It was clear that everyone was having a good time at the Bridgetown showcase of Minority Retort. By chance I ended up with what feels like the perfect seat at a comedy show: behind two happily drunk friends whose laughter rose above everyone else’s, acting as a double-bounce to my own amusement.
After an introduction from local comic and show producer Jeremy Eli, Seattle’s Wilfred Padua came on stage and discussed Portland and Seattle’s similarities on the weirdness scale; he’d recently seen someone walking to work on stilts through his neighborhood (let’s get on that, Portland). Before his set was over, Padua also got in a crowd-pleasing observation of how similar in appearance Donald Trump as a baby would be to his current state. Next up was Arish Singh, who gave the show its lone instance of ventriloquism. In this case the dummy was a neo-Nazi. Singh played the joke as a parody of Jeff Dunham and ventriloquism itself, asking the audience, “How is this still a thing?”
Irene Tu took the stage next, immediately clarifying her gender and confiding that she frequently gets mistaken for a teenage Asian boy. Tu’s set expanded on this as she discussed the struggles she faces in using bathrooms: women sometimes mistake her for a man, and peeing in the stalls of men’s bathrooms poses the awkwardness of appearing to take a thirty-second poop. Bathrooms came up again during Marcella Arguello’s set later in the night, and she had what sounds like a perfect solution to the whole thing.
“If we are going to split up bathrooms,” she said, “it should be between people who clean up after themselves and those who don’t.” The 6-foot-2 Arguello also included some tall-person observations (“the tops of your fridges are fucking disgusting”) and performed a hilarious and overall mind-blowing impression of Michael Jackson asking her out, mid-Thriller video.
The audience also got to enjoy sets from Ahmed Bharoocha, Bri Pruett, Dulcé Sloan, and Nico Santos. Bharoocha’s set included a segment on religion that I really enjoyed; though not religious, Bharoocha told us that he wasn’t an atheist because he didn’t like the hope-dashing attitude of it. Comparing the afterlife to a net at the bottom of a foggy abyss we’re all doomed to fall into, Bharoocha observed that the problem doesn’t come from the idea of the net itself, but from people who say the net doesn’t catch gay people.
I was unfamiliar with Bri Pruett, but got the impression that she was well-known and loved in Portland, having only recently left our city for Los Angeles. Pruett discussed the discomfort of being a half-white and half-Korean American, an accidental witness to the racist conversations held all around her by those unaware of her ethnicity. Pruett came off especially sincere and included an emphasis on body positivity that set the tone for the whole show.
Dulcé Sloan’s set went into a specific slice of post-election irritation she’s felt as a POC, listening to her white friends express how scary things have become while she stands by and tries to explain that things were already plenty scary for black people in America. Her exit caught everyone off guard to comedic effect as she simply stated, “Bye,” before walking off stage.
As a fan of NBC’s Superstore, I was psyched to see Nico Santos, who plays Mateo on the show. Santos’ set supplied a healthy dose of relatable self-deprecating humor, going into his habit of eating his feelings: “self-loathing, regret and mmm, shame.” Santos ended on his fear of dying and having his mother look through his phone in the midst of grief. His impression of her looking through his contacts in confusion while saying, “He knows a lot of people from the Grindr family” had everyone laughing hard.
Bridgetown is over, but Minority Retort continues as a monthly Portland event showcasing comedy from people of color. Your next chance to check it out will be May 26 at the Hollywood Theater.