#NerdNightOut 4: Joy and the family of geeks

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Marian Call has got this nerd music thing down. Several albums, a few years of constant touring, and lots of Twittering… she has made this world her own, and her fans love her for it. So we knew we had to put together something very special for her Portland tour stop. This #NerdNightOut turned out to be a great experience — a nice, quiet, personal theater, and Marian dealt gracefully with the train noise (ugh!) and the really warm day in the really not-air-conditioned theater.

Fortunately, LA Screenwriter Josh A. Cagan was also looking for a chance to perform. Josh may not be a traditional “nerd” or “performer,”—at least, these aren’t the things he spends most of his time doing— but we were thrilled to have him, and he absolutely killed it. Of course, we could show you the picture of him performing:

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But it will give you a much, much better feeling for his performance if you see what the audience was doing during his set. His writings & delivery were full of true sadness, happiness, hilarity, and so much honesty, and he killed.

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The lovely Action-Adventure theater hosted this show. And despite the train and the heat, it was a great place. Much too small, of course (we did two nights and both were completely packed), so we will probably be going back to a bigger theater for our next big show. The haiku contest was a big hit, thanks to our guest judges and prizes from Guardian Games, and our MC Alex Falcone did a great job of pulling the whole thing together. This was a very different sort of show than you might normally encounter, but it was personal and lovely (and strangely muppet-themed). Perhaps we will need to trade off between the “big shows” and these smaller incubators in the future. Although… maybe we will lean more toward the “creativity” meaning of incubator, and less toward the “oppressive heat.”

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Most of these photos were taken by Michael Bain. Find more photos of this event on his Flickr page.

#NerdNightOut 3: The Ladies

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We have been hearing a lot about Barbara Holm. She has a column in the Portland Mercury about feminism, she has glasses, and she’s friends with Joss Whedon… these are all great things. The more important part, of course: she is very, very funny. Barbara was recommended to us as a #NerdNightOut performer, and so we were thrilled to add her to the lineup for our July show, which also served as the Portland stop on the very talented Sarah Donner’s national tour, and the CD release show for the Doubleclicks’ latest album. Add one dash MC Bri Pruett, and we had one heck of a show!

Our search for ever larger friendly Portland venues continued this month, and we found a wonderful home in the Secret Society, a wonderful ballroom/club in North Portland that had enough space to hold nearly 200 nerds (our biggest audience yet). This was particularly important because our marketing got a big boost from the Portland Mercury and from a software conference happening in town. Awesome. Next time we will definitely get more mercurychairs, but it turned out great. The venue told us it was the most people they’d seen for one show there in months, but they still managed the bar, sound, food, and crowd control extremely smoothly. We will be back, Secret Society!

It was not until just before the show started that I consciously realized I had booked a geek-themed show with all female performers. What a wonderful world this is!

Thank you to Chris Wright for sharing these photos with us! Find more on his Flickr set.  

#NerdNightOut 2: Joseph Scrimshaw and collaboration

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Joseph Scrimshaw is one of the funniest people I have ever met. What makes it worse is that he’s not only funny, he’s also extremely hard-working and prolific, meaning that though we have now performed with him about 6 or 7 times, he has always done something new at the show. Something new and hilarious. What a jerk.

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After touring with Joseph briefly at the end of 2012 and sharing the bill with him on the Jonathan Coulton Cruise, we knew that he was another wonderful candidate for giving the #NerdNightOut ticket to Portland. We put on this show at the Funhouse Lounge, a fun little club in Southeast that is great and comfortable… and sold out so quickly we had to add another night. We hired John Harper to make us a truly wonderful poster — hiring local and talented independent artists is one of our favorite things to do, so why not?

Something we learned from the first #NerdNightOut event is that we really need to have a MC to warm up the crowd and move it forward. Fortunately, the Doubleclicks were lucky enough to be invited onto Alex Falcone’s late night stage show a few months previous, where we met the very talented funny Alex Falcone and Bri Pruett, local comedians who were happy to each host a night of the show. Very different but very talented, they really gave the show the final touch it needed to be a smooth-sailing ship.

Joseph Scrimshaw did another wonderful thing for #NerdNightOut… he encouraged some collaboration between the acts. So he sat in with the Doubleclicks for a very troubling cover of the Sesame Street song “Rubber Ducky,” and he wrote a very special piece for me to perform, based on the Angry Sorority girl meme and the character of Hermione from the Harry Potter books.

photo by Chris Wright. More photos of this event can be found on his Flickr Page.

#NerdNightOut1: an origin story

The idea for #NerdNightOut started when we were backstage at the Meltdown Comedy show in LA. The room was full of young, hilarious comics that were doing awesome, awesome things — and particularly, Erik Charles Nielsen (aka Garrett from Community) did a fantastic set–you can watch his set now as he did it on Conan! We found ourselves wishing that more awesome performers like Erik, who appeal to a geeky crowd but don’t yet have the draw to do national tours, could come up to Portland. Our city isn’t one of the top tier towns for comedy, and we don’t get a ton of talent up here (although Bridgetown Comedy Festival and Helium are changing that)… especially not of the delightful niche variety.

nerdnightout1 poster And so we decided to do something. What would it take to bring Erik up to Portland? It’s not that awfully much money, if we get a little help, and it could be a show that the occasionally forgotten geeks of PDX really appreciate. So we did it! Thanks to generous sponsorships from Sock Dreams & the Jupiter Hotel we were able to bring up Erik and hire local comedian Tim Hammer (multiple-time high-ranker in the “Portland’s funniest person” contest) and our friend, Seattle ukulady Molly Lewis.

The show sold out weeks in advance (no thanks, probably, to our very dorky preview video).

Sock dreams donated gift cards, so we had a coloring contest judged by local artist (and our poster designer) Erika Moen, which turned out really, really fun. And the beautiful Curious Comedy Theater were generous hosts! All in all, the first #NerdNightOut was a huge success.