Ian Karmel on Splitting Life Between LA and PDX

The once-local comedian is back in town from LA (and a new gig on the Late Late Show with James Corden) to record an album this Saturday at Mississippi Studios.

By Cervante Pope February 4, 2015

Two years ago, lauded funnyperson Ian Karmel left Portland's cozy comedy scene for the bright(er) lights of Los Angeles.

Karmel quickly landed a gig writing for the television show Chelsea Lately (since cancelled), but Portland habits haven't proven so easy to shake. When not working, Karmel spends his free time penning a regular Portland Mercury column "Everything as F**k" and hanging out with friend and fellow local comedian Ron Funches, who made the move to LA in 2012. Asked where in Lalaland he goes to chill, Karmel says "Portland."

Saturday's sold-out—and no doubt deeply enthusiastic—crowd at Mississippi Studios (gathered as Karmel records his first-ever comedy album) probably won't help the native Beavertonian feel better about his new SoCal home. 

Over recent tallboys at NE Portland's Alleyway (around the corner from Karmel's girlfriend's place), we chatted with Karmel about weekends in Portland, hating on LA, and his new gig as a writer for the Late Late Show with James Corden (premiering in March).

Here are some highlights:

On L.A.: I don't like LA at all. You can't really walk anywhere, which is just kind of a bummer. Every trip has to have a pre-stated purpose to it. It’s like “okay, well, I HAVE to go to the grocery store,” so you’ll get in your car and drive.

On the future: I just filmed a mini pilot thing for ABC with a script based on the column I write for the Portland Mercury. That would be the ideal situation: to get to do a TV show about Portland, loosely based on the column, and hopefully film it in Portland.

On Funches: Funches works on Undateable on NBC, films like maybe five or six months out of the year. Then the other six he can work on other projects, or tour, or just go hang out places. It’s so rare to get one of those jobs; that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to do it.

On his position at the new Late Late Show: It's like having a baby. It's great, but it's a baby that it's okay if it dies because I can still do stand up.

On becoming a TV show writer: There are people who dream of that for sure, but it's not like I would lay in bed after a really fun show and am all, "oh, that was amazing. Maybe one day I can go to work at 10 am and crank out a bunch of jokes about Bruce Jenner's face."

On comedic intelligence: In Portland, you're doing comedy for people that live in Portland. I don't know if they're smarter, but they're smart in the way that I'm smart.

On lack of comedic intelligence: You get to the point where you're like "well, here's five minutes on me being fat. That's what you want to hear, right?"

On Twitter: It's addictive because it's almost like hanging-out methadone. It's not like a real hit. It's just enough to keep you from feeling really lonely.

On Portland: I feel like it does suck that Belmont Bodega closed down or that Chopsticks is getting shut down. But the thing that made Chopsticks amazing and beautiful wasn't the grout work or the wood in the bar. It was the friends that you went there with, and the random friendships you made when you were hammered on AMFs singing a Mariah Carey song. Maybe we all get pushed a little further away from the river, but I like to think you can still have those moments in different places.

Ian Karmel Live Album Recording
Thursday, Feb 7 at 8 pm and 10:30 pm, Mississippi Studios  

Filed under
Show Comments