Lez Stand Out: Bridgetown Comedy Fest

Bridgetown Comedy fest is a comedy fan’s Christmas. In its six years, it is the place that enabled my own comedy obsession, allowing me to mingle with the best of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Held in queer mecca, Portland, Oregon, Bridgetown is where I first saw Maria Bamford perform, as well as Tig Notoro and Janeane Garofalo. The minute this year’s lineup was announced, I spent my Friday night strategically mapping out my itinerary for the coming weekend. Seems I’m going to get the chance to see some of my favorites, Candy Lawrence, Mo Welch, Rhea Butcher and Cameron Esposito, as well as an array of new faces.

I made it my mission to laboriously hunt down some of this year’s up-and-comers in order to see what I was in store for. I took no joy in creeping funny ladies on the web, I assure you. What I found was an amazingly diverse group of comics who are keeping both Bridgetown and their local comedy scenes queer and roaring with laughter. Here’s a little intro to some of the ladies of Bridgetown.

Becca O’Neal

A self-proclaimed comedy nerd, Becca wrote about comedy for Splitsider for a number of years before giving it a try herself. She turned a knack for writing about comedy into a successful run at stand-up, with Twitter as her gateway drug. Since then, she’s performed all over, from the Ohio Lesbian Festival to last year’s Chicago Women Funny Festival.

On Getting Started:

I collect old albums and spent A LOT of time on forums like ASpecialThing.com dissecting all things comedy news, theory, etc with people who consumed it as voraciously as I did and still do. I dipped my toe in writing comedically on Twitter and somehow I worked up the courage to actually go to an open mic — Cole’s in Chicago — last February.

On Twitter Fame:

I was featured a couple years back as one of 18 Funny Women to Follow on Twitter by Huff Po comedy — this was before I started stand up — and honestly, that was one of the reasons I decided to take the leap into telling jokes on stage. Sharing my jokes with people I couldn’t see on the Internet was nice, but the more immediate feedback of live performance felt like a natural progression. I’ve met tons of interesting and funny people through Twitter and the internet — and it’s a great way to work out concentrated versions of jokes before you get them to the stage.

On Unique Perspectives:

I feel that everything that makes me ME gives me an advantage and unique perspective. I don’t know that my voice is very common in comedy right now. Black, female, not-straight — I consider myself a cautious hedonist really, which is ridiculous. But for any person hoping to perform and hone their voice, you’ve got to mine every part of your experience to do so.

On Inspiration:

Maria Bamford is brilliant; she can make the saddest, most uncomfortable parts of life hilarious and universal.

On Bridgetown Comedy Fest:

I’m a fairly new comic. This is my first time PERFORMING in a festival. I’ve covered them in the past as a journalist — Just For Laughs in Chicago last year was amazing just as a spectator. So to be on the other side of the looking glass just a year later is insane to say the very least. It’s like the Ascended Fangirl trope in real life.

What’s Next?

Currently, Becca is co-producing Congrats On Your Success, a free comedy show held the first Thursday of the month at Uncharted Books in Chicago. Check her out at this year’s Just For Laughs showcase and on Twitter @becca_oneal.