Sunday, July 31, 2011

Portland Progressive Comedy: Massive PSICKASS3 Line-up

The Mental State Department astonished Portland with the full line-up for the PSICKASS3 event this week. OR-1 Congressman David Wu announced his resignation immediately afterward, and scandal-plagued Portland Mayor Sam Adams used the 24/7 media coverage of the MSD event to announce he will not seek re-election. No word yet from the White House on the amazing guest list for the August 11th show, but the mainstream press has given PSICKASS3 so much attention that Obama is expected to sign a highly-controversial budget resolution while Washington is busy talking about Mental State Department.

Portland has long had a lack of a substantive venue for political or comedy. Most stand-up comedians shy from the topical for the universal. Most sketch groups focus on the absurd over the serious. Thanks to 24/7 news channels, and nightly hours of biting social commentary both comedic and deadpan, some have declared the art form dead. Others, like Mental State Department's heroes in San Francisco, Laughter Against The Machine, press on in hopes of a brighter future full of laughter. Inspired by LATM and other political-comedy powerhouses past and present, the Mental State Department was founded to provide laughter and solve problems, and the results have been spectacular.

PSICKASS is a race against the clock to provide solutions and laughs in short order. Audience members receive slips of paper upon which to write their problems. Some folks choose the absurd ("butt cancer") and others the political ("Reaganomics"). Both of those suggestions, by the way, were written by the same person. The comedians head backstage and craft solutions to each problem they can to fill five minutes of new, original material. While the audience waits for the solutions, the Mental State Department entertains with sketches, games and more. The 8/11/11 show will feature guest appearances by Christian Ricketts, Mandie Allietta, Taylor Gray, and Patrick Thomas Perkins, just to name a few.

After the comedians present their solutions, the audience votes on a winner, the best and funniest problem solver! What better way to celebrate our democracy than a nice big worthless election where all the candidates are clowns?

In the first PSICKASS, Whitney Streed was elected President of Problem Solving.

In PSICKASSII, Stacey Hallal was the definitive winner.

At PSICKASS3, anything could happen. Competing for the title are Kristine Levine, Nathan Brannon and Jessie McCoy.

Kristine Levine is a goddess. She carries on in the great tradition of mom-comics who shoot from the hip, a genre in many ways defined by the love and empathy we feel for that greatest of heroes, the nagging mother. She calls her children "houseplants," so her parenting advice should be taken with a grain of salt, but her style is 100% real, exceptionally unique, and full of hilarious and shocking anecdotes sure to have you in stitches.

Nathan Brannon is mind-bending. He turns a stool on stage into a woman. He yells at a cat that isn't there while he's pretending to wash his genitals. He screams at white people and the audience, spellbound, get uncomfortable, but not too uncomfortable because they're laughing, at Nathan and at themselves. He's the kind of performer who holds every second of your attention, who takes you on an emotional roller coaster and leaves you safely in your seat, breathless.

Jessie McCoy is a comedian. She's got jokes and she tells them and people laugh. Jessie is matter-of-fact, saying exactly what something is or is not, and you mostly agree, but you definitely laugh. She thinks of herself as "brassy." It doesn't matter if Jessie McCoy is making fun of people like you, because you know she's right. If some people tell it like it is, Jessie McCoy tells it like it should be. Jessie is also a co-host of Unibash radio, on

Also featured: the talents of Ira Novos. Ira Novos is a musician, called "Portland's most alt comic." Often spotted as the musical accompaniment to Suki's Legendary Open Mic Night, Ira is a real performer from a time when real performers did not exist. If Ira has always been as endearing, sweet and funny as he is now, then he has already had an amazing, nationally-spanning career. But this could very well be the brink of the Age of Novos, and the world is finally ready for his genius.

Mental State Department expects to sell out the theater for this event, which takes place on 8/11/11 at curious Comedy Theater, 5225 NE MLK Blvd. The doors open at 7:30pm and the show starts at 8:00. Purchasing your tickets early is highly recommended. Seats are $5 and available online here. You can also join our email list if you email mentalstatecomedy at gmail dot com and tell us you're interested in receiving last-minute deals on tickets and information about upcoming Mental State Department events.

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