Reason to Love Portland: Shelley McLendon

The sketch comic brains behind Road House: The Play, Rudolph: On Stage!, and the Aces loves Portland because, eventually, the rain stops, and we all come together.

By Aaron Scott May 27, 2014

As part of our May cover story, 100 Reasons to Love Portland, we've been asking some of our favorite Portland authors, performers, and thinkers to tell us why they love our city.

We generally try to avoid bandying the word ‘maven’ in these parts, but Shelley McLendon is a maven of comedy, particularly the sketch variety. She’s the brains behind Bad Reputation Productions, which has penned and produced the sellout live adaptations of iconic ’80s movies like Road House and Lost Boys, and the animatronic classic Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer.

She's also been a member of some of the best local sketch groups, including the Liberators, Sweat, and our favorite sketch duo, the Aces, whose recent show was one of the smartest, funniest performances I’ve seen on stage all year—or on SNL in the past five. I’d take her centaur-bridesmaid speech and equine “Single Ladies” dance over Bridesmaids any day (even though it starred her sister, Wendi).

But this isn’t about why we love McLendon, it’s about why she loves Portland. So without further ado:

McLendon performs with the Liberators
The Brody Theater
Friday, May 30 at 8 pm
I remember watching a film adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s short story All Summer in A Day when I was in elementary school. In the story, humans were living on Venus where it rained all day, every day, and where the sun only came out for one hour every 7 years. It was gray and wet and everyone lived at the bottom of what looked like a decommissioned dam. The story focused on a group of children who got to witness the sun for the first time, and boy did they freak out. With the first ray of sunlight, they began to run, roll around in the grass, examine giant cacti that grew to full size in less than 60 minutes, and pick flowers. They literally looked directly at the sun just to make sure they really saw it, which probably wasn’t smart, but that’s how stoked they were. They had never seen such a thing and wanted to enjoy every moment of it.*

When that first nice day of the year shows up in Portland—after December, January, and February when the rain stops and the sun comes out and you actually feel hot when you go outside—that is one of my favorite things about living in Portland. Every resident in Portland instantly feels closer to each other, because we all agree on the issue. Restaurants who don’t even offer outdoor seating frantically place tables and chairs on the sidewalk, adults decorate their bikes, barbecues get fired up, and everyone gets to see each other again. There is a sense that we have all made it through something together, and we made it out okay. And while the rain will most certainly return in a couple of hours, for a little while we all congratulate each other and are happy to be together.

* (The story was also about how these kids were being super crummy and locked one of their classmates in a closet and the only sunlight she saw was through a crack in the door. But what can you really expect from a dam’s worth of kids who have been inside for 7 years?)

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