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. Part Two is here.
The day starts with me pulling myself out of a sofa which I am sure is covered in my night farts from pizza, bourbon, and Voodoo Doughnuts. The previous night creeps back into my brain and I remember the car being stuck on the train tracks and everyone acting like a bunch of dogs trying to hump a football. I have slept so late that my show is in just 3 hours. I walk out to the patio and look at the glasses of gin we had before we went to sleep at 8:00 AM and I think to myself what an indulgent piece of shit I have been this weekend. My friend is nice enough to get me an Uber for helping her get the car off the tracks last night. I get back to my suitcase for the third day in a row and brush my teeth and wash off the previous night’s indulgences. Then I start the first journal entry of this piece which you may have already enjoyed.
After I hammer out the piece I walk to the hotel and look for a ride to my show at the Analog Theater. This show is actually titled “Happy Hour with Shane Torres” so I am sure that no one will be there, but to my surprise it is packed when I walk in. I wonder to myself if I looked at the schedule wrong, but I am in the right place. Alex Falcone, one of my good Portland buddies who I started stand-up with, is hosting the show. We catch up in the green room and shit on each other like old friends do. I have a moment of nostalgia as I watch Alex’s set and notice how much he has progressed as a performer. Then I shove that feeling down deep inside and get ready for my set. I take the stage and the set feels great. Alex and I decide to hit actual happy hour with some comics at The White Owl. This is a favorite bar of Portland comedians, a metal bar with great Moscow Mules and one of the dopiest patios in all of Portland. Being off for the rest of the night, I have my fill of drinks. After a few hours our group disperses to their various shows, and I decide to catch some comedians. I watch Baked, an incredible show in which Brendan Small (Metalocalypse) and Steve Agee (Sarah Silverman Program) play with a band and invite comedians to do a set and then perform a song. Aparna Nancherla crushes her set and sings a song. Then all of a sudden the rapidly approaching wall comes and I say fuck it I need to sleep. I call an old friend and she graciously allows me to sleep at her place. Some of you might ask “why did you not go home” and the answer is I don’t fucking know.
I wake up with no pants on and covered in Taco Bell. Clearly by this point I need to do some kind of reevaluation of my choices, but great news: I don’t. My phone is filled with texts saying “where the fuck are you” and “come out we are going to have a water balloon fight.” Sure enough, I check my friends’ Facebook pages and there are photos of drunk comedians who can’t throw a baseball to save their lives pelting each other with balloons. Looks like fun, but I am more than happy to have recharged my battery for a night. I go outside and it’s sweltering. Taking it easy I go out to breakfast and enjoy some much needed down time. Returning to my suitcase for the last time I clean up and head to my first show of the night at Analog. This show is comprised entirely of performers from the South. May of my favorites are on the show, but the AC is broken at Analog and upstairs is a sweat lodge. The show is light due to the heat, but the crowd is incredible. Sitting through the heat it feels more like a revival tent than a comedy show. I finish up and go to The Doug Fir to catch some of Eliza Skinner’s Turnt Up, a rap battle comedy show. It is full of people and watching these comics try to freestyle is the funniest damn thing I have seen all weekend. For people who talk for a living they are tripping over words like their shoelaces are tied together.
My next show is here and it is the closing show for this venue and I will be hosting.
The show fills out nicely and I get to see some of my favorites including Eddie Pepitone and Whitney Streed. It’s an oven in this venue so we throw bottles of water out to the crowd as the night ends and I am done with my shows for the fest. I walk over to the closing show which is Baron Vaughn’s Dirty 30. It’s exactly what it sounds like: 30 comedians telling their dirtiest material, for two minutes each. As I walk in the hilarious John F O’Donnell asks me if I want to go up as they had a drop out. I say sure and there is easily 400 people in the room. I wait my turn as about a dozen comedians go up before me and wrench groans and laughter out of the crowd, smiling to myself and taking pictures from the stage. I take my turn at the mic and the show ends shortly thereafter.
Thefinal party is great, but calmer than the ones that preceded it, as everyone is flying out in the morning. People are exhausted and saying sweet goodbyes as it will be another year before we have this moment again as a group. As last call happens I walk out and people are lingering out front. I say a few more goodbyes and someone announces an after after party at the hotel. I want to go, but I am finally out of gas and decide to spend a night where I had intended all along. I get back to my clothes and brush my teeth. As I am about to pass out on a beautiful air mattress with fresh sheets my phone vibrates. It’s from my buddy Ian Karmel. It’s a playful insult and it says he loves me and will see me soon.
I never went to summer camp, but I imagine Bridgetown Comedy Festival is a lot like summer camp. It’s exciting, exhausting, and memorable. I would also assume by the time it ends you’re both ready to go home but already looking forward to the next year. Just like Bridgetown.
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.