Drunk on truth to stupid baby power.

Go See Wilfred Padua at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival!

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May 8 through 11 Portland, where I live now, for better or for worse, will host the Bridgetown Comedy Festival. Bridgetown is a very cool festival that brings comics from all over to Portland and tries to make the whole city take itself less seriously. Or at least laugh. I’ve had the honor of getting to interview a couple of the performers right here, for The Tusk, and for the next few days I’ll be sharing those interviews with you. Lucky you and lucky me, all the people I spoke with over email were incredibly friendly and thoughtful. Spoiler: these comedians are kind of great people.

First up. Meet Wilfred Padua. He’s a teacher in Seattle and here’s the rest of what you need to know:

He was nice enough to answer some questions:

Lizzy: Your comedy feels pretty sincere; you talk about your students and coworkers and say stuff like “I shit myself twice in 2010.” Are you ever scared about what your mom’s going to think or that you’re going to get fired? And also, do you think irony is dead?

Wilfred: I’m not really afraid of losing my job or anything because I don’t think the things I talk about on stage are particularly controversial or offensive. They do reveal quite a bit about my personal life, and that does make me a little uncomfortable when I think about my parents’ seeing me perform. They recently saw me for the first time, and they had to hear me talk about my sex life, and my insecurities with being Asian, and, like you said, shitting myself multiple times. My parents’ don’t know much about my personal life, and it isn’t common place for us to talk about those things. But it isn’t the actual content that makes me uncomfortable. It’s more about how there’s so much more to me that my parents’ don’t know, and the revelation that we don’t know each other makes me feel uneasy. But the issue there isn’t in the stand-up, it’s in the relationship that I have with my parents.

And I don’t think irony is dead. There is definitely still room for it in comedy, and there are definitely great comedians that utilize it well. I don’t think audiences prefer sincerity. It’s more that comedians, now, want to be more sincere. Maybe it’s just more rewarding for comedians to be that way.

L: What would you say are the major forces that have helped shape your comedic voice?

W: The main thing that has shaped my comedic voice is just doing stand-up. Stand-up’s a guess and check process. You throw something at an audience, and if it’s not right, they tell you. If it is right, they tell you. So, failing and learning what does and doesn’t work helps. But in the beginning, I think what set me in a direction towards finding my voice is writing in the style of my favorite comedians. I didn’t know who I was when I started doing stand-up, so what I used to do is keep my favorite comedians’ voices in my head and write that way. I don’t know if that’s the best way to help you find yourself, but it does set you on a path because at least you’re trying to write like the people that speak to you.

L: Do you think there should be a bigger rivalry between Portland and Seattle?

W: I don’t know if there should be a bigger rivalry. Maybe, if it’s going to bring more attention to our scenes. Both Portland and Seattle have so many great comedians that go unnoticed. So if me saying “Portland sucks” will bring us more attention and help us fill seats or bring industry people to our cities, then sure, let’s do it. Portland sucks.

L: Who is the funniest person you’ve ever met/seen/know of?

W: The funniest person I know is my friend Chris Kissel. He’s a good friend from college who helps make radio stations in New York. He is just real smart and has this effortless way of being funny. I’ve never seen him actually try to make people laugh. He’s just naturally hilarious.

L: I know a lot of people that want to be famous for their art. I can’t decide if it is because they feel compelled to create, want to be rich, need their existence validated or because they just want to get laid, or something else I am missing. You’re an artist. What do you think? Do you want to be famous? If yes, why?

W: Would I want to be famous? Yes, of course. But I’m not actively trying to be famous. And I guess everyone has their own reason to do it, and maybe usually it’s a combination of all of those things. I think you have to work really hard and be really good to get famous off of stand-up, or to even just be working as a comedian. And I think that if fame came from this, it would be some actual proof that I’m good at what I do.

L: Macklemore: honestly, what do you think of him?

W: I like Macklemore as a person. I don’t like the conversations about him having to realize his privilege or whatever. I think, when we talk about privilege, the conversations are always about so and so having to realize that they’re privileged, but they’re never about what things they are doing with their privilege. What is he doing with his money? How is he using his power? Macklemore had the opportunity to talk about important shit, and he did it. I mean, in the end, it’s all pop music, but he sparked a lot of conversation which is always good. And I feel like he’s trying his best to be a good person and do something positive with his platform, and I don’t get why that isn’t enough for people. When people complain about Macklemore, and about how white dudes can’t do this or that because of privilege, they’re shutting down potential conversation. And that, to me, is way worst then a white guy writing a song about gays. Musically, though, I’m not a fan.

L: Do you plan on staying in Seattle or are you hoping to go to a more scene-y place like LA or New York? Why?

W: And I do plan on staying in Seattle for a few more years. I’m in no rush to become a working comedian or to get famous. I have a lot to learn about stand-up, and I just want to get real good before I fly off to somewhere else. And Seattle is a good place to get good. We have a pretty good audience, and I have a lot of friends that are really fantastic comedians and they continue to push me to get better, and they teach me a lot. So, for right now, I’m getting what I need in Seattle.

You can see Wilfred Padua on every single day of the festival. If you see him, make sure you yell “Seattle sucks!” as loud as you possibly can.

2 Responses to “Go See Wilfred Padua at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival!”

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