On any given night at Bend Comedy, a wide demographic can be seen reflecting upon and laughing about almost any topic imaginable. At times, tickets for COCC students are free, allowing for fun on a budget.
Watching and hearing Ryan Traughber, COCC alumni and founder of Bend Comedy, it is evident that he has a passion for his work while both running the showcase and in front of the microphone. Traughber has been successful in making audiences both laugh, but also has had his fair share of flops. A story of bombing in front of a crowd of senior citizens one night in Eastern Oregon brought many laughs. In stand up, timing and context are everything.
Traughber hosts an open mic on most Tuesdays and a scheduled show on Thursdays at the Summit Saloon in Bend. Located downtown, Summit Saloon is a sandwich and booze spot by day and weeknights, and a busy dance club on Friday and Saturday nights. Thursday night shows generally bring in comedians from throughout the Pacific Northwest, with many local Bend and Portland comics.
Traughber is a comedian, he likes to laugh, but to make Bend Comedy happen, work needs to be done. Comedians need to be paid, fed and may need a place to lay their heads for a night. Venues need to be booked, advertising is sold and plugged. During the show Traughber is changing the sound levels with an ear towards audience laughter that can cause a comedian to get excitable, creating a stir of energy that is unique to the artform.
A typical night for Traughber will include him setting up chairs and tables, he even notices people standing and finds them seats. Before a comedian goes on, he rushes to the stage, sometimes with drink in tow, thanks the previous comedian, maybe riffing on a joke or thanking an advertiser with a little humor before introducing the next comedians set.
Traughber also acts as a soundman who keeps the two hour showcase running smooth and with coherency.
Hard working and a thoughtful student of comedy, his laugh can be heard throughout the shows. He will laugh at jokes that the attendees find funny, or a bomb of a joke that falls to deaf ears.
When performing and creating his material, Traughber has a firm grasp of his job, and his audience. Inviting them to interact with him. A hallmark of his set includes polling the audience for pornographic genres, and then coming up with a Hollywood film name for the genre on the spot. Laughs ensue, giving him a rightful spot on the local Bend celebrity chain, nearly on par with KTVZ weatherman Bob Shaw and the dancing Little Caesars Lady.
Jack Ewing | The Broadside