Willamette graduate finds success as comedian

What started as a performance at Willamette University’s student-run coffee shop has turned into a career for Nathan Brannon ’06, whose chops as a stand-up comedian recently garnered him the title of Portland’s Funniest Person.

Brannon beat out 87 of Portland’s best comedians this month to earn the 2012 title in a week-long contest hosted by Helium Comedy Club.

At Willamette, Brannon majored in rhetoric and media studies with a minor in American ethnic studies. He was introduced to comedy after signing up to perform at The Bistro on campus. He continued to perform as often as he could, and after graduation, he moved to Portland to start a stand-up comedy career.

Most of his material comes from his own life experiences. He has dealt with his fair share of adversity — including being hit by a car and struggling with an illness that resulted in his colon being removed. Instead of letting these experiences stop him, he turned them into comedy material for the stage.

He also draws on his experiences as a newlywed in an interracial relationship. “We come from two different worlds,” he says of his wife, Kirsten. “Her dad killed a bear, which blows my mind. It takes me two pairs of shoes to kill a spider.”

Learn more about Brannon’s comedy at