Capitol City Theater draws on deep local talent pools to provide a dynamic display of on-the-spot comedy for the smile-deprived masses. Each show lasts 90 minutes and features a family-friendly revue of improvised performance games. Acts draw on the suggestions of audience members, provided they promise not to suggest Millard Fillmore or seahorse mating rituals, the only two subjects scientifically proven to have no inherent comedic value. Though Capitol City comedy shows are always all-ages, beverages and alcohol-enhancing snacks are available. Today’s Groupon is also good for two adult drinks (up to $8 value); choose from beer, wine, soda, or surprisingly mature bottled water. There is one intermission during the hour-and-a-half show, so you’ll still be able to check stock quotes for your plucky cryogenics start-up.
At Northern Lights Theatre Pub, audience members sip riesling and sink forks into chicken breasts as movie families sit down to dinner on the silver screen. Cinema-goers order their meals before sitting down to watch second-run flicks, letting waiters ferry their pulled-pork burritos or Angus burgers right to their seats so they don’t miss a screen couple’s passionate first kiss, tender final embrace, or heartwarming jump from an exploding helicopter. In addition to finger foods, the chefs take their fare up a notch by layering personal pizzas with housemade sauce, sprinkling parmesan cheese and squeezing lemon juice over chicken breasts, and piling pineapple atop their banana splits. Before evening films light up the theaters, Northern Lights’ full-service bar kicks into gear, leading to age restrictions so that moviegoers can freely sip on-tap beers such as Blue Moon and Gilgamesh Mamba or wash down bites with chardonnay and shiraz. In addition to screening blockbuster movies, the theater pub’s three auditoriums occasionally show sports or host live shows such as standup comedy.
Listed in the National Registry of Historic Places, the McDonald Theatre has enjoyed a long, strange history since its establishment in 1925. Originally a community playhouse equipped with both a stage and a screen, the theater found new life in the 1950s when One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest author and psychedelic pioneer Ken Kesey began presenting free cartoons there every Saturday morning. The McDonald spent the next six or so decades as a movie house exclusively, but in 2001, the Kesey family returned, producing concerts and community events under the theater’s enormous proscenium arch. Kesey Enterprises finally purchased the time-weighted stage in 2009, and today the building hosts events ranging from high-school proms to reggae concerts to plumbing-fixture lifting contests.
The chain of Helium Comedy Clubs releases giggle gas from famed headliners and tomorrow's brightest stars at its Philadelphia, Portland, and Buffalo locations. In front of a tabled showroom that allows audiences a clear sightline and maximizes guffaw acoustics, a bustling calendar of familiar comic talent fills most of the week with levity, and open mic nights and standup workshops put aspiring jokesmiths higher up the comedy rung. Although the club holds guests to a two-item minimum, the menu inspires curiosity regarding maximum orders, with tempting savories such as shrimp cocktail, pulled-pork sliders, avocado and chicken paninis, and spicy potato bites with ranch dressing.
Eschewing the over-the-top costumes and writing that typify many other murder-mystery dinners, The Dinner Detectives’ cast of improvisational actors blends in with audiences, holding secrets tight to their chests while steering each night’s tension-filled storyline. After a diner is found murdered, a resident detective helps lead the investigation, allowing guests to interrogate one another with Tickle Monster tactics to distinguish the culprit among the crowd of fellow diners and dissembling thespians. Multicourse meals keep bodies well fueled during spurts of crime-solving intuition, and a prize basket awaits the gumshoe who comes closest to solving the case.
Curious Comedy Theater doesn't just host some of the best improv comedy in Portland?it also trains the next generation of off-the-cuff comedians. Every weekend, the stage hosts recurring and one-off improv, sketch comedy, and standup acts, all while audiences enjoy tastes from a menu packed with local ingredients. During the week, some of those same witty talents can be found in the classroom, leading such sessions as Improv Fundamentals, Scene Work Skill Building, Introduction to Stand Up Comedy, and Laughing Without Snorting.