Cameron Esposito, Janine Brito and other All Jane, No Dick All-Stars

 
 

Whitney Streed

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If you haven’t heard, Portland seems to be on the fast track to becoming the next comedy mecca and Whitney Streed has been called the glue that holds it all together. With a brutally honest approach to comedy, Streed was one of the breakout comics on last year’s AJND lineup and plans to do it again this year. “It’s such a great festival. Curious Comedy Theater is one of the reasons Portland comedy is so great right now, and it’s awesome to get to work with so many amazing performers from around the country. The positive energy of festivals is totally addicting to me, whether I’m on the stage or behind it. I am super excited for this year!”

“Portland is so awesome for comedy right now, for a whole host of different reasons,” Streed said. “There has been a strong, tight-knit comedy scene in town for decades, but in the past few years I think that a combination of things—amazingly talented and energized new people, the growth of the city as a whole, the Bridgetown Comedy Festival, global warming maybe?—it’s become a really good place to grow as a young comic. I’m just glad to get to be a part of it, both on the performing side and on the producing side.”

Describing herself as “a cross between Bill Hicks and a Laffy Taffy wrapper,” Streed has an excellent vantage point on the growing diversity within the industry. “The number of queer comics is going up, and it will keep going up as it becomes more and more acceptable to be open about who you are and who you love and how you live your life,” Streed said. “Comedy is a reflection of society, but like a reflection through a fun house mirror—some things seem bigger than normal, while others are shrunk down. Obviously there’s not a statistically proportionate number of women in comedy, but there is certainly no deficit in terms of talent, skill, creativity, originality. I say, don’t focus on the number gap—focus on the kind of amazing things coming from female comedians, queer comedians, trans* and genderqueer comedians. Lift it up. The more we highlight what is good, the more strength we give it, and the more it will grow.”

Speaking to the local scene, Streed produces a weekly showcase (The Weekly Recurring Humor Night!) that I’ve been running for tw0 and a half years. Other than that, they are working on doing more comedy outside of Portland—visiting LA at the end of the month. “My main goal is to just keep going!”

Find them @WhitneyStreed

Susan Rice

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Susan is one of those comedians who both inspires and is inspired by the comedians she surrounds herself with. “I am honored to be in the festival this year with such amazing young women, Rice said. “I am not young or amazing but [I am] a survivor.” She has part of that right, except for the fact that she is beyond amazing, acting as a comedic powerhouse who has dazzled the Portland comedy scene for 30 years. “I knew I wanted to do stand up on March 16th 1983 at 9:45 p.m. at the Leaky Roof Tavern,” Rice remembers. “I had been a professional actress prior to my first comedy set and felt like I had just walked through the door and was home.”

Naming iconic comics Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett and Totie Fields as her inspiration, she recalls her mom tiptoeing down the hall to wake her to see Totie on The Tonight Show with Jack Paar. “When I began in comedy it was the era of the Holy City Zoo and Robin Williams, Jerry Seinfeld on Letterman and Jay Leno. Then I met and worked with Paula Poundstone and knew what it was to be a genius and create your art. She was/is amazing.”

“At that time it was unheard of to have two women on the same bill,” recalls Rice. “We were the ‘freaks’ of the show, the draw on the bill. I remember famous female comics not allowing me on showcases in LA. We were considered to all be doing the same kind of material, menstrual cramp, tampon jokes or fat jokes. It was terrible because all the women I knew who were doing stand up never mentioned any of this crap.”

As for her goal, Rice said simply, “longevity.” “It’s a distance race with lots of curves and down hill and up hill climbs. Whether it’s a comedy club, or the Red Hat Society or Microsoft Corporate, I want to make ‘em laugh.”

Find her @LaughLady1

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