This Week in the Mercury

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Round Two


Round Two

The Ongoing Fight Over Airbnb Cash


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Sublime Beauty of Nathan Fielder's "Dumb Starbucks" Episode

Posted by Wm.™ Steven Humphrey on Wed, Jul 30, 2014 at 10:44 AM

Last night on the hilarious Comedy Central show Nathan for You, host Nathan Fielder debuted his "Dumb Starbucks" segment which took the internet and world by storm last year. A little catch up from Gawker:

Last year, news and gossip outlets lit up with news of a bratty David and Goliath prank going down in LA: A lookalike coffee place called "Dumb Starbucks" that served "Dumb Ventis" and offered "Dumb Norah Jones CDs." The seeming audacity and self-evident humor of a corporate takedown, however vague, generated massive buzz, as did the reveal that it was the basis for an episode of Comedy Central's Nathan For You. For the uninitiated, it was a perfect introduction to the show's charms, leading into the show's second season, which has since become a smash hit.

Here's a long clip from the episode, and dear god... it is truly a thing of sublime beauty. WATCH!!

And you can watch the entire episode here.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Emo Philips Is Coming Back to Portland in August!

Posted by Alison Hallett on Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 10:29 AM




The producers of the Bridgetown Comedy Fest have just announced a new series of comedy shows during the year, which is terrific news on its own—and it's made even terrific-er by the announcement of Emo Philips as the first headliner.

I lost my mind over Philips' performance on Paul Provenza's Setlist show at Bridgetown this year. It was hands-down, without a doubt, one of the most remarkable comedy performances I've ever seen. I'm so excited that he's coming back. He's an absolute living legend and if you've never seen him, you're in for a delightful morning on YouTube. Start here.

The show's Saturday, August 23 at the Bossonova Ballroom, 722 E Burnside, at 8 pm. Tickets are $20 and you can buy 'em here.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Steven Wilber Is Portland's New Funniest Person

Posted by Alison Hallett on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 11:59 AM

From left to right: Adam Pasi, Steven Wilber, Gabe Dinger

Well, that was unexpected! Last night was Helium Comedy Club's annual Portland's Funniest Person contest. The final round is always hosted by the previous year's winner; last night's host, Shane Torres, said that 180 people signed up for the contest this year, which are winnowed down over about a month (based on audience response in the early rounds, then by judges in the semifinals) to the final 12.

I've always been skeptical of Funniest Person's popularity-contest element—comics are given a bunch of free tickets to the contest's first round and encouraged to pack the house with supportive friends, and it's always seemed very likely that good comics could get ousted by less-talented standups with louder friends. I gotta say, though: Last night's lineup was a very good, very representative snapshot of comedy in Portland right now. I've been a judge at the final rounds for three years running now, and this year's lineup was easily the best.

And everyone did great, some technical difficulties notwithstanding (WTF was up with that mic?). To name check a few people: Gabe Dinger, Amy Miller, Sean Jordan, and Bri Pruett had some of the best sets I've ever seen from them, Jacob Christopher keeps getting funnier, and I'll put $5 on Stephanie Purtle being one of the best comics in town in a few years.

I was one of about nine judges, which means I got to weigh on on the outcome, though my opinions were not particularly well represented in the final decision. The other judges included the wonderful Portland comic Susan Rice, who shared my dismay that Bri Pruett didn't place; Ground Kontrol's Art Santana; three hosts of the podcast Funemployment Radio; a Seattle comedy booker; a guy who produces a sports radio show and goes by "Pork Chop"*. (If you enjoy counting these sorts of things—I do—there were three women judges, and three of the twelve comics performing were women.)

Continue reading »

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

I Shot a Gun For The First Time and It Was Pretty Fun I Guess

Posted by Alex Falcone on Tue, Jul 22, 2014 at 10:14 AM

I'd never touched a gun before. I'm not opposed to touching them, I just don't hang out in the kinds of places where people shoot things. I think the only time I'd even seen a gun close up was when I was a young punk hustling a poker game run by members from a motorcycle gang who liked to keep theirs on the table (this sounds like a lie, but it's totally not; even for a Reno kid I had an unconventional sense of fun). But when it wasn't quite hot enough to go swimming on Friday, my buddy decided we were gonna drive down to Gervais and play shotgun golf.

The activity is technically called "sporting clays" and is like skeet or trap shooting but with way more walking. I refuse to call anything "skeet shooting" because I've listened to too much hip hop and "sporting clays" makes it seem like aggressive pottery, so I'm going to stick with "shotgun golf." Also it did feature a miniature pencil, which by law, makes something golf.

What you do is walk around to different stations and shoot a gun at a series of flying plates that are trying to escape. You miss, of course, and the clay pigeon goes back to his clay family and then you mark a zero with your mini pencil and move on. It's fun. But for somebody who's never shot a gun before, it's also pretty surreal. Not that it's dangerous; what was so unnerving about it, I think, is that it doesn't feel dangerous at all.

From the minute I set foot on the property, it felt a little too relaxed. Maybe we were treated differently because my friend is a regular, but I kept waiting for the owner to ask for some proof that I'm not going to hurt myself or anybody else with this weapon (gun class registration card, name of my sensei, helmet). Nothing. There's a longer safety lecture when you play laser tag. Maybe for that reason, I felt pretty uncomfortable just holding the thing for the first few holes, assuming somebody was going to realize the oversight any moment and disarm me to protect society.

Face of a warrior.
  • Face of a warrior.

On the course there are no warning signs or safety notices besides "wear ear protection". My coffee cup has the word "caution" on it four times, but the shotgun they just handed to an idiot said nothing except "Barretta" which I assume is Italian for "Beverage is very hot." To add to the incongruity, we got talked into renting a cart to push around our guns, ammo, and extremely dangerous coffee and it looked an awful lot like a jogging stroller. We were fully prepared in case we wanted to take our twins Shock and Awe for a power walk through the Pearl.

The twins always fall asleep in the stroller.
  • The twins always fall asleep in the stroller.

I did hit a few targets, which only made the whole thing seem more farcical. This gun does so much of the work, somebody as incompetent as me was able to shoot more than a couple moving targets. At the same time (and to my delight) I was able to capture 100% of the blackberries I came across along the course. It turns out I'm more of a gatherer than a hunter.

As I mentioned, it is fun. Like bowling and frisbee golf and war got together and made a baby. But laser tag is also fun and despite the zealous safety officers at Qzar, I don't think anybody could die playing that. Shotgun golf is also expensive (around $50/person for the half course w/ gun, ammo, and stroller) and for that money I could humiliate kids wearing little laser vests all day and still have money left for bumper boats.

Salem Trap & Skeet Club
6181 Concomly Rd.
Gervais, OR 97026
Summer hours: Wednesday through Sunday
10am - 6pm


Friday, July 18, 2014

Delightful Creeps Conan O'Brien and Dave Franco Join Tinder

Posted by Wm.™ Steven Humphrey on Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 1:59 PM

In this great remote (which Conan O'Brien legitimately excels at), Conan and super cute Dave Franco make profiles on Tinder, find a suitable match, and then travel together for their scheduled hook up in their van called, "Brown Lightning." SO MUCH ADORABLE FUN.

Rah Rah, It's Another Weird Al Video

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 12:59 PM

This Week of Weird Al has been a blog-embedder's nightmare, as each of the eight videos Weird Al Yankovic is premiering as part of the promotion for his new album, Mandatory Fun, has come from a different website, almost all of whom want to drive traffic to their site. Still, with a bit of elbow grease, it's possible find the embed code and jam it into our blog. Today's video comes from the annoyingly hard-to-embed Funny or Die, and it's for a Weird Al original rather than a parody of a recent pop hit. "Sports Song" is willfully generic, taking a very simple joke (and one that has been done to annoying extents on Twitter over and again), but it carries it all the way into the end zone (see what I did there)? This isn't a laugh-out-loud-hilarious home run or anything, but I admire Al's stick-to-it-ive-ness and the almost retro quality of this kind of novelty song. Go sports team!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Weird Al Is Handy and Disappointing

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Thu, Jul 17, 2014 at 11:14 AM

Date: Thursday, July 17, 2014
Artist: "Weird Al" Yankovic
Video: "Handy"
Number in Mandatory Fun video series: Four of out eight
Song parodied: Iggy Azalea's "Fancy"
Cameos: Eddie Pepitone, Justin Giddings, Ted Hollis (who?)
Comments: This is easily the worst of the bunch so far. I don't think I cracked a smile with this one. Considering how fun the first three videos were, I'll let it slide. But this was disappointing. Also, I am so sick of "Fancy" that even a parody of it is annoying.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Day Three of Weird Al: Lorde's "Royals" Becomes "Foil"

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Wed, Jul 16, 2014 at 10:44 AM

It's a tradition only three days old, but one I've fully embraced: waking up and finding there's a brand-new, hilarious Weird Al Yankovic video on the internet. Today, Al skewers Lorde's "Royals"—actually, the parody has very little to do with the song—and the video stars Patton Oswalt and The State/Reno 911's Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant. "Foil" takes a nice twist about halfway through.

This series of eight videos is to promote Weird Al's new album Mandatory Fun, a conventional, 12-song record that is available in physical and digital formats. A piece in Grantland today suggests that it might be Weird Al's last attempt at a traditional record album, and that his brand of parody is much better suited to respond to things in internet/digital time. (For example, Lorde's "Royals" originally came out more than a year ago.) I personally would love to have Al drop things onto YouTube as soon as he's done with 'em; these eight days of Al have been a total delight so far, and it's been an experience wholly separate from that of buying an album, putting it on, and listening. For that matter, I'm probably not going to buy Mandatory Fun, anyway. Should Weird Al videos just show up on the internet at random intervals? Is his music/comedy better suited to the viral medium than the traditional record-album one? I'd suggest yes, perhaps so.

Either way, we've got five more days of Weird Al coming up!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tonight on Drunk History: Kris Kristofferson Meets Johnny Cash

Posted by Wm.™ Steven Humphrey on Tue, Jul 15, 2014 at 3:44 PM

In case you haven't noticed, I'm a huge fan of Comedy Central's Drunk History (on tonight at 10 pm)—primarily because it's hilarious to watch drunk people recount historical events. But it's also because they choose really interesting stories, and I learn a LOT of history. For example, here's a clip from tonight's show on "American Music," which tells the story of how Kris Kristofferson (played by Jon Daly) met Johnny Cash (Johnny Knoxville), and wrote his most famous song, "Sunday Morning Comin' Down." Yay drunk people!


Yay, More Weird Al! Check Out "Word Crimes"

Posted by Wm.™ Steven Humphrey on Tue, Jul 15, 2014 at 10:29 AM

If you loved yesterday's debut of Weird Al's "Tacky," here's #2 in his eight days of new videos from his Mandatory Fun album... a parody of that idiot tool Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines"—this time titled "Word Crimes." It's perfect for all you grammartarians! (Is that a word?)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Weird Al's Brand-New Video Is the First of Eight

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Mon, Jul 14, 2014 at 12:29 PM


It is a good day—for it is the First of Eight Days of New Weird Al Yankovic Videos. Weird Al's new album, Mandatory Fun, comes out tomorrow, and he's promoting it by premiering a new video every day for eight days. Yes!

First up is "Tacky"—a spoof of Pharrell's "Happy," obviously. The video stars Yankovic with Aisha Tyler, Margaret Cho, Eric Stonestreet, Kristen Schaal, and Jack Black, but the real stars are Al's spot-on lyrics, which might very apply to you. The video comes from Nerdist, and their dumb embeddable link is an autoplay, so click the jump for the video.

Ah. Today just got immeasurably better.

Continue reading »

The Onion's Movie Critic Reviews Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Posted by Paul Constant on Mon, Jul 14, 2014 at 9:59 AM

It takes a while to get going, but this "review" really builds to something quite special.

(The weird thing is, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is actually pretty good.)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

This Weekend's Comedy Pick: David Huntsberger

Posted by Alison Hallett on Thu, Jul 10, 2014 at 11:44 AM

I'm a big fan of comedian David Huntsberger. Here are the notes on his set I took at Bridgetown a couple years ago:


Which, really, covers all the bases for me. His album Explosion Land is solid, too—he's a super-smart comic with a curious, skeptical sensibility. And also really good at riding horses? (His recent WTF interview hinges in large part on Maron having trouble wrapping his head around the fact that Huntsberger grew up in the rodeo world.)

This weekend, he's performing at Funny Over Everything on Friday—Ian Karmel was just added to the bill too, so that's fun—and at Picture This on Saturday, both at 10 pm at Curious Comedy. I haven't seen the Portland iteration of Picture This, but it's a spinoff of an LA show that projects live drawings from cartoonists during comics' set. The result, at least the time I saw the show, is a kind of cross-disciplinary banter, with both people working off each other in creative ways. If you like seeing comics do nontraditional sets, Saturday's the better bet.

Robert Ham interviewed David Huntsberger in the paper this week—it's worth a read, and you'll find more show details there too.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

It's On TV Tonight: Drunk History and Nathan For You

Posted by Wm.™ Steven Humphrey on Tue, Jul 1, 2014 at 2:29 PM

Tonight marks the hilarious second season premieres for Comedy Central's Drunk History (10 pm) and Nathan for You (10:30 pm)—and if you're a laffy-pants, you'll love 'em both. To catch you up, in Drunk History, host Derek Waters has legitimately drunk people recount historic events, while famous people act them out. IT IS SO FUNNY. And ya learn stuff, too! Check out this preview that recounts the story of pioneering black scientist Percy Julian—and how he learned to make steroids out of soybeans instead of "horse dick."

That's followed by Nathan For You, starring comedian Nathan Fielder, who helps struggling businesses by giving them ideas that are absolutely TERRIBLE in every conceivable way. Here's a clip of Nathan "helping" an auto mechanic whose customers apparently don't trust him.

Psst! If you're curious for a behind-the-scenes peek at how Drunk History is made, check this out.


Friday, June 27, 2014

Part 3 of "Triumph Watches the World Cup": The Final Sniff

Posted by Wm.™ Steven Humphrey on Fri, Jun 27, 2014 at 10:14 AM

Yes, part one and part two of "Triumph the Insult Comic Dog Watches the World Cup" was hilarious... but in his final installment, he really goes out with a bang! (Multiple bangs, actually. And some sniffs!) Don't miss this one, it's a gut-buster!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Triumph the Insult Comic Dog: Now With Even MORE World Cup Insults

Posted by Wm.™ Steven Humphrey on Thu, Jun 26, 2014 at 2:14 PM

Following his hilarious attack on World Cup fans yesterday, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog returns to insult even MORE nationalities. This time he's really letting the English, Japanese, and Italians have it! (I'm sorry, but racism is just funnier when it comes from a dog puppet.)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Season Two Trailer for Nathan for You

Posted by Wm.™ Steven Humphrey on Wed, Jun 25, 2014 at 2:59 PM

You remember comedian Nathan Fielder as the mastermind behind the "Dumb Starbucks" and "pig rescuing a baby goat" pranks, right? Well, Nathan is back for his second season of the verrrry funny Nathan for You—returning on Comedy Central, July 1, 10:30 pm. Here's the season two trailer in which Nathan makes some very unsuccessful attempts at saving some floundering businesses... such as installing a polygraph machine to help an auto mechanic prove his honesty, and boosting sales at a liquor store by selling booze to minors. (Uh-oh.)

Triumph the Insult Comic Dog Humps the World Cup

Posted by Wm.™ Steven Humphrey on Wed, Jun 25, 2014 at 9:59 AM

Triumph the Insult Comic Dog returns—this time to piddle all over the World Cup (which he calls "porn in reverse"), and in particular Colombian and Greek soccer fans in NYC. (While they may not have won the game everyone learns some good lessons... like to never take on Triumph in a "your mama" joke competition.)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Funny or Die Takes on Gov. Rick Perry

Posted by Wm.™ Steven Humphrey on Thu, Jun 19, 2014 at 2:59 PM

As Paul recently mentioned, Gov. Rick Perry has been furiously backpedaling in regards to his absolutely stupid, "homosexuality is akin to alcoholism" remarks. And right on cue, here's a very humorous Funny or Die video starring comedian James Adomian as Rick Perry answering questions about the incident in front of a very gay press corps. This should sufficiently bury Perry's dum-dum idea FOREVER.


Lizzy Caplan is Distracted by the Penis in My Pants

Posted by Wm.™ Steven Humphrey on Thu, Jun 19, 2014 at 10:29 AM

The very funny and talented Lizzy Caplan (Masters of Sex) visits Comedy Bang! Bang! tonight (IFC, 10 pm), and gets into a very interesting conversation with host Scott Aukerman about why men aren't funny. Turns out, they can't be. It's biological. God, I wish I were funny. God-damn penis!! You ruin EVERYTHING!!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Someone Wrongly Thinks Jay Leno is Funny

Posted by Wm.™ Steven Humphrey on Wed, Jun 18, 2014 at 10:14 AM

From Variety:

Comedian Jay Leno has been tapped by the Kennedy Center to receive this year’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

“Like Mark Twain, Jay Leno has offered us a lifetime’s worth of humorous commentary on American daily life,” said Kennedy Center chairman David M. Rubenstein. “For both men, no one was too high or too low to escape their wit, and we are all the better for it.”

Previous recipients of the kudo include Richard Pryor, Jonathan Winters, Carl Reiner, Whoopi Goldberg, Bob Newhart, Lily Tomlin, Lorne Michaels, Steve Martin, Neil Simon, Billy Crystal, George Carlin, Bill Cosby, Tina Fey, Will Ferrell and Ellen DeGeneres and last year’s honoree, Carol Burnett.

Let's vote on that.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Brian Williams Raps "Baby Got Back"

Posted by Wm.™ Steven Humphrey on Tue, Jun 17, 2014 at 10:14 AM

While I think I prefer the glorious mashup of Brian Williams rapping "Gin and Juice," this Jimmy Fallon video of Brian doing Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back" touches something in my primordial brain. AND I LIKE IT. (Touch it again!)

Work Schmerk Will Totally Make You Feel Better About Your Crappy Job

Posted by Temple Lentz on Tue, Jun 17, 2014 at 9:59 AM


Attention wage slaves and former wage slaves! Go see Work Schmerk and feel better about all the shitty jobs you’ve ever had to do.

You know that thing where you go to a party and someone asks (because they always ask), “And what do YOU do?” And maybe you’re lucky enough to have a job you like and feel OK about hanging your entire identity on, but maybe you’re not? Jay Flewelling knows that feeling. He’s worked a lot of odd jobs (Literally. The man has worked some literally very odd jobs.), but he finally figured out that it’s his dream of writing, performing and producing that defines him. For Flewelling (as it is for a lot of us), it’s not his job that defines him, but his work.

Flewelling is a well-known favorite face on Portland’s comedy stages. He performs with the Curious Comedy Players; with the improv troupe Administration; as a storyteller with the Moth, Live Wire, and Campfire; and as a stand-up comedian. He also produces Comedy Grab Bag at Action/Adventure Theater and Friday Night Fights at Curious Comedy Theater. He’s all over town, and he’s good at what he does. Flewelling is one of Portland’s most affable, intelligent, and funny performers and it’s a thrill to see him create a work that is entirely his own.

In Work Schmerk, Flewelling walks through the strange jobs and stranger co-workers he’s held over the last number of years. From working at the discount grocery in Gresham to teaching health and life skills in Alaska, to physically counting money in a bank vault, and a lot in between, Flewelling has held some weird jobs. In this show, he recounts some of his stories, re-creates some of the characters he worked with, and offers articulate and complex running commentary with a crispness and precision that makes him a joy to watch on stage.

This is Flewelling’s first one-man show, and he worked with writer/director Caitlin Kunkel (Second City Chicago, The Brody Theater) to sharpen his words and performance. They’ve been working on this show for months, and their dedication shows. Flewelling delivers a solid performance of great material. The show is two nights only, Tuesday and Wednesday at 8pm at Coho Theater 2257 NW Raleigh. Get tickets here. Go see it. It’s worth it.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Fake Shane Torres Is the Best Twitter Account Ever

Posted by Alison Hallett on Mon, Jun 9, 2014 at 12:28 PM

Ah, okay, maybe this is a little insider-baseball, but fans of Portland comedy will appreciate the fact that someone snagged the Twitter handle @ShaneTorres and is using it to mercilessly parody the real Shane Torres (@SyrupMountain).

The joke, see, is that a lot of Shane's material hinges around life being kind of a bummer. Also, mall food courts.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

New Material Seinfeld = Best Seinfeld

Posted by Wm.™ Steven Humphrey on Thu, Jun 5, 2014 at 1:59 PM

On last night's UNFAIRLY cancelled Pete Holmes Show, "New Material Seinfeld" (a puppet Seinfeld that drops by on occasion to try out new comedy material) stopped by with some comedy that... ummm... well, it definitely needs work. But it's still funnier than anything the actual Seinfeld has said in ages! Check it out.

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