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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Final Thoughts on Bridgetown

Posted by Alison Hallett on Thu, May 15, 2014 at 12:16 PM

Janet Varney and Carrie Brownstein at the JV Club podcast taping.
  • Pat Moran
  • Janet Varney and Carrie Brownstein at the JV Club podcast taping.

I know, it's so last weekend. But the Bridgetown Comedy fest is one of the biggest events on the local arts calendar, up there with TBA and Wordstock, and after all the show-recapping is over, it's worth taking a step back to look at how the festival as a whole unfolded.

This year, the festival's seventh, was a pivotal one: Bridgetown essentially moved their base of operations to the Jupiter Hotel, where many of the comics were staying. With two onsite venues, plus the Bossonova and the (relatively) nearby White Owl and Analog Café, the addition of the Jupiter divided the festival between inner Southeast and the 50th and Hawthorne zone where Bridgetown has historically been based.

And I think it suffered a bit for it, or at least my experience did. My hope for next year is that the festival moves out of upper Hawthorne altogether. As much as I like seeing shows at the Eagles Lodge, the logistics of venue-hopping this year meant I couldn't see as many shows as I wanted to, and the ones I did see I sort of felt trapped at—unlike in years past, when if I didn't like what was happening at BOG I could just duck my head into the Tanker, knowing I was at the festival's epicenter and that all the comics I wanted to see were within a 10-block radius. That, I think, is what gave the festival its oft-cited "summer camp" vibe, and created a really unique experience for both audiences and comedians. Bridgetown has clearly outgrown those original SE Hawthorne venues, but I think it'd be possible to recapture that feeling in inner Southeast. There are plenty of venues and bar spaces walkable to the Jupiter that could accommodate mics—Norse Hall, B Side, the Lovecraft, East End. Sure, you'd lose out on the big room at the Alhambra, but... the floors there are really sticky.

One surprise takeaway for me this year: I'd never been to 7th & Hawthorne's Analog Café before, because their booking doesn't do much for me (it's very burlseque-y, which is fine, but not really my scene). But it's huge! There are two stages in there! And at least one of 'em is great for comedy—I caught the tail end of a W. Kamau Bell headlining set in the upstairs bar, well as an all-gay showcase where James Adomian just crushed. I'd love to see more standup in that venue, assuming the bartenders can be persuaded not to talk through comics' sets.

So, overall: I saw some great stuff this year, but it felt more like a regular festival—circling shows on the program, coordinating transportation, waiting in lines—and less like a magical hilarious reprieve from the crushing burdens of everyday existence. How did everyone else feel about it?

After the jump, a photo dump of Pat Moran's pictures from the festival.

Baron Vaughn
  • Pat Moran
  • Everybody loves Baron Vaughn now, right?

Australian comic Wil Anderson, who should just move here already.
  • Pat Moran
  • Australian comic Wil Anderson, who should just move here already.

Rebecca ONeal, pansexual hedonist
  • Pat Moran
  • Rebecca O'Neal, "pansexual hedonist"

The excellent Sean OConnor valiantly pulls the room together at a mostly-empty White Owl closing night show.
  • Pat Moran
  • The excellent Sean O'Connor valiantly pulls the room together at a mostly-empty White Owl closing night show.

James Adomian :D :D <3 <3 <3

Austin comic Caroline Bassett. This kids going places.
  • Pat Moran
  • Austin comic Caroline Bassett. This kid's going places.

Nerdists Jonah Ray, less than sober.
  • Pat Moran
  • Nerdist's Jonah Ray, less than sober.

Tons more photos here!

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