: What’s the best thing about Bridgetown Comedy Festival?
A: It brings the best talent to Portland – it has helped us create an audience for comedy in Portland. An audience that grows larger every day! It’s always done a great job of showcasing the best talent at ALL levels. I always leave Bridgetown with some new favorite from a smaller market than LA or NY (like SF or Denver or Atlanta – all great scenes for stand up), and then in a few years that person has blown up nationally. Bridgetown always picks the right horses, another reason why I’m honored to perform this year.
~Kat Vetrano, Associate Editor
*Photo credit: Bri Pruett