On Saturday, August 19, some of the Pacific Northwest's funniest people will take the stage at the Egyptian Theatre as part of The Stranger's Undisputable Geniuses of Comedy showcase. Emmett Montgomery! Dewa Dorje! Derek Sheen! Alyssa Yeoman! Natalie Holt! And those are just the Seattle folks performing! We're also bringing up Portland's Arlo Weierhauser, Kate Murphy, Steven Wilber, and Jamie Carbone, and the evening will be hosted by Nariko Ott, winner of Portland's Funniest Person contest in 2016 and writer for The Hard Times

It's going to be very funny! This week, ahead of the show, let's get to know the Seattle comics. Say hello to Natalie Holt! Holt co-produces the Comedy Nest at the Redenzvous every Tuesday night and has also written for McSweeney's.

How does it feel to be declared an Undisputable Genius of Comedy? 

Bad. I love to argue, I live for disputes. I used to claim I was a comedy genius and people would leap out of their seats to debate me and call me a gifted comedian at best. This conflict gave me purpose, it filled a gnawing emptiness inside of me, but now it's all gone. Being an Undisputable Genius of Comedy ruined my life.

The show is at the Egyptian, which is rumored to be haunted. Do you believe in ghosts?

I believe in ghosts, but I want so badly to see one that they refuse to haunt me. I'm too desperate. I could sleep in Civil War cemeteries and abandoned hospitals and get a full night's sleep. They won't so much as give me an eerie flicker of the lights or stomp across the ceiling or appear in a mirror when I chant their name. If you know a ghost, invite me over, I promise I'll play it cool (by getting very scared). 

I feel like Seattle’s comedy scene has gotten stronger in recent years. There are new(ish) venues—Comedy/Bar opened earlier this year on Capitol Hill and Here-After has been open for about a year and a half now, hosting both local and touring comics. Do you agree? 

Not really. We're only now getting back to where we were a few years ago in terms of venues, audiences, and number of shows. Independent comedy is rediscovering its place, as a lot of old favorites were shuttered by the ongoing pandemic. Most producers are still paying what they did pre-COVID. Meanwhile, they expect comics to shoulder the unpaid labor of promoting shows and creating an audience, and then make their money off the comic's backs with ticket sale cuts and venue fees while they pocket all the food and drink revenue. And that's not even getting into the known sexual predators still active in the scene.

So, is comedy stronger in the sense that many excellent comedians in our city work their ass off and keep getting better and deliver consistently great shows? That's indisputable (or undisputable, if you prefer). Has it strengthened into a scene that cares about the well-being of comedians, and values the fact that there'd be empty stages and no audience without their work? No.  

All that aside, who needs money? We'll all be on Nestlé WaterCoin in a few years. If you're a producer reading this, I'm not talking about you, I'm talking about that other person you hate. Book me, baby!

Some of the participants in the show are from Portland—our sister paper, The Mercury, also hosts its own Undisputable Geniuses of Comedy show. It’s Portland vs. Seattle! Rose City vs. Emerald City! Who has the funnier comedians? 

This is where I say, "You be the judge when you see at THE UNDISPUTABLE GENIUSES OF COMEDY on August 19th!" Seriously, though, while I love every Seattleite on the show, Portland comedians have one thing that we don't: an IMDb credit for a non-speaking role on Portlandia

Where is your favorite place to see comedy in Seattle right now?

Flock, second Thursdays at Olmstead. The Seattle Super Secret Standup Show, first Fridays at Atlas Theater. Any of Bandit Theater's improv shows. And, of course, Seattle's best open mic, the Comedy Nest, every Tuesday at the Jewelbox Theater at the Rendezvous.

The Stranger presents the 2023 Undisputable Geniuses of Comedy Sat Aug 19 at the Egyptian Theatre, 8 pm, $25, 18+. Tickets are available here.