One of the prime movers we have to thank for Portland’s incendiary comedy scene is Shelley McLendon. She’s the mastermind behind Bad Reputation Productions, which has staged hilarious adaptations of movies like “Road House” and “The Lost Boys.” She’s a member of several of the city’s top sketch groups, including the Aces and the Liberators. She’s the proprietress of the Siren Theater, a new downtown venue dedicated to the comedy and the zanily theatrical.
And she’s our guest curator this week, taking us on a voyage through her world of comedy.
Sisters of Comedy: Shelley & Wendi McLendon-Covey - 0:00
It just so happens that Shelley isn’t the only one with the funny gene in the McLendon family. Her sister is Wendi McLendon-Covey, whom you might know from “Bridesmaids,” “The Goldbergs,” “Reno 911” — or any number of other movies and TV shows. We got the two in the studio to talk about the roots of their comedic talents, playing Twister with Christian co-eds, making out with Nicholas Cage and the time Shelley grew a tail (or why you should check in with your coccyx). You can hear the full interview, plus watch them perform together, here.
Shelley, along with Michael Fetters, make up our favorite local sketch duo, the Aces. They performed a scene for our pleasure about a 19th-century pioneer couple sitting for a 10-minute photo portrait. Life was rougher then. All we can say is, don’t eat the stew — and make sure to get Grandma out of the bear trap.
The Aces will perform a “best of” show in May called “Animal Kingdom.” We only hope Shelley reprises the centaur bridesmaid doing her best “Single Ladies” dance.
Siren Theater And The Portland Performance Crises - 18:35
When Shelley started her company, Bad Reputation Productions, she rented out venues like Theater! Theatre! Over time, she found spaces increasingly hard to come by, so she set out to start her own. It took her two years to find something that worked and that she could afford: the Siren. And it’s one of only a few new theaters to open in years.
Shelly’s far from the only one struggling to find affordable performance and rehearsal space in Portland’s booming real estate market. A spate of theater and dance companies have been pushed from their homes as their rents spike or their buildings get torn down.
Is it time for a new arts center? We take a look at why it’s so hard to find space and what can be done about it.
Leviathan: The Monster of All Improv Shows - 29:30
Producer Aaron Scott tests his skill — and his dignity — at Leviathan. It’s a show where a storyteller has to come up with stories on-the-fly based off of audience suggestions, and then a group of able improvisers riff off the stories to create new sketches. Aaron’s stories ranged from an exotic animal menagerie/B&B in Kansas, of all places, to a group of Sri Lankan monks with a secret.
The next Leviathan is Saturday, March 26, with guest storytellers B. Frayn Masters of Back Fence PDX and Lorin Hoskins, the voice of Sharky from Disney’s “Jake and the Neverland Pirates.”
Bubbles and Giggles: TOL in the Tub - 45:00
Think Out Loud, In The Tub. It was a visionary idea: interviews with local chefs … in hot tubs. The first chef was Miranda Bjornsen, owner of Nooks & Cranberries. Unfortunately, she was also the last, as this was one of the best April Fools’ spoofs ever, starring Shelley and Think Out Loud host Dave Miller.