Who’s Who at Portland Sketch Comedy Festival 2022

It feels like the week the Portland comedy came to life. There’s a real stew of interesting comedians touring the city, Comedy in the Park is getting underway, and the Portland Sketch Comedy Festival is set to return after a two-year necessary pandemic hiatus.

This is the fourth year. The festival began in 2017, as a collaborative vision shared by Siren Theater owner and Aces half Shelley McLendon and Nacho Gold founding member Ted Douglass. According to the caption and press release, they were both inspired by sketch festivals in other cities. It seemed obvious that Portland should also host one and invite other sketch troupes to visit.

Frequently overlooked in favor of its comedic form siblings – stand-up and improv – sketch comedy is arguably the most satisfying for mainstream audiences. Most will be familiar with sketch comedy from popular shows like Saturday Night Live, Mr. Showor Canada Children in the room. It’s scripted, thoughtful, and often represents the creative power of multiple writers.

The Portland Sketch Festival tends to skew improvisation (especially troupes that allow improvisers into their ranks), but it’s well organized. Every band that goes on stage has its funny guys.

The Brunch duo from Vancouver, BC is a great example of what can be done with fitness. In the festival’s first year, Allie Entwistle and Kerri Donaldson layered multiple joke tales, until their doomed witch and epaulette-clad motivational speaker personas team up for world domination. We always recommend brunch, and it’s great to see them on two evening shows (Fri 8 p.m., Sat 8 p.m.) This year.

You’ll also want to look for the Portland Powerhouse, the Sisters of Mercy (Fri 7 p.m.), which includes Laura Sams, Lori Ferraro, Stumptown Improv Festival co-founder Erin Jean O’Regan, and McLendon herself. Ferraro, O’Regan and McLendon also perform with local sketch stalwarts, the Lone Wolves (Sat 7 p.m.).

This year’s new faces include TSTMRKT (Sat 9 p.m.): a collective of performance art school dropouts whose common thread is the playwright Earnest Hemmings. Hailing from Las Vegas, the troupe promises to “confuse and entertain” their audiences with a series of scenes “formulated and staged without regard to audience reaction”. Exciting! Or intimidating? Portland Sketch Fest has your laughter on the program.

The Portland Sketch Comedy Festival will be held at the Siren Theater, 315 NW Davis, Thursday, July 21 through Saturday, July 23, times and tickets here, $12-$60