Portland’s Bridgetown Comedy Festival has a rep as an unofficial summer camp for stand-up comedians. Comic Shane Torres performed at last weekend’s festival, and is sharing his diary with Paste’s readers. For Part One, click here.
They should call this festival “I slept in my jeans again.” As day three of Bridgetown Comedy Festival starts I wake up on a friend’s sofa clearing the sleep out of my eyes and clumsily look around for a bottle of water I had left out for myself. That turns out to be the best idea I have had all weekend.
I get up in the clothes I had been sweating and sleeping in all night and wash myself off in the bathroom sink, taking an Uber back to my clothes and suitcase. After I give myself a proper scrubbing I look at my schedule for the day and I only have one show.
I decide to get myself up to the hotel headquarters of the festival and see what people are doing in the downtime. I get there and talk to a few comics all drinking bottles and complaining about hangovers and the amount of sugar in the Voodoo Doughnuts they stuffed into their joke holes the night before. As we are sitting there a transportation volunteer for the festival walks up and asks if we need a ride to the Ground Kontrol party. This is one of the reason the festival is so beloved by comics. At Bridgetown the planned daytime events for the comedians are about as fun a time you can have without a microphone in your hand.
Ground Kontrol specifically is a retro arcade with a bar and every videogame from your childhood. During Bridgetown the arcade is closed off to every single person except performers and festival staff and all the games are free plus there is more booze!! I remember that the night before my comedian buddy and all round delight Josh Androsky and I had decided we were going to finally beat the game Sunset Riders this year. If you don’t remember this game it was a four person videogame where you could play as one of four cowboys and shoot stage coach robbers, drink whiskey and go into brothels. Very appropriate for children in the early ‘90s. As we are playing the game we realize the bosses at the end of each level become increasingly more of an ethnic stereotype. We beat the game and feel like two doughy versions of John Wayne. I drink a few more breakfast beers and decide it’s time to take on all comers in NBA Jam. Myself and Josh pair up against JP McDade, a New York Comic at his first Bridgetown, and former Saturday Night Live cast member and friend Brooks Wheelan. After we crush Brooks and JP I decide to roll out and get some lunch.
I head over to a patio bar with a pair of Portland comedians, Zak Toscani and Sean Jordan, and we are joined by host and creator of The Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction show and Podcast, Bryan Cook. We enjoy our mostly liquid lunch and catch up and figure out what the game plan is after our shows tonight. We all walk back to the hotel headquarters and I do a short interview for the festival and then take off to one of my shows that I could not be more excited about: Hometown Heroes, a bill entirely comprised of Portland comedians. The show is at Refuge and is packed asses to elbows. This is the most fun show to this point of the festival, mostly because everyone on the show is old friends I never see these days living in NY.
Around 3:00 I have decided to drink a heroic amount of bourbon and I am yelling solutions to all of comedy’s problems to no one in particular. As the party is wrapping up I get a call and my comedian friend is three blocks away and has decided it was a good idea to get her car stuck on train tracks just outside of the party. I rally about a half dozen comedians who are either high on molly or drunk enough to piss themselves and ask them to help me. They oblige and it could not go more poorly. After about an hour of trying to lift a Honda off the tracks with two by fours and sheer will we give up and call the cops. Everybody leaves except for myself, the driver and a another comic. We get the car off the tracks with the help of the cops and a tow truck. IT IS A FUCKING MIRACLE THAT NOBODY GOES TO JAIL. Typically I am not a fan of cops, but for some reason these guys were cooler than the other side of the pillow. When I get to bed around 8:00 AM I tell myself that tomorrow I will actually be able to use my toothbrush before I go to bed.
Shane Torres is a stand-up comedian and writer who has performed on Conan and acted on IFC’s Comedy Bang! Bang!. He’s written for Laughspin, The Portland Mercury and Nailed Magazine. Follow him on Twitter and watch him perform stand-up at the Paste Studio.