It’s that time of year again, when people take a break from laughing at Portland long enough to laugh with us at Bridgetown Comedy Fest. Now in its seventh year, the annual event is known for being a different kind of fest. Over the course of four days, they’ll bring together up-and-coming performers and comedy veterans, create unique line-ups and, for the first time, host a queer showcase called “The Show That Dare Not Speak Its Name” which will include Bridgetown veterans Janine Brito, Rebecca O’Neal and Whitney Streed. Also on this year’s line-up are some first-timers: Natasha Muse and Caroline Bassett. It’s these ladies that make up for the fact that all of Bridgetown’s headliners are men. Not that I’m counting or anything.
“It’s kind of a bummer, but I understand that the festival promoters want to put the bigger names front and center,” Natasha Muse said. “Right now that happens to be mostly dudes but we’re changing, as a society, for the better, so it doesn’t worry me too much since we’re moving in the right direction.”
New to Bridgetown, this will be the first time Natasha has performed outside of California, as if Portland wasn’t lucky enough. “A few different people have told me I’m gonna love it up there and that the audiences are really gonna dig me,” she said, “so I expect I’ll either have a wonderful time or I’ll be bitterly disappointed.”
A self-described “late bloomer” in her comedy career, Natasha discovered her knack for engaging audiences as a gender illusionist at a San Francisco restaurant. “I was a waitress who would lip-sync a few times a night to popular songs on a bar,” she said. “I started off trying to fit in with the other girls, who looked good and did sexy numbers, but soon realized that my talent lied in being funny. And, really, getting laughter from people was much more fulfilling than making them want me. Although that was pretty sweet, too.”
She only plans to get funnier. Find her @NatashaMuse.
“This is my first time at Bridgetown, and in Portland,” Austin-based comedian Caroline Bassett said. “I can’t wait to try all the microbrews (no, really, all of them) and have a good doughnut for the first time in my life. Take that, 7-Eleven.”
Even before arriving to our fair city, Caroline seems to know what’s up in regards to a successful first trip to Portland. In regards to Austin and it’s comedy scene, she remains similarly enthusiastic.
“Being a female comic here is great,” she said. “There’s a ridiculous amount of talent and support–the professional jealousy is limited and we celebrate each other’s successes. I love it so much. As for being a gay comic, I don’t even think about it much. I came out almost nine years ago and it’s not really a big part of how I see myself. There are very few lesbian comics, and only 2 of us perform regularly. I’d estimate that there are almost 300 comics in town, so that really is just a sliver. I’m sure I’d think about that gap and what the experience of being a lesbian comic more often if there were more of us. I’d see the others, likely be attracted to some of them, and think to myself, ‘Oh, almost forgot! I’m gay as hell.’”
Diversifying comedy seems to be her greatest skill, second only to her wit. “I’m working on being able to do sets entirely in Spanish,” she admits. I only have one bit fully translated, so I’m working on the timing. It’s horrendous at the moment, so being able to tell it to a Spanish-speaking crowd and sound natural would be incredibly rewarding. I want to live abroad and become fully bilingual somewhat soon, so it would be great not to have to give up performing.”
Quick! Before she leaves, see her live and find her @CaroBassett.
The Bridgetown Comedy Festival is happening May 8 – May 11 in Portland. Visit bridgetowncomedy.com for tickets and line-up information.