Comedy, cannabis collide in Bend

Good Leaf dispensary hosts weekly show

By Brian McElhiney, The Bulletin

Jokes ’N’ Joints

When: 4:20 p.m. Fridays

Where: The Good Leaf Organic Collective, 20360 NE Empire Ave. Suite B-8, Bend

Cost: Free

Contact: bendcomedy.com or 541-382-9420

4/20 celebrations

What: Oregrown’s 4/20 barbecue

When: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday

Where: Oregrown, 1199 NW Wall St., Bend

Cost: Free

Contact: oregrown.com or 541-323-3822

What: Elektrapod plays Oregrown’s 4/20 celebration

When: 7 p.m. Thursday

Where: Crow’s Feet Commons, 875 NW Brooks St., Bend

Cost: Free

Contact: crowsfeetcommons.com or 541-728-0066

What: The Hot Club of Bend

When: 3 to 6 p.m. Thursday and Saturday

Where: Cannabend, 3312 N. U.S. Highway 97, Bend

Cost: Free

Contact: cannabend.com or 541-617-0420

What: Dr. Jolly’s 4/20 barbecue with live DJ

When: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday

Where: Dr. Jolly’s, 415 SE Third St., Bend

Cost: Free

Contact: jollybend.com or 541-508-2708

Local comedian Zeke Kamm looked out at the group of about 10 people seated in folding chairs in the small room. He grinned as he leaned into the microphone to deliver his first punchline of the evening.

“Anybody know where I can score some pot?”

There were a few groans at the obviousness of the joke, but a lot more laughs. After all, Kamm was performing in the lobby of local marijuana dispensary The Good Leaf Organic Collective, which began hosting weekly comedy shows in partnership with Bend Comedy in late March. The free mini-shows, dubbed Jokes ’N’ Joints, are held every Friday at 4:20 p.m. (a nod to the code term for marijuana consumption).

This particular show was the fourth at the dispensary and featured 10-minute sets from Kamm; Bend Comedy owner and founder Ryan Traughber; and former Bendite Tony G, now based in Philadelphia.

Every so often, customers would enter the store and do double takes as the comics and audience shouted at them to come on in.

“In bigger cities, this is what we’d refer to as a living room show,” Traughber said, sitting with Good Leaf owner Christina Fehrs in the back of the store a few days before the fourth Jokes ’N’ Joints show. “A living room show is, on some random night you have a bunch of friends over to your house for a party, one of them happens to be a comedian and you have enough couches and chairs in the living room to seat everybody. It’s all of your friends, it’s everybody that you know, they’re already in on most of the punchlines so they know what to expect, and you don’t have to do comedy. You just sort of get up there, talk and comedy just sort of happens. So no, we don’t know these people, but they’re stoners, so they’re already on board, they’re ready to go, they already want to be a part of it.”

Since the legalization of recreational marijuana in Oregon in 2015, dispensaries have become more visible in Bend, and many of the stores have looked for ways to get more involved in their communities — particularly in Bend’s thriving artistic and musical communities. Many stores have sponsored concerts and other events around town, including Bloom Well, which has partnered with local promoter Parallel 44 Presents in the past, and Dr. Jolly’s, one of the sponsors for this year’s 4 Peaks Music Festival in June.

Quite a few stores also host their own events for 4/20 on April 20 every year. DiamondTREE will have a barbecue with a DJ in the parking lot of its east-side location Thursday, though the store saves its biggest celebration for July 1, marking the anniversary of legalization. Cannabend will feature local band The Hot Club of Bend at its weekendlong barbecue Thursday and Saturday from 3 to 6 p.m. Dr. Jolly’s 4/20 barbecue will also feature a DJ.

Oregrown will also host a barbecue in its parking lot Thursday with help from Dump City Dumplings, and it has partnered with Parallel 44 Presents to bring Elektrapod to Crow’s Feet Commons later Thursday night. The store also sponsors athletes and has backed shows at the Domino Room and Tower Theatre in the past.

“I think we’re representing a lifestyle, and one that you can be a part of whether or not you partake in the use of cannabis,” store co-founder and general manager Christina Hadar said. “It’s a lifestyle that promotes equality, acceptance, being outside, being with your family, enjoying time with your friends, being active, and includes music and enjoying good food. We’re kind of destigmatizing cannabis, right — it’s not just somebody that sits at home, smokes weed and plays on their Nintendo. They’re out there doing stuff and enjoying life.”

For the most part, local dispensaries save the live entertainment for special events such as 4/20. Jokes ’N’ Joints is the most regular performance event at a pot shop in Bend.

Fehrs, originally from Los Angeles, opened The Good Leaf in April 2014 as a medical dispensary. At the time, most dispensaries weren’t focused on educating customers about how and why medical marijuana works, she said.

“We started with that mentality of, we really want to help people,” she said. “… And the response was overwhelming. We had a lot of people you would never think (would) walk into a dispensary, and we still see it every single day. Now it’s become more common, but you have these grandmothers who maybe smoked a doobie back in the day at a party, but have never used it, was always against it. But they’ve (been) hearing these stories and stuff, going, ‘Well, I have really bad arthritis, I can’t sleep, I’m sick of prescription pills.’ They go to the doctor’s, they throw the prescriptions at them, and they’re not doing anything. So they come in looking for that alternative, and we basically are able to find it.”

The Good Leaf now sells recreational marijuana, too, but has worked to maintain its mom-and-pop identity. The comedy shows are part of that.

Traughber got the idea to partner with a dispensary sponsor after bringing a pot-related comedy show called The Gateway Show (in which comics do a set, then smoke pot and attempt to perform again) to Seven Nightclub last June.

The Jokes ’N’ Joints show is set up as a preview of Bend Comedy’s weekly Friday night show at Seven Nightclub, featuring the same performers doing mini-sets. Traughber will also sell half-price tickets for Bend Comedy shows at The Good Leaf shows.

“It’s a perfect combination — am I describing (Fehrs’) clientele or mine?” Traughber said. “(They) love to laugh, they have a disposable income and they enjoy spending it on their own entertainment.”

The Good Leaf won’t be alone in hosting regular live entertainment for much longer. Bloom Well owner Jeremy Kwit said the dispensary will open its Cannabis Interpretive Center & Gift Gallery at 1800 NE Division St., next door to the main store, sometime in May. The store will offer nonmarijuana products such as souvenirs, clothing and greeting cards, and will give customers a space to ask questions about the history of cannabis.

Kwit said he also hopes to host events and live music in the space, including full bands, DJs and singer-songwriters. Bloom Well has hosted smaller events in its lobby before, but the new annex will allow the store to do these things more regularly.

“We have had some intimate gatherings where we’ve had some musical performance, but it’s a tiny space, so imagine trying to have a musical performance in a speakeasy environment,” Kwit said. “It’s been very limited in scope, but we’ve had a number, or do have a number of our staff members who are musicians or music-makers, and so we honor that cannabis and music have a lot in common with one another. People connect with cannabis and they connect with music and sound at a very deep and visceral level, and so it’s a natural for us to marry the two.”

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