Last night, 8 comedians competed for the title of "Portland's Funniest Person" at Helium Comedy Club—it was a pretty good show across the bar, but as I turned in my judging scorecard I got the impression that the other judges were on the same page about the top three: After Karmel, Tim Hammer and Shane Torres placed second and third, respectively. I'd seen Karmel and Torres before but Tim Hammer was a new one for me: His deadpan delivery and string of unrelated one-liners ("Raisins aren't what they used to be") should in no way have worked as well as it did. Randy Mendez also turned in a strong set—I'd have been just as happy to see him in third place as Torres. Meanwhile, host Jackie Kashian won an enduring place in my heart with a well-placed Handmaid's Tale reference and a few good cat jokes. (She has a podcast called The Dork Forest where she interviews people about their dorky obsessions; she also killed it opening for Maria Bamford on Saturday night—along with the very funny local Gabe Dinger—in what was easily one of the best comedy shows I've ever seen.)
Anyway, congrats to Karmel, who can now add "funniest person" to his list of local plaudits. I asked him what he plans to do with his $1,000 winnings—"All I really like doing is comedy," he replied. "Probably take another trip to LA with it." (And then he asked if I could append "he said handsomely" to his quotes. COMEDIANS.) I've got video of Tim Hammer and Shane Torres after the jump.