Portland has established itself as a place that, put simply, produces extremely funny people. Whether it’s a national headliner at the glamorous Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall or an open mic in Al’s Den, visitors can find comedy every night in this city. Keep an eye out for these exceptionally funny Portlanders, past and present:
See him: On TV
Many local comedians regard Ian Karmel as the catalyst that jump-started the Portland comedy scene. Karmel stormed onto the scene as an improviser and quickly established himself as a stand- up powerhouse, writing strong, relatable premises with a uniquely Portland perspective. Karmel moved to Los Angeles in 2013, landed a job writing on Chelsea Lately, and is now a staff writer on The Late Late Show with James Corden. But despite living in L.A., Karmel is truly a native Portland son. He reps the town with the fervor of a pop-up kombucha shop and still writes a weekly column for the Portland Mercury.
See him: On TV
Originally hailing from Salem, an hour south of Portland, Ron Funches is known nationwide for his unique comedic personality. His slow cadence, comforting whispers and sunny disposition make this native Oregonian stand out in a world of cynical fast-talkers. His recent TV credits have included Undateable, Comedy Central’s Drunk History and Kroll Show, John Oliver’s New York Stand Up Show and many other late-night shows, including Conan.
See her: In Portland
Whitney Streed has long been the glue that binds Portland’s comedy community, serving as a producer on the best shows in town, including Rants Off Dance Off at Curious Comedy Theater and Comedy In Space at the Mission Theater. Her fellow comedians say she’s funny, understanding, fair and one of the best wordsmiths around. When she’s not producing great shows, Streed has been known to open for nationally touring headliner Maria Bamford and is also a producer for the Bridgetown Comedy Festival.
See him: In New York City
Former Last Comic Standing contestant Shane Torres uses his gift for humor to tap into the Rose City’s rainy, existential underbelly in an incredibly funny way — which is easier said than done. Voted Portland’s Funniest Person in 2013, Torres now works as a featured comic in New York City and has opened for folks like Matt Braunger, Kyle Kinane and Dave Attel.
See her: In Portland
Almost every comic has been afraid at some point on stage, but Kristine Levine doesn’t appear to experience that fear. This comedian doesn’t stick to safe, lighthearted topics, preferring to recount the messy moments of raising a son, removing a memorial cross on Interstate 84 and calling out Bruce Springsteen. Levine regularly opens for Doug Stanhope, has performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and frequently acts on Portlandia.
Regular comedy shows
But that’s not all! Portland is also home to a slew of great comedy shows:
Funny Over Everything
Formerly the project of Ian Karmel, Shane Torres and Sean Jordan, Portland’s mainstay indie theater show still takes place monthly at the Hollywood Theatre. This is a great chance for touring headliners to perform in a one-night theater setting. Past guest performers include national names like Moshe Kasher, Hannibal Buress and Doug Benson.
Lez Stand Up
Hosted by Caitlin Weirehauser, Laura Anne Whitley and Kristin Kuppenbender, Lez Stand Up cheekily bills itself as “maybe the first show that is lesbian, feminist AND funny.” This show at Curious Comedy Theater is a safe space for women and queer-identifying folk, although people of all identities are welcome to attend and laugh along.
The Dirty Dozen
This monthly showcase at Helium Comedy Club is designed for comics to push the upper filth limits in ways that would make a weathered fisherman yell, “Too much!” Go to this show with an open mind, and be prepared to cringe and crack up at the raunchy material of a dozen “surprise comics.”
Looking for even more comedy greatness? Check out our guide to Portland comedy venues and visit the city in June for the annual Bridgetown Comedy Festival. You can also peruse the PDX Comedy Blog for more information on showcases, open mics and other comedy news.