October 21st, 2022

PNW Comedy Club Brings the Laughs to McMinnville

A group of people smile while they hold up a sign that says PNW Comedy.
Brunello is pictured on the far left. Photo courtesy of PNW Comedy Club.

I don’t remember how it even came up, but at one point talking to Andrew Brunello, I said, “When the Cascadia earthquake hits and the Willamette Valley slides into the Pacific Ocean, Bend will be the new Portland.”

Without missing a beat, he replied: “And Klamath Falls will be Salem.”

Brunello is a stand-up comic, a profession he sort of wandered into with no expectations. A 2006 McMinnville High School graduate, he considered studying business law but one day he and a friend decided they’d try their hand at the art form and then they took short routines to an open mic in Portland.

“It turned out great,” he said. “I mean, it was amazing! We met a lot of people and had a great time.”

Brunello has done stand-up for several years and had a lot of fun, but he performs only sparingly now, because he’s a comic with a mission: Bringing live stand-up comedy to McMinnville. So far, even coming off our pandemic years, the mission has been successful, with sold-out crowds at 3rd Street Pizza Company’s Moonlight Theater downtown and even drawing national names out to wine country to headline a show, including Mo Mandel and Kyle Kinane. The latter’s work has appeared on Netflix and Comedy Central and, earlier in his career, he was named Variety’s “Ten Comics to Watch” in 2010.

Brunello recalls the night the ball really got rolling, the finals of the Western Oregon Comedy Competition, held right here in Mac.

“That night we had a complete sell-out,” he said. “Our next night was a sellout, and our third show was a sellout. The customers here love what we’re doing. Just based on our ticket sales, we’ve been able to propel that into a base of customers that will enable us to significantly expand over time.”

So instead of doing shows, Brunello produces shows, several nights a week in McMinnville and several other venues in the Willamette Valley, under the auspices of PNW Comedy. Almost single-handedly, Brunello is turning McMinnville into an entertainment destination for fans of stand-up and improv.

“There’s nothing to do in McMinnville after a certain time, so if we do a comedy show that starts at 9 p.m., people who came down to do wine-tasting all day, they want something to do at night. And we’re grabbing those customers.” 

Looking for a different kind of local date-night? Check out Pacific Northwest Comedy online at www.pnwcomedy.com and on Facebook.    

A cartoon of David Bates

About the author: David Bates is a McMinnville writer who has appeared in Gallery Theater productions since 1998.