Bri Pruett and Courtenay Hameister: Funny in Oregon

A stand-up comedian and former Live Wire radio host talk women in comedy, Portland creatives, and artisanal cheese.

By Fiona McCann February 25, 2016

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Bri Pruett (left) and Courtenay Hameister

Bri Pruett: Here’s one thing that readers gotta know: comedy audiences are female. I heard recently that 80 percent of comedy show tickets are purchased by women. In Portland, female audiences are like, “Oh my God, this is something I can do! It’s cheap, it’s fun to do with my friends, and it’s not some dude on stage yelling a bunch of misogynistic slurs at me!” Because we have all these female-run shows. Also, it’s a little different being a woman comic. There are basically a lot of things I need to address that a man wouldn’t need to. 

Courtenay Hameister: If I say to you “a guy walks into a bar,” anything can happen in that joke. But if I say to you “a woman walks into a bar,” you’re going to expect that joke to be about her being a woman in some way. It’s going to be about a dumb blonde ...

BP: ... or her skirt blows up ...

CH: Then, if I finish that joke and it has nothing to do with her being a woman, you’re going to think, “OK, that was kind of funny, but what did it have to do with her being a woman?” 

BP: For me there are all these things I have to do on stage in order to create a complete narrative for the audience, because the gender default for a comedian’s jokes is male, so the audiences fills in all the blanks. 

CH: I interviewed [The Daily Show cocreator] Lizz Winstead on Live Wire, and at one point I was asking her why there weren’t many women writers on staff at the show. I said I thought it was because women aren’t necessarily socialized to be funny. And someone hissed in the audience! This sort of thing happened a lot [on Live Wire] any time you talked about race or gender. I think Portland audiences get upset almost prophylactically, like, just in case. They don’t want to go home later and regret not being offended by something. 

BP: I’m hoping that’ll change, with all the new people moving into Portland.

CH: Making it unlivable!

BP:  Here’s the thing: I agree that it is a really special place. You’d have to be stupid to visit here or see it on TV and not say, “I want me some of that! I want me some low rent, some bicycles everywhere, some artisanal cheese, and some Pok Pok, and good beer.”

CH: My fear is that the creative class is just not going to be able to afford the city anymore. Then the very reason people want to live here will go away. Like when you’re dating someone and you think they’re really cool because they do this one really awesome thing—like building furniture, or showering. But when they start dating you, they stop doing it, because they’re too busy dating you! And you’re thinking, “But that was the thing that I liked!” 

BP:  Well, I’m looking forward to seeing what the “creative class” does with Milwaukie.

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