BY LEAH MAURER
I had not heard about this comedy show until recently, and got to attend my first (of what I hope will be many) a few months ago and laughed so hard I cried! This show is a fairly typical comedy show with a twist as the comedians perform after cannabis consumption.
The concept is simple: the comedians come in and each perform a set of comedy. Then, they take an intermission and go off site and get dabbed out of their brains. Rip City Remedies helps with the product and Hermetic Botanicals helps with the edibles and their other products. After their sesh, the comedians return to the venue (the Funhouse Lounge is who hosts these shows in Portland) and each do a second set of comedy while under the influence.
While I thoroughly enjoyed both sets, it was definitely more humorous to watch the comedians perform while they were high, especially when they called themselves out for it! One of the comedians we watched spent half of his second set telling us about his exit strategy to get popcorn and ice cream, ha!
Comic Billy Anderson is the mastermind and host behind The Gateway Show. I got to learn a little more about this unique comedy show from him and wanted to share what he had to say about it.
Billy Anderson in front of a sold out crowd at one of The Gateway Shows in Portland.
When and why did you begin the Gateway show? And when did you begin to
expand the show to places other than Seattle?
The Gateway Show began in February of 2015. I have to give a lot of the
credit to a brainstorming session I had with my friend, roommate and
co-producer Erin Ingle. We produce shows four nights a week at Jai Thai on
Broadway, a Thai restaurant / comedy venue in Seattle. We originally
produced a competition in that venue called Comedy on Trial every Saturday,
but we wanted to move it once a month and free up the other Saturday for
different shows. We were trying to think up interesting formats, and
recently in the area a somewhat similar show was popular that involved
drinking. Since we wanted to put a spin in out, we thought we could make it
work with pot and here we are. Of course, the show has more to it than just
being a pot spin on the format with all the audience interaction we do, but
I definitely need to give credit where it’s due. We started to expand almost
immediately. I believe the first place we went to outside of Seattle was
Bellingham to do our first 4/20 show at Upfront Theatre (which we still work
with, now on a monthly basis) and it was a total success. That same year
Portland legalized weed recreationally, so we came down and did our first
Portland show in November. In July of 2016 we went down the West coast with
the show and it’s been well receieved everywhere we’ve taken it. We’ve been
very fortunate to be able to do as much with the show as we have.
How was the show received and why did you choose the name that you did for
I actually missed the first two shows we ever produced due to having other
gigs, and I was shocked to find out how immediately successful it was. It
can be hard to produce independent, locally based comedy, so to have a show
sell out for the first show ever (much less the first handful of shows) is
always shocking even if it isn’t unheard of. We went from there to tweak the
show to make it better for the audience. For example, I think originally we
had something like NINE comics on the show and it ran way late, so we’ve
changed that down to four over the years. We’ve added sponsors over time, we
added an proper intermission, we added post-intermission games, we added
video and audio recording and we’ve truly upper the quality and expectations
we have for the comedians we book on the show. Again, we’ve been fortunate
to have a show and venues that allow us a chance to experiment and improve
on the format itself.
The name is kind of a long running joke. When we first started doing the
show we would often start it by going through a list of the better names we
could have come up with like “High Brow” or “Smoke Alarm” or “There Will Be
Bud”. We settled on “The Gateway Show” for three reasons. The first one (and
least important) is that we wanted something that immediately made you think
of drugs and included the word show so you knew there was a live element.
The second one was that we wanted to sort of make fun of the alarmist ideas
about weed and play into the fact that while weed can and does ruin you
socially (as we’ve seen plenty of the show), that no amount of it will kill
you. Finally, we wanted a name we could own that was easy to search for, and
since no one else would choose a name so dweeby, The Gateway Show was all
Who are the main/ongoing sponsors for this show?
We work with different people in different cities. In Portland we’ve been
working with Rip City Remedies pretty much from the start. They’re moving
their shop so we might lose them as a sponsor for a little bit, but they’ve
honestly been just SO great to us, so we look forward to working with them
again once they relocate. Also in Portland we work with Hermetic Botanicals,
which has been a huge supporter of the show on a nationwide level. I can’t
say enough nice things about Karl. He’s a real peach! Outside of Portland,
we work with NW Cannabis in Olympia and Top Shelf Cannabis in Bellingham. In
Seattle we work with Tiller Natural and Fweedom Cannabis. Both of our
Seattle sponsors have been great to us, butFweedomhas really taken an “all
in” approach and helped us to expand. They are big supporters of the show in
general and I doubt we could have moved from two cities monthly to four
without their support.
What is one particular show that stands out to you and why?
Goodness, that’s a hard one! By nature of this silly show, there are always
moments that stand out to me on every show, but I can think of one set that
stands out in particular. There is a super talented young comic in Seattle
named Bo Johnson who doesn’t smoke weed very often at all. He decided to do
the show and ended up doing a dab for the first time and I swear it just
made him insane. His sober set crushed but his high set had people DYING. He
was the first comic, so pretty much everyone else after he went up was just
like “I’m high but I’m definitely not as high as Bo Johnson.” After everyone
went up and we were just about to wrap up the show he grabs me by the arm
and asks “Hey, can I make some closing statements?” I assumed he had sobered
up a little and wanted to thank the audience or something? Nope, he was just
as high as he was when he went up originally and proceeded to give all the
other comedians compliments on their sets, tell the audience how much he
loved them and then happy cry because he felt they were all such good
people. He did all this while I was on stage watching with a mixture of
humor and horror. It is still without a doubt my favorite Gateway Show
The Gateway Show continues to grow in its following and interest. Why do you
think that is? And what do you think this says about cannabis consumers and
cannabis policy reform as a whole?
I say this a lot during the show, but I think a major reason people are
interested is that we are a country of transplants and many people who come
to our shows understand that the reality is many places don’t have the
freedom to do this show. It’s empowering to go to a silly comedy show and
think to yourself “Wow, look how far we’ve come in regard to marijuana
prohibition. We’re allowed to watch comedians smoke and act like idiots all
for the price of a movie ticket. What a time to be alive!” On top of that I
think we also benefit from the large amounts of quality talent in the
Pacific Northwest. This area has so many interesting, smart, talented, young
comedians that we have access to that it’s easy to put on a monthly show
that keeps up its quality. I’ve been really lucky to have access to some of
the people that have done the show. I don’t know if I could do it monthly in
an area without such a deep pool of talent.
I don’t know what it says about consumers and cannabis policy other than
that I think it’s great people are still selling out our shows every month
and that the government hasn’t shut us down. Thank you, America! Please keep
What are your future plans for the show?
I want to keep expanding the show down the West coast. I would love to have
a monthly or quarterly Gateway Show in LA and SF by the end of this year, if
possible. We’re working on it!
The next Gateway Show in Portland will be on April 7th, and they are planning a special 4/20 show here as well.
You can find out about these and the shows in other cites here. Enjoy!