On Sunday, Shanan Kelley spent the afternoon standing knee deep in the Deschutes River's spongy mud banks with a glass of water in one hand and a bottle of Deschutes Brewery beer in the other. She was trying to refill Mirror Pond with a mixture of water and Mirror Pond Pale Ale.
Kelley is not an environmentalist (obviously) or a dam expert or a landscape architect; she's a comedian, and she was taping several Bend-centric skits for the pilot of her upcoming live talk show, the Night Light Show.
"We were stupid, we were acting like children. It was the best day ever," said Kelley. "I actually had rubber gloves on and went down into Mirror Pond...it was almost an immediate face plant—knuckles deep—it was so gnarly. It is almost like set concrete down there."
Before moving here four years ago, Kelley did some standup comedy in Seattle. Now, she wants to be Bend's very own Chelsea Handler, but with the heart of Johnny Carson. Her desire to discuss local issues, profile local artists and make people laugh propelled her to organize a brand new 60-minute live variety talk show at one of her favorite spaces in town, the Tin Pan Theater.
Kelley will play host to the collaborative multimedia project, which will feature a grab bag of typical late-night antics: standup; filmed and live skits; interviews with local business owners; and live music.
"There's stuff that we want to talk about in our community, and this is an interesting forum for it," said Kelley. "I think this will be a nice way for people to find something that is their flavor."
But it won't be all Patagonia puffy coat, Cycle Pub and stand up paddleboard jokes.
The topics she plans to broach are broad: For the first show she will interview Gordon Benzer, the owner of local bakery Baked, Jesse Roberts from Rise Up International and Chelsea Woodmansee, the winner of Bend's last comic standing in 2011.
Kelley also said that she feels comedy is the best way to force people to talk about uncomfortable topics, so there will be some of those too.
"We'll talk about gender issues because we have to. I would say anything is on the table," she explained.
Kelley has corralled a group of local artists to contribute to the project including Jesse Locke of AMZ productions who recently won accolades at the Los Angeles horror film festival Zed Fest for his terrifying short "Easter," and Kacyee Anseth, a collage artist who is designing the set and will perform musical numbers with the duo Gold Rust. Artist Rachael Lee-Carman will be creating a live zine based on the show in a miniature format on the back of the event posters.
"I'm doing live sketches and pulling quotes from what people are saying, live action drawing and writing about what's going on," explained Lee-Carman. "It's almost like a graphic facilitation, which is people drawing while a lecture is going on, illustrating points that are being made. Capturing the moment, I guess, and turning it into something that goes beyond the moment."
Contingent on the success of Thursday's show, Kelley and the gang hope to make Night Light a monthly occasion with the next show already slated for January 14.
Night Light Show Thursday Nov. 21
Doors at 7:30 pm, show at 8 pm.
Tin Pan Theater, 860 NW Tin Pan Alley
Limited tickets available. | $10.