Theater

Q&A: Matt Braunger

Portland's Most Successful Locally Grown Comedian Returns

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MERCURY: Along with Andy Wood and Kim Brady, you're credited as a cofounder of Portland's Bridgetown Comedy Festival. How did it come about?

MATT BRAUNGER: For a while around 2005-2006, I would come back to Portland to visit, and a promoter friend would let me use the Towne Lounge (RIP) to do shows. Two shows would cover my plane ticket and I'd stay at my parents' house. I met Andy and had him open for me a couple times. He and Kimberly asked me over a couple beers if they should start their own comedy festival in Portland and I said absolutely. I'm over the moon that it's gone so well. My "producing" job is mostly to ask my famous friends to do it. I think the vision we all had for it was to showcase smart, original comedy and expose Portland to the artists we know and love. It's definitely lived up to and beyond any expectations I had.

How does it feel to finally headline an actual comedy club in Portland, and how do you see stand-up in Portland today?

Headlining in my hometown has always been a dream, for sure. As for the comedy scene in Portland, I love seeing how far it's come over the past decade or so. The great thing about comedy in general right now is that most people who have any sense know that doing it for the money is idiotic. You can count maybe 10 comics who are rich as fuck, but after that the drop-off is huge. So, most people I know doing it are trying to do the stuff they like, not what they think will sell. This is especially apparent in Portland. Really great writing, perspectives, and presentations abound. I don't see that stopping anytime soon. I grew up being exposed to so many kinds of art in this town, a lot of it downright bananas. Why shouldn't stand-up have a nice piece of the weird art pie?

What was your experience with MADtv? I found that the show was not really representative of your stand-up.

It was fun, overall, mostly because I didn't think I had a chance in hell of getting the job. I don't do impressions and have very few characters in my act. The best thing about it was writing stuff that would get on TV, watching teamsters build sets based on your ideas, and working with funny friends.

Bottom line, what they did is not really what I do. I mean, I grew up in Portland, developed my act in dive bars and theaters in Chicago, and now am a featured performer at the Upright Citizens Brigade in LA. I don't really do bits about Britney Spears or the Jonas Brothers. Still, it was a great couple of months and there's nothing like having your own trailer with a little fridge to hold your beers. I still miss it sometimes.

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