Discovery and Excitement: Bridgetown 2013 Day 1
As I write this over two hundred comedians are in various states of asleep/brunching/hung-over as day two of The Bridgetown Comedy Festival rubs the salt out of its eyes. Tonight the festival reaches cruising altitude. We are free to move about the Hawthorne, with eyes on showtimes and schedules.
What I love about this festival is discovering new talent. (New from my perspective. Anyone here has chops, and a name.) Take San Francisco’s Caitlin Gill, for instance. A couple performers caught my attention this way at the Bagdad Opening show, with Dana Gould as the headliner. As seemed to to be the case last year on opening day as well, there was a certain amount of ice-breaking going on. Gill was the first on the bill. She had an amazing physicality to her performance. It was plastic and rubber like a posable toy how she contorted and goofed. Talk of discount lingerie and salacious C++ won the day. Later on in that same show Seth Herzog dressed as Wonder Woman underscored the horrific possibilities of intention vs reality when it comes to costumes. He was the first to go into the events in Boston, which will surely be an ongoing theme this weekend. I’m glad to take jokes over 24 hour news.
The standout performer from the Bagdad opening show for me was Kate Berlant, out of NYC. What she does seems to be very improvisational, in the moment. There is something in what she does that reminds me of an Eddie Pepitone, or Pete Holmes. It’s something about being present, something with an obvious conceit that still d doesn’t keep you at a distance. I was really curious to see what was from the act and what was extemporaneous, so I went to her next show at the Mt Tabor as well.
Don’t Get Bored of Us and Leave, hosted by David Dineen-Porter and Tom Henry is the aforementioned comedians’ Toronto show, brought brick by brick to Portland. Porter and Henry reminded me of the two Johns from They Might be Giants. One boisterous (Porter) and one more taciturn (Henry) They got a lot of milage out of anti-funny being funny. Bridgetown is a place for playing around for smart audiences; it would be hard to say if they’d find success with their schtick among the regulars. Here it was eaten like crispy poutine.
DGBUL featured Peter Serafinowicz headlining as Paul McCartney, constantly reminding us that he is 70, doing songs “legally allowed to sing.” An updated ‘When I’m 64’ shined a clear light on Serafinowicz’ talent. We are lucky to have him here. After that Natasha Leggero did a drop in set, extolling the virtues of being fancy, and hilarious. All of that was awesome, but it was my curiosity about Berlant that brought me here.
Berlant’s second set answered some questions. There was the same surreal sense of inclusion between her and the audience, the same indication that all of this was brand new. There’s the act, and some of the same jokes, but the context was different enough the illusion of it all being brand new works. At least on me.
The next three days will bring a whole disfunction of comedians (Dana Gould’s term- stealing it) into our awareness as Bridgetown festival-goers. When it is all said and done, the list of comedians to seek out, albums to purchase, and careers to follow will provide interest and laughs for the year to come.
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