We’ve previously spoken with three of Seattle’s Bridgetown Comedy FestivalÂ first-timers to get their perspective. Now as we rapidly approach The Bridgetown Comedy Festival (beginning next Thursday, April 18th), we offer this chat with Emmett Montgomery.
In the last six years he has explored retro pinball, gotten engaged, and performed at every Bridgetown. When he is not making puppets, moderating his horror aficionado forum, advising Bumbershoot on Northwest comedy, planning the next Weird and Awesome (his monthly variety show) or Beard Practice (his weekly open-mic), or guarding artwork from villains, he finds time to field questions from the likes of yours truly.
Tom Mohrman: Would you say Bridgetown is more, or less regional at this point.
Emmett Montgomery: From the beginning it was people from all over the country. (Essentially, from what I understand it was people on A Special Thing.) There was one guy from Minnesota, but it was a lot of LA, and some New York. I mean It’s still pretty one-sided coast-wise, but there are some great New York comics coming out.
The way it is, New York and LA people kind of skip and hop, but there’s a lot of ties to the Northwest. I think that Bridgetown is a Portland festival, but it’s pretty much also a Seattle festival. Andy [Wood] lived here, and the first couple of years it was a lot of Seattle comics that were helping run the stages.
TM: What has Bridgetown meant for you in terms doing other festivals?
EM: I’m going to be doing a festival in Humboldt County based on my performance of last year. The Savage Henry Festival. That’ll be fun, to see how that works out. For me, the connections and friendships that I’ve made have been really wonderful.Â I’veÂ met some great comics.
TM: How did the the first year of the San Francisco Comedy and Burrito Festival last October compare to Bridgetown?
EM: I think the Comedy and Burrito Festival was inspired by Bridgetown. Ameen Belbahri [festival organizer] is a guy who is a huge comedy fan, and he does a lot of support for the San Francisco community. He’s a great guy. He really enjoyed the festival, and he wanted to bring something like that.
It’s a wonderful formula, if you look at it: take a dynamic neighborhood, get the neighborhood invested in it, and have a walkable circuit. The Burrito festival was a big square, in the Mission, which was super cool. Like the Hawthorne District on Mescaline. That reminded me a lot of the first year. There were some wonderful and super talented comics, but unless you were a comedy nerd thereÂ weren’tÂ any super big names. It was really fun, and lots of friendship. There’s a lot of friendship that happens at these festivals, which is what I like.
TM: What speaks to you as a comedy fan at Bridgetown?
EM: For me,Â I’veÂ always been able to see comics whoÂ I’veÂ never seen before, and those kind of moments of sweet discovery–and great writers…you can see some wonderful stuff. The tanker is really great.
I’ve made some great friendships that have continued into other festivals and other experiences. Years ago I threatened to cut off a guy’s head, and eat his brain because he was such a talented comic. I wanted his power. (He was on mushrooms at the time, and it became a really weird plot point of his life.)Â We’reÂ really close friends. I stayed at his house during the Burrito Festival, and he’s stayed with me. We send each other threatening messages, and it’s really wonderful.
TM: No decapitations yet?
EM:Â You’veÂ got to get the right moment.
TM: Do you have any favorite Bridgetown moments?
EM: Well that’s where I proposed to my wife four years ago. So there’s that. Kate is actually working as the talent Liaison this year. (She’s kind of been a part of the festival every year.) We’re going a day early to celebrate the city and celebrate our moment. We’ll both be working.
TM: Is your engagement anniversary usually on your mind a lot during Bridgetown?
EM: It’s there, you know? But Kate is such a bigger comedy fan than me. A lot of times its a kiss on the forehead andÂ she’llÂ disappear into the crowd.
TM: Tell me about the after parties. What are they like?
EM: You know what? It’s pretty awesome to see a bunch of people dance. Just dance with each other. Just let go–a bunch of nerdy comedians–just dance, and have fun. After slogging through a ten hour day of comedy, to at three in the morning, just give it up– it’s fucking wonderful.
And then sometimes there’s some really fun stuff, depending. There’s some really neat sponsors. There’s a really nice retro arcade down there, Ground Control. We get a free play for an hour or two hours, and that’s been really fun too. A lot of friendship over pinball. They had one of those Dyson Airblades. Have you seen one of those? Holy crap! That’s the most amazing thing in the world. It’s a Star Trek thing. I was at a place that had a knock-off one last week and I got kind of angry about it. I want a body sized one. How great would that be? We should have them.
TM: What else are you looking forward to?
EM: There’s the Portland experience itself. You know, Powell’s Books is right there. You can always go to Kenny and Zuke’s Deli. There’s some really great breakfasting that happens. General exploring.
Emmett Montgomery will be performing on Thursday at the Bog Late show, on Friday at the Hawthorne Late Night, and Sunday at Eagles Primetime. Catch him there, or at the Tanker, or somewhere on Hawthorne likely making friends and threatening decapitations.