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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Portland Comedy Time Capsule: "Say Something Funny"

Posted by Alison Hallett on Thu, Jan 31, 2013 at 4:44 PM

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I'm compiling a list of Portland's open mic comedy nights (put 'em in the comments, please), and so I've spent the afternoon trawling around Google for variations of "Portland," "comedy," and "open mic."

In my searching, I ran across an article that former Mercury arts editor Justin W. Sanders wrote in 2002. It's about Portland's comedy scene at the time, and it's titled "Say Something Funny," after pretty much the lamest audience heckle there is.

Justin writes about a comedy scene with four open mics and 30 comics—a fraction of what this town's got these days. I recognized some of the names in the article: Auggie Smith and Lonnie Bruhn are both still working, and Kevin-Michael Moore still helms the long-running open mic at the Boiler Room. Rob Osbourne's name pops up now and then, though I don't know if he's still in Portland or not.

But here's the best part: In this week's paper, I wrote about CHAD Chats, the satirical take on TED Talks that's happening tonight at the Jack London. I didn't recognize one of the names on the bill, Danny Norton, and couldn't find much about his work when I looked him up. I wrote as much in the paper:


DANNY NORTON—We don't really know who Danny Norton is. Sorry, Danny Norton. But we like the name of your presentation: "A Self-Referential Guide to Meta." Good one!

I should've searched our own archives, though, because Norton makes a pretty amazing starring appearance in Justin's story:


Danny Norton has taken the stage. Danny is also known as "The Mailman," as he frequently performs while wearing an official postman's outfit. Tonight, "gone postal" will be the appropriate nickname. He is two jokes deep into his set, something about quitting smoking, when one of the cowboy hats rears back and screams, "HA HA HA! THAT'S THE FUNNIEST FUCKING THING I'VE EVER HEARD!" It's clear that the man didn't even hear Danny's joke, and the wake of his awful, violent interruption is a long and terrible silence.

And then, tiny in comparison—but tiny like a mosquito that flits right into the ear canal:

"Say something funny!"

Danny grabs the mic and jumps off the stage. He stalks over to the bar, wraps the mic cord around the moron's neck, and chokes him. The crowd watches in horrified awe. Nobody moves to stop him; nobody says a word. The moron protests feebly. Danny releases him, hurls the microphone back on the stage, and storms out of sight.

Now I know who Danny Norton is.

Anyway, if you're a fan of Portland comedy, go read the article and marvel at how much things have changed.

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