I love this city so much (Portland). I was already planning on moving (to Los Angeles), it’s like getting into Harvard (getting into the renowned Just For Laughs comedy festival in Montreal)…is like getting drafted in the first round, to use a sports metaphor. There have been moments where I felt like I don’t want to move, but there’s not a whole lot more I can do in Portland, without ranging into that ‘it’s sad that I’m still here’ territory. These last four years I’ve been doing standup, if I’d been in L.A., I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am now, they didn’t watch the awkward, baby giraffe steps. via

Boom. Achievement unlocked — go to NEXT LEVEL.

Before advancing to the next stage, Ian Karmel had his farewell show at Funny Over Everything, a monthly comedy showcase hosted by the popular comedian at Portland’s Hollywood Theatre. The night was dense with laughs but was also bittersweet. A celebration attended by his family, friends and fans, but it was also a goodbye and send-off. At times, we felt as if  we were at a mashup of a wedding, funeral and roast.

Karmel was joined by a few of friends and colleagues on the stage. One of his best buddies Sean Jordan had the crowd laughing with Jordan’s own awkward tales of growing up. Misfires like doing the splits at football practice to impress the other kids, cracked us up. Christian Ricketts, young hipster-y John Lithgow, told the scary tales of encountering the ubiquitous and comically slimy Spyce Gentlemen’s Club street promoter. Superslice friend, Nathan Brannon, was one of our favorites of the night, as he split our sides with riffs on Panda Express and outhouses. He’s a pro and instantly put the show into overdrive. Jen Allen had us laughing with her awkward, weird charm as she anthropomorphized her vagina and belly.

Shane Torres, a future star in his own right, was another fave. He painted a Simpsons-esque picture of being bested in soccer by his grade school nemesis, Tanner, one of those typical popular kids. It was just yesterday we had caught him, by chance, at the most recent Bridgetown Comedy Festival. He had us giggling at the Tanker Bar, a place that is notoriously difficult to perform in; it’s a cramped dive bar filled with loud drunks. We thought at the time,”Who is this funny-ass dude who looks like Sam Kinison?” All of a sudden, he’s named 2013 Portland’s Funniest Person and a standout as a newcomer at Just For Laughs.

Zak Toscani, opened and displayed his wounds and told us stories of heartbreak in the funniest of ways. The sensitive Toscani read Karmel a poem by a famous author which we can’t recall at the moment. Barbara Holm brought the quirky girl charisma and was entertaining and adorable. Torres called her a spastic, bunny rabbit on Red Bull. Anthony Lopez, one of the best of the night, slayed us with stories of Portland scrounges drinking “shirt whiskey” and c-blocking his mom and her new boyfriend. Fuck Rupert!

Before the man-of-the-hour graced the stage, they played a hysterical video skit featuring Sean Jordan and Shane Torres playing HORSE. It revealed the REAL reason why Karmel was running outta town. Hopefully, they release that joint on YouTube at some point.

As expected, Ian Karmel was hilarious. He was relaxed and was in complete control of the crowd. For an hour, he reached back into to his extensive catalog of bits. At one point, remarking on his own arsenal, “Uh, I write too much.” That’s not a bad thing, Ian. The crown jewel of the night, which was saved for the exclamation point at the end of the show, was Ian Karmel’s nearly five-minute Shakespearean soliloquy professing his love for the famous, Minneapolis Juicy Lucy burger. It. Was. Epic.

As our Slice crew vacated the venue at evening’s end, we reflected, “There’s some goddamn great stand-up happening in Portlandia right now.”

As the dude matriculates to the University of Entertainment in Los Angeles, we look forward to all of the appropriate and precise adjustments Ian Karmel will make when he is on Conan or opening for Patton Oswalt at Largo. The “Drunk Plaid Pantry/Twin Peaks” bit will evolve into “7-Eleven®/Doctor Who”. Instead of “Food Carts and Big Ass Sandwiches” it will be “Food Trucks and bacon-wrapped hot dogs”. Portland as Fuck will morph into Koreatown as Fuck. We also look forward to Karmel goading Antonio Harvey via Talkin’ Ball Skype call-ins.

We’d wish him luck but the brutha doesn’t need it. He’s rigorous, works diligently at his art/craft, and is, simply, a funny mofo. Portland loses one of the greats but the comedy-world-at-large gets to see what he’s all about. Hopefully, Karmel doesn’t suddenly develop “face blindness” and forget all of his Portland peeps. We doubt that’ll happen as, aside from being a comedic outlier, he’s also an über-mensch.


(photos by Nathan Sanborn)




Ian Karmel’s Exit Interview (Comcast):

Best of Karmel One-Liners (Comcast):


02 Funny Over Everything - Ian Karmel in front of the Hollywood Theater.03 Funny Over Everything - Ian in the Hollywood Theater Lobby04 Funny Over Everything - Sean Jordan05 Funny Over Everything - Christian Ricketts06 Funny Over Everything - Nathan Brannon07  Funny Over Everything - Jen Allen08 Funny Over Everything - Shane Torres09 Funny Over Everything - Zak Toscani10 Funny Over Everything - Barbara Holm11 Funny Over Everything - Anthony Lopez12 Funny Over Everything - Karmel is about the funny14 Funny Over Everything - Karmel goes HAM15 Funny Over Everything - Karmel drops an epic Shakespearean soliloquy about the Juicy Lucy16 Funny Over Everything - The Hollywood Theater marquee