Nathan Brannon
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Nathan Brannon

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I Black Out / Nathan Brannon INTERVIEW

Pop Culture

We previously spoke with Portland-based comedian Nathan Brannon during the Bridgetown Comedy Festival. Brannon is an ultra-talented comic who has opened for big-timers like Dave Chappelle and Dave Attell. He was crowned the winner of Helium Comedy Club’s “Portland’s Funniest Person Comedy Competition” in 2012 and seems to be on a trajectory and path of success similar to such (former) Portland stand-ups as Ron Funches and Ian Karmel. He’s a comic who puts in a hefty amount of work, honing his craft, while holding his Portland comedy brethren and family with high regard.

Satellite Superslice contributor/frustrated comedian/artist/general wit, Alex Combs, recently caught up with the budding comedian after the live recording of his, raucously funny and epic, hour-long set at Portland’s Funhouse Lounge, on June 11th. Brannon flawlessly performed an hour of material which he spent the last few years of his career fine-tuning. This set is to be produced into his first live comedy album titled, I Black Out. A successful Kickstarter campaign was launched to promote and finance the album as his pledged goal was recently met.

Keep an eye on this hilarious and humble dude. Brannon’s talent and tenacity cannot be denied.
- See more at: http://thesuperslice.com/2013/06/30/i-black-out-nathan-brannon-interview/#sthash.pAiJsKyL.dpuf - www.thesuperslice.com


I Black Out / Nathan Brannon INTERVIEW

Pop Culture

We previously spoke with Portland-based comedian Nathan Brannon during the Bridgetown Comedy Festival. Brannon is an ultra-talented comic who has opened for big-timers like Dave Chappelle and Dave Attell. He was crowned the winner of Helium Comedy Club’s “Portland’s Funniest Person Comedy Competition” in 2012 and seems to be on a trajectory and path of success similar to such (former) Portland stand-ups as Ron Funches and Ian Karmel. He’s a comic who puts in a hefty amount of work, honing his craft, while holding his Portland comedy brethren and family with high regard.

Satellite Superslice contributor/frustrated comedian/artist/general wit, Alex Combs, recently caught up with the budding comedian after the live recording of his, raucously funny and epic, hour-long set at Portland’s Funhouse Lounge, on June 11th. Brannon flawlessly performed an hour of material which he spent the last few years of his career fine-tuning. This set is to be produced into his first live comedy album titled, I Black Out. A successful Kickstarter campaign was launched to promote and finance the album as his pledged goal was recently met.

Keep an eye on this hilarious and humble dude. Brannon’s talent and tenacity cannot be denied.
- See more at: http://thesuperslice.com/2013/06/30/i-black-out-nathan-brannon-interview/#sthash.pAiJsKyL.dpuf - www.thesuperslice.com


Sorry, Ian Karmel, you've been replaced. Portland's new "Funniest Person"—at least according to the Helium Comedy Club's annual contest—is Nathan Brannon, a comic who describes himself, fairly accurately, as looking like a pregnant Tracy Chapman. Brannon's comedy seems to have leveled up recently—he killed it at comedy showcase Funny Over Everything last month, and last night's solid set included a great bit about trying to do yard work after mistaking muscle relaxants for allergy pills. Shane Torres ("Native American Meat Loaf impersonator") came in second—he's in line for a victory next year, by my math. He took third place last year, and he just keeps getting better. In third place, Gabe Dinger, which I have mixed feelings about 'cause his best joke was about a sack full of dead kittens. (Just kidding, he was great.) I was one of the judges of the contest's final round, and Christian Ricketts was in my personal top-three—he's one of my favorite comics in town right now, because he's super smart, super weird, and doesn't pander (which is probably why he also doesn't win contests). And last year's second-place winner, Tim Hammer, was easily the crowd favorite last night—his weird, deadpan oneliners went over like gangbusters.

It's worth noting that not a single woman made it into the finals of the contest—though at Saturday afternoon's Comedy for Breakfast show at Club 21, Stephanie Purtle's set was as a good as half of what I saw last night. She (along with Whitney Streed and Bri Pruett) didn't make it through Saturday's semi-finals; I also expected to see Jessie McCoy in the finals, but no dice. (I'm not sure there's anythign to be done about that, really—except make sure that there's a gender balance among the judges, which was the case on Sunday's finals, not that it mattered at that point.) Anyway: Congrats to Brennon, Torres, and Dinger, the three funniest dudes in town. - The Portland Mercury


Sorry, Ian Karmel, you've been replaced. Portland's new "Funniest Person"—at least according to the Helium Comedy Club's annual contest—is Nathan Brannon, a comic who describes himself, fairly accurately, as looking like a pregnant Tracy Chapman. Brannon's comedy seems to have leveled up recently—he killed it at comedy showcase Funny Over Everything last month, and last night's solid set included a great bit about trying to do yard work after mistaking muscle relaxants for allergy pills. Shane Torres ("Native American Meat Loaf impersonator") came in second—he's in line for a victory next year, by my math. He took third place last year, and he just keeps getting better. In third place, Gabe Dinger, which I have mixed feelings about 'cause his best joke was about a sack full of dead kittens. (Just kidding, he was great.) I was one of the judges of the contest's final round, and Christian Ricketts was in my personal top-three—he's one of my favorite comics in town right now, because he's super smart, super weird, and doesn't pander (which is probably why he also doesn't win contests). And last year's second-place winner, Tim Hammer, was easily the crowd favorite last night—his weird, deadpan oneliners went over like gangbusters.

It's worth noting that not a single woman made it into the finals of the contest—though at Saturday afternoon's Comedy for Breakfast show at Club 21, Stephanie Purtle's set was as a good as half of what I saw last night. She (along with Whitney Streed and Bri Pruett) didn't make it through Saturday's semi-finals; I also expected to see Jessie McCoy in the finals, but no dice. (I'm not sure there's anythign to be done about that, really—except make sure that there's a gender balance among the judges, which was the case on Sunday's finals, not that it mattered at that point.) Anyway: Congrats to Brennon, Torres, and Dinger, the three funniest dudes in town. - The Portland Mercury


NATHAN BRANNON INTERVIEW

TONY TRINH: What’s it like being 2012 Portland’s Funniest Person?

NATHAN BRANNON: Great question. Well, the sash I made myself is pretty cool. I no longer open doors at shows; I kick them open and scream, “BEHOLD!” I’ve also been able to see how many people around the country still don’t know where Portland is. Other than that, it’s not much different. Seriously though, I’m happy to be counted as a representative of the Portland scene, which is full of so much talent.

TRINH: That’s cool. You’re like a Comedy Ambassador of Portland now. Which leads me to my next question. Chicago, NYC and LA are comedy hubs. I see Portland as a peripheral scene, which is to say that it is legit, is on the map and growing. You say there’s a lot of people with the “funny gene” here. What do you think of the comic scene/culture in Portland? Can you elaborate?

BRANNON: You could say I’m biased, but I think Portland has one of the best comedy scenes in the country. Not to take anything away from any other scenes around the country, but I think the “magic” lies in how no one here is above hard work. Everyone from the vets to the newest comedians here; they’re all held accountable by the others. If you don’t take much pride in your craft and don’t try to get better every time you step on a stage here, eventually it’ll start to show. When you see everyone around you making strides in their performances, that’s enough motivation for (you to) keep working. You don’t want to be left behind, is what I’m trying to say.

When I started here in Portland, there were nowhere near the amount of comedians or comedy fans. Watching the older comedians, work night after night, for a couple drunks, I think, instilled this work ethic in a lot of us. I think it’s one of the reasons you see so many from Portland doing so well now, and making a national impact.

There’s a special spot in my heart for this scene (the majority of them were actually at my wedding). I don’t really take credit for the way the scene is today. I just know they make me a better comedian and would hope I do the same for everyone else here.

Hope that helps. Sorry I was so wordy.

TRINH: I love wordy! It takes a collective energy to up everyone’s game. It’s good to hear that you guys inspire each other. I get it. You just got married last year or within the past year-and-a-half, right? I recall you doing a bit about the cultural differences between you and your in-laws. Being married must have inspired a wealth of material. Are there any personal aspects about your home-life that wifey would get on you for waxing comically about, onstage? Or are there not any taboo topics?

BRANNON: Yeah, I’ve been married to my wife for about a year and a half. Yeah, my family inspires a lot of my material. I don’t think it would be possible to be a comedian, and NOT reference my family or my in-laws. They’re hilarious, I don’t even have to embellish much. My wife doesn’t really get on me for any of my material because she knows I love and respect her and the rest of my family too much to “throw them under the bus.” I don’t really make fun of anyone in my stuff, except the girl who used to bully me in kindergarten. There aren’t really any taboo topics, just cause I think they trust me. They trust that I won’t talk about it unless it’s a funny joke. I always try it out on them before I take it to strangers, but even if they don’t like it, I think they let it slide if it is honest. I think, if you’re honest about stuff, and it comes from a real place, it’s not taboo. Not to me, anyway.

TRINH: When you’re not on the road, how often are you doing your thing in Portland? Where are you honing your craft? Are you mainly at Helium?

BRANNON: I try every night that I’m in town. Some of my favorite places are definitely Helium, the Tonic Lounge on Wednesday nights (hosted by the awesome Whitney Streed), the Red Room sometimes, the Bagdad Theater, The Boiler Room always has a special place in my heart as well. I actually became a “Portland Comedian” there. I also like performing at the World Famous Cannabis Cafe. A lot of comedians say it’s real hard, but I like the challenge.

TRINH: Tell everyone when you’re performing at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival. By the way, who are you personally looking forward to seeing at the BCF when you’re not performing? What are your insider picks?

BRANNON: Friday, April 19, at 9pm, I’ll be at the White Owl Social Club. Saturday, April 20, at 11:59pm, I’ll be at the Mailchimp Stage at Mt. Tabor Theater. In terms of other comedians I wanna see, definitely Matt Braunger, Jesse Case, Dwayne Perkins, Dax Jordan, Richard Bain, and of course, every local comedian in the festival will be a lot of fun to watch.

TRINH: Thank you for chatting with me, Nathan. We look forward to catching your sets at BCF. We hope you keep being a Portland comedy staple for years to come. Keep holding it down and good luck with the shows!
- The Superslice Magazine


NATHAN BRANNON INTERVIEW

TONY TRINH: What’s it like being 2012 Portland’s Funniest Person?

NATHAN BRANNON: Great question. Well, the sash I made myself is pretty cool. I no longer open doors at shows; I kick them open and scream, “BEHOLD!” I’ve also been able to see how many people around the country still don’t know where Portland is. Other than that, it’s not much different. Seriously though, I’m happy to be counted as a representative of the Portland scene, which is full of so much talent.

TRINH: That’s cool. You’re like a Comedy Ambassador of Portland now. Which leads me to my next question. Chicago, NYC and LA are comedy hubs. I see Portland as a peripheral scene, which is to say that it is legit, is on the map and growing. You say there’s a lot of people with the “funny gene” here. What do you think of the comic scene/culture in Portland? Can you elaborate?

BRANNON: You could say I’m biased, but I think Portland has one of the best comedy scenes in the country. Not to take anything away from any other scenes around the country, but I think the “magic” lies in how no one here is above hard work. Everyone from the vets to the newest comedians here; they’re all held accountable by the others. If you don’t take much pride in your craft and don’t try to get better every time you step on a stage here, eventually it’ll start to show. When you see everyone around you making strides in their performances, that’s enough motivation for (you to) keep working. You don’t want to be left behind, is what I’m trying to say.

When I started here in Portland, there were nowhere near the amount of comedians or comedy fans. Watching the older comedians, work night after night, for a couple drunks, I think, instilled this work ethic in a lot of us. I think it’s one of the reasons you see so many from Portland doing so well now, and making a national impact.

There’s a special spot in my heart for this scene (the majority of them were actually at my wedding). I don’t really take credit for the way the scene is today. I just know they make me a better comedian and would hope I do the same for everyone else here.

Hope that helps. Sorry I was so wordy.

TRINH: I love wordy! It takes a collective energy to up everyone’s game. It’s good to hear that you guys inspire each other. I get it. You just got married last year or within the past year-and-a-half, right? I recall you doing a bit about the cultural differences between you and your in-laws. Being married must have inspired a wealth of material. Are there any personal aspects about your home-life that wifey would get on you for waxing comically about, onstage? Or are there not any taboo topics?

BRANNON: Yeah, I’ve been married to my wife for about a year and a half. Yeah, my family inspires a lot of my material. I don’t think it would be possible to be a comedian, and NOT reference my family or my in-laws. They’re hilarious, I don’t even have to embellish much. My wife doesn’t really get on me for any of my material because she knows I love and respect her and the rest of my family too much to “throw them under the bus.” I don’t really make fun of anyone in my stuff, except the girl who used to bully me in kindergarten. There aren’t really any taboo topics, just cause I think they trust me. They trust that I won’t talk about it unless it’s a funny joke. I always try it out on them before I take it to strangers, but even if they don’t like it, I think they let it slide if it is honest. I think, if you’re honest about stuff, and it comes from a real place, it’s not taboo. Not to me, anyway.

TRINH: When you’re not on the road, how often are you doing your thing in Portland? Where are you honing your craft? Are you mainly at Helium?

BRANNON: I try every night that I’m in town. Some of my favorite places are definitely Helium, the Tonic Lounge on Wednesday nights (hosted by the awesome Whitney Streed), the Red Room sometimes, the Bagdad Theater, The Boiler Room always has a special place in my heart as well. I actually became a “Portland Comedian” there. I also like performing at the World Famous Cannabis Cafe. A lot of comedians say it’s real hard, but I like the challenge.

TRINH: Tell everyone when you’re performing at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival. By the way, who are you personally looking forward to seeing at the BCF when you’re not performing? What are your insider picks?

BRANNON: Friday, April 19, at 9pm, I’ll be at the White Owl Social Club. Saturday, April 20, at 11:59pm, I’ll be at the Mailchimp Stage at Mt. Tabor Theater. In terms of other comedians I wanna see, definitely Matt Braunger, Jesse Case, Dwayne Perkins, Dax Jordan, Richard Bain, and of course, every local comedian in the festival will be a lot of fun to watch.

TRINH: Thank you for chatting with me, Nathan. We look forward to catching your sets at BCF. We hope you keep being a Portland comedy staple for years to come. Keep holding it down and good luck with the shows!
- The Superslice Magazine


Portland comedian Nathan Brannon was the winner in the most recent Helium Comedy Club's "Portland's Funniest Person" competition, so he seemed the most likely subject to talk with us about what to look for at this week's Bridgetown Comedy Festival (Apr 18–21).

Culturephile: Who are you particularly keen on seeing at Bridgetown? Who are some folks that we might not be that familiar with but are definitely worth checking out?
NB: Well, I have never seen Dana Gould live, so that one is definitely on the list. I'm also stoked about working with Dwayne Perkins, because he was one of the ones I wanted to see, as well. There are a lot of Portland comedians that have moved down to LA, but will be back up for the festival, such as Ron Funches, Dax Jordan, and Richard Bain. There are so many great comedians just from here in Portland in the festival. You could literally close your eyes, pick a show, and it will be phenomenal.

As one of the locals, do you look forward to visiting, paying homage, or otherwise hobnobbing with the "name" comedians? Would you ever ask another comedian for constructive criticism or is that taboo?
Oh yeah, that's one of the best parts of festivals; to see comedians that you would otherwise not get to see live. Definitely, I'm always open to criticism. I ask the ones I work with for insight all the time. It helps me get better. Sometimes, I'll have a joke pop into my head, and be really suspicious of it because it was so easy to come up with. I always wanna make sure I'm not stepping on someone else's jokes, so it's more helpful than anything to have the input of those who watch the most comedy—comedians.

How important is Bridgetown as an opportunity for networking? Is that how younger comedians get better gigs, by demonstrating their comedy chops to established pros?
It's great, because you have comedians from all over the country. Each comedian comes with a different set of connections, and the more you are connected, the better. I also think this festival fosters creativity. So, not only does it make the shows better for audiences, you can also showcase more what you are capable of.

Which comedians have been the biggest influence on you, personally?
I grew up listening to Sinbad, Martin Lawrence, and Dave Chappelle. I also have been a huge fan of Bill Burr, and Patrice O'Neal. As far as personal connections, there have been so many here that have helped me become the comedian I am today. Dwight Slade, Susan Rice, Andre' Paradise, Dax Jordan, and Rex Navarette; they all have helped me more than words can express.

Has the rise of Portlandia colored people's perceptions about comedy in Portland? Is it presumed by the outside world that we're all kind of dry, self-effacing, and ironic? Has the show been beneficial to local comedians?
Um, I don't think so. If anything, I think it's opened people up to hearing comedy form Portland, regardless of the style. I haven't (heard about) much in terms of expectations while I'm on the road. It feels more, sometimes, that other places are just getting to know Portland, and mainly just know there's some great things going on here. As far as local comedians, it's been great; especially for the ones that have been on it. It's always awesome to have a TV show in your backyard.

What do the out-of-town comedians like to do in Portland during their down time? Strip bars? Beer? Nature walks?
All of the above, plus the arcades here are amazing. There are definitely enough good food carts to keep them busy, as well.

Let's hear your best Portland joke.
Portland is so polite! I'm afraid that, soon, instead of school zone signs reading, "20 mph: During School Hours," they will read, "20 mph: During School Hours … unless you have somewhere to be, that's fine, just take it easy. You know what? Forget I said anything." - Portland Monthly Magazine


Portland comedian Nathan Brannon was the winner in the most recent Helium Comedy Club's "Portland's Funniest Person" competition, so he seemed the most likely subject to talk with us about what to look for at this week's Bridgetown Comedy Festival (Apr 18–21).

Culturephile: Who are you particularly keen on seeing at Bridgetown? Who are some folks that we might not be that familiar with but are definitely worth checking out?
NB: Well, I have never seen Dana Gould live, so that one is definitely on the list. I'm also stoked about working with Dwayne Perkins, because he was one of the ones I wanted to see, as well. There are a lot of Portland comedians that have moved down to LA, but will be back up for the festival, such as Ron Funches, Dax Jordan, and Richard Bain. There are so many great comedians just from here in Portland in the festival. You could literally close your eyes, pick a show, and it will be phenomenal.

As one of the locals, do you look forward to visiting, paying homage, or otherwise hobnobbing with the "name" comedians? Would you ever ask another comedian for constructive criticism or is that taboo?
Oh yeah, that's one of the best parts of festivals; to see comedians that you would otherwise not get to see live. Definitely, I'm always open to criticism. I ask the ones I work with for insight all the time. It helps me get better. Sometimes, I'll have a joke pop into my head, and be really suspicious of it because it was so easy to come up with. I always wanna make sure I'm not stepping on someone else's jokes, so it's more helpful than anything to have the input of those who watch the most comedy—comedians.

How important is Bridgetown as an opportunity for networking? Is that how younger comedians get better gigs, by demonstrating their comedy chops to established pros?
It's great, because you have comedians from all over the country. Each comedian comes with a different set of connections, and the more you are connected, the better. I also think this festival fosters creativity. So, not only does it make the shows better for audiences, you can also showcase more what you are capable of.

Which comedians have been the biggest influence on you, personally?
I grew up listening to Sinbad, Martin Lawrence, and Dave Chappelle. I also have been a huge fan of Bill Burr, and Patrice O'Neal. As far as personal connections, there have been so many here that have helped me become the comedian I am today. Dwight Slade, Susan Rice, Andre' Paradise, Dax Jordan, and Rex Navarette; they all have helped me more than words can express.

Has the rise of Portlandia colored people's perceptions about comedy in Portland? Is it presumed by the outside world that we're all kind of dry, self-effacing, and ironic? Has the show been beneficial to local comedians?
Um, I don't think so. If anything, I think it's opened people up to hearing comedy form Portland, regardless of the style. I haven't (heard about) much in terms of expectations while I'm on the road. It feels more, sometimes, that other places are just getting to know Portland, and mainly just know there's some great things going on here. As far as local comedians, it's been great; especially for the ones that have been on it. It's always awesome to have a TV show in your backyard.

What do the out-of-town comedians like to do in Portland during their down time? Strip bars? Beer? Nature walks?
All of the above, plus the arcades here are amazing. There are definitely enough good food carts to keep them busy, as well.

Let's hear your best Portland joke.
Portland is so polite! I'm afraid that, soon, instead of school zone signs reading, "20 mph: During School Hours," they will read, "20 mph: During School Hours … unless you have somewhere to be, that's fine, just take it easy. You know what? Forget I said anything." - Portland Monthly Magazine


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

Nathan was the winner of Helium Comedy Club’s “Portland’s Funniest Person Comedy Competition” in 2012, and winner of the Yakima Valley Comedy Competition in 2010. He was a Semi-finalist in the Seattle International Comedy Competitions, and has participated in the San Francisco competition as well. Nathan also participated in Comedy Festivals all over the country. He has opened for national headliners such as Dave Chappelle, Matt Braunger, Maria Bamford, Arj Barker, Shang, Larry Miller, and has photoshopped himself into photos with many more. Nathan was also seen in NBC’s new series, “Grimm”. Nathan also added this sentence because he needed a higher word count.