End of School Special – Show Notes


Who's the Ross? - End of School Special - Dante's Portland comedy Kerri Jonquil aerialist sidestage

5 minutes before I hit stage, already 10 minutes after when I was supposed to be on stage, I swear there couldn’t have been more than a dozen people at Dante’s. 90 degree weather + the Rose Festival couldn’t have helped, but this was going to be bad. My monologue was “yearbook superlatives” which were to be bestowed on unsuspecting audience members. No audience, no jokes. This wasn’t one of those openers that I could just put energy into, and hope the crowd would build as the night went along. So, in a panic, I saw a couple at the bar I knew, and quickly whispered in my friend’s ear that I needed them in the crowd…like, now! They obliged, and as the band wrapped up their final opening song, I stood side stage mentally preparing myself for the small crowd that awaited. I thought about which jokes to adapt to the small audience, which I could cut, and how I could ad-lib in order to get these people on my side.

To my total shock, and I’ve rarely seen this happen, those 5 minutes allowed the audience to fill up completely, every chair was taken by the time I had the mic in my hand. The monologue went better than expected, and from there, it was our fantastic guest line-up that took over. A guest line-up that deserved and was worthy of a full crowd. And so the joke goes…a folk artist, aerialist, and hot sauce chef walk into a bar…

Musician Kyle Craft was the real deal! This kid is gonna be big. If Beck & Bob Dylan had a love-child, this would be him. Kerri Jonquil, an aerialist that I work with at Dante’s Sinferno, was absolutely fantastic. Amazing talent, and a wonderful interview, she was playful, energetic, and lovely to riff with. I had been trying to get her on the program for the past year or so, and I’m glad she finally took the leap to join big bad me on stage. Rounding it out was our long-time friend and collaborator Chef Andrew Garrett, whose NW Elixirs Hot Sauce has been sponsoring the show for years. He had recently been featured on the Food Network original series “Chopped” as well as a spread (rim-shot) in Penthouse Magazine. We could not be more proud of his success, and grateful for his consistently enthusiastic support!

A side note to this terrific guest line-up… After this week’s show co-writer Jordan Paladino & I took off to the coast for a couple days. Reminiscing about past shows, and writing new material for this week’s presentation, we looked back at some set-lists from a year ago. What we saw were shows featuring a single guest, less successful material, and less polish. It was delightful, and in some ways a bit sad, to see how far we have come. Because a year from now, we’ll probably be shaking our heads at what we’re doing this very moment. But the guest line-ups we’re putting together for audiences now: a 3-prong attack always featuring a musician, celebrity interview, + diverse local performer (could be a comedian, circus act, etc), make me proud. It was a good feeling to look back as we keep moving forward.

-Aaron Ross

All photos by Tom Chamberlain:


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