Who: Jake Silberman, named Portland’s Funniest Person in 2018 by Willamette Week, is an up and coming comedian performing with fellow Portland comic Max Fortune on Jan. 10 at Seven Nightclub in Bend. Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door. Contact: bendcomedy.com.
Q: So you were in South America when you decided you wanted to try comedy?
A: Yeah, was kind of checking out different comedians’ Youtube clips and was like, “Yeah, I’ll just try it when I get home.” It was just one of those bucket list things.
Q: And how did your first time go?
A: Not well. It went pretty horrible. I think I’d only seen an open mic one time, and it was much smaller than the one I tried it at. I did it at a comedy club in Minneapolis, so there was, like, 120 people or something. I hadn’t really done anything like that before, so I ate it pretty hard.
Q: Was the problem that first time hecklers, or silence? Both?
A: It was just me. The jokes that I did weren’t very funny. It was everything that when you see bad comedy, this is what it looks like.
Q: A lot of people would be discouraged at that point. What made you decide to keep trying?
A: Even though it went really bad, I don’t know, it was just something inside of me. I don’t know, I just got hooked, I feel like. I was like, “I want to try that again.” It becomes a thing you do. I just kept doing it and then, almost seven years later, this is where I’m at.
Q: Did you move to Portland for its comedy scene?
A: Not really, no. Minneapolis is where I’m from. After coming back from South America, I was staying at my folks’ house, but I knew I wasn’t going to live there. So I started comedy there, and did it for about two months. I had a good friend out here … who was always talking about Portland. I was like, “I don’t really have anything else going on … I was doing Minneapolis. it had a good scene … I just started going to open mics. It became the thing I just did. It was kind of my life.
Q: Would you say you have a reputation … for taking any gigs that come your way?
A: Yeah. I have to be on stage every night. I don’t like going more than a day or two, so for me, it’s like, whatever’s out there, I’ll take. I know some comics have a different philosophy where they are maybe a little more selective. You get to be more selective as you go on. There are certain things that might not be worth it, but for me, as long as there are people, I’m generally down.
Q: Who are some of the comics who inspire you?
A: Bill Burr was kind of the first I would say modern comic that I really liked when I was watching his stuff. I used to watch some Carlin when I was a kid, and the original Kings of Comedy … with Bernie Mac and Cedric the Entertainer. I watched that as a kid a lot. I liked the first couple of Chris Rock (specials) when I was younger, and Chapelle obviously. I think Bill Burr was the one I looked at when I was like, “Maybe I’ll do this.” I was watching his stuff, and I really like his stuff.
Q: Me too. I just watched a funny clip of him talking about the worst he ever bombed. It was at a college during lunch in the Midwest.
A: Oh yeah. I’ve seen that one. I love bombing stories.
Q: Do you have a good one?
A: Yeah, let’s see. I’ve bombed where my material hasn’t worked. I think in my second or third year of doing comedy, I got booked on this show around Thanskgiving, and it was an all-black lineup, and … the audience was mostly black. I had a lot of anti-religious stuff in my act early on, and so I did a few jokes that worked, and then I said something bad about Jesus, and, like, this whole room … the air just got sucked out of it. It was a Saturday night show, so I was just like, “Oh, you guys are partying Saturday night, but you’re all going to church tomorrow.” This one lady was like, “Mmm hmm.” You have to know your audience. You can’t just say whatever you want because people are going to have opinions. That was tough because I was so out of my element in so many ways. My girlfriend at the time was in the audience, and I looked down and she wouldn’t even make eye contact with me, she was so embarrassed by me.