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 Derek Sheen!

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

I think “genius” may be a bit of an overstatement, considering I've been the victim of several email scams lately. But I'm honored to be included among so many comedic geniuses. Also, I thought it was a little weird that they all asked for my Social Security number (543-21-3456) and Mastercard CCV number (772), but it was so worth it just to be part of the group!

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

I can relate to dying in a theater, I've bombed in several of them. Actually, one time I saw The Room at the Egyptian and wanted to discorporate from my body, so it seems pretty believable. My mom swore she had one living in her condo and that it was friendly. One time she couldn't afford to pay an overdue light bill and claimed that she opened the freezer, and $300 in twenties fell out. 

Unfortunately, I have only been haunted by poor life choices, like the one time I ate at Chevy's Fresh Mex at a mall in Phoenix and ended up going blind for two days.

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

Seattle went through a little bit of a comedy drought, post-COVD, and it feels like it took us longer to recover than other cities, but in the last year there has been so much good stuff happening and it feels like we're on our way to becoming a full-fledged comedy city again. 

Some of my favorites:

Comedy Nest at the Rendezvous, a staple of Seattle standup and an incubator for smart, progressive, and inclusive standup that encourages and supports diverse voices in the comedy community. It's a great place to see comedy that isn't all straight dudes with beards and hygiene issues.

Joketeller's Union at Clock Out Lounge, a twice-monthly showcase of unique performers, musicians, and standups. Hosted by my two comedy dads, Emmett Montgomery and Brett Hamill. I love that venue so much!

Some of the comedians 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! Which city has the funnier comedians? 

I love Seattle. I’ve lived here for 53 years and I really, REALLY love it here. I love the vistas and the crisp mountain air, and while I think that Portland certainly has one of the most thriving, exciting, energetic comedy scenes in the country… I live here and don’t want anyone to shit in my coffee, so DEFINITELY Seattle!

Later this month you and fellow Undisputed Genius of Comedy Emmett Montgomery are launching a new monthly comedy night called Friendship Dungeon at Comedy/Bar. Can you tell us more about that? I read that there might be puppets!

Emmett and I had been talking a lot about the lack of late-night weirdo shows in Seattle, since COVID tried to murder all of our bars and restaurants. We wanted to do something in the spirit of all those crazy fun, midnight variety shows that used to dot the hill in the early aughts. Where the anticipation was in not knowing what to expect but knowing you didn’t want to miss it in case something magical occurred. We really want to showcase acts from every corner of Seattle’s diverse performance community, not just standup: dance, drag, filmmakers, songwriters… puppets. Everything.

Friendship Dungeon is late-night weirdo fun for everyone, at Capitol Hill’s newest/coolest comedy venue, Comedy/Bar!

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A post shared by Derek Sheen (@dereksheen666)

I was looking at your Instagram and holy shit it made me hungry. You appear to be a pretty good cook! Are you self-taught? Do you have professional experience? Related: Do you have a favorite thing to make right now with local produce? The farmers markets have so much great stuff right now!

I’ve always loved to cook for people and I would say I was pretty okay in the kitchen. But after we moved my granddad in, over lockdown, I did online culinary training and turned our house into a food lab. My gramps was on a rapid decline into dementia and one of the things he missed the most was venturing out to try new restaurants and sharing his experiences with friends and family. So, since there was no way that was happening, why not turn our home into a different restaurant every night? It was exciting and risky and sometimes the results weren’t great, but I got more and more confident with every new dish and he started looking forward to that evening’s meal from the moment he woke up. It was a lot of work but so worth it to see him happy for a couple hours out of every day.  

Now, I get to cook for fun and occasionally I’ll do a dinner show for strangers where I come to their home, prepare a four-course meal, and perform a full show in their living room.

Which comedy club/venue in Seattle has the best food?

As a person who has been fortunate to get to travel the world for comedy, one thing that seems to be ubiquitous among comedy clubs across the globe is how everything but the french fries will give me explosive, blinding diarrhea. It’s like the sun rising and setting; it’s just going to happen and there is nothing anyone can do to change that. I’m not sure who has the better food, but I know that if I stick to the fries, whatever pants I’m wearing will live to see a brighter day. 

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

Read our interview with Undisputable Genius of Comedy Natalie Holt here.