The weekend after Christmas always feels like the glum truck stop between two glittering holiday destinations. Comedian Mike Lawrence steps out onto the Lola’s Room stage after the local warm up act. The lumbering New York City-based comedian delves headlong into the myriad of differences between Portland and nearby Seattle (most of which he nails perfectly) drawing a hearty and knowing laugh. Our neighbors to the north, as he notes, appear to have gotten their degrees in law, while the underachievers down south in Portland slid by on the couch, earning theirs in philosophy.
Lawrence deals in honest extremes throughout his 45-minute set, from a vivid exploration of Sonic The Hedgehog’s tragic video game drowning to a painful piece on his previous career, fast food. Although outside the club feels like a drab Sunday night, the lucky few inside are offered perspective on the inner workings of one of the most vulnerable, nerdy joke slingers on the circuit.
I had a chance to talk a little with Mike Lawrence, who has appeared on NBC’s Late Night With Seth Meyers, Conan, and John Oliver’s New York Stand Up Show, after the performance about his career, geek culture and the struggle to keep everything straight.
You were in Portland, OR. What’s your impression of the city as a stop on the comedic road?
It’s the best. The absolute best. My wife got to be there with me the first time. The audiences are smart and attentive (doesn’t always happen), the food is amazing (love Pok Pok and Jake’s Crawfish especially). Plus Ground Kontrol is my happy place. I played a game of Street Fighter 3 and a guy beat me and then paid for my next game against him. Only in Portland. And what I love is that someone from Portland is reading this and thinking, “that’s what you like about this place? There’s so much more!” But they’d never be a jerk about telling me.
Peeking at your schedule, are you looking forward to Winnipeg in late March?
Absolutely. My favorite pro wrestler (Chris Jericho) and my favorite band (The Weakerthans) are from there. You don’t get to look like a slowly ballooning Wolverine without loving Canada.