In early August, Food Network star Guy Fieri started trending. This wasn’t because the Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and Guy’s Grocery Games host had done anything in particular, but because of a nearly five-minute bit from comedian Shane Torres’s debut album, Established 1981. “This may be somewhat of a controversial opinion,” the Fort Worth, Texas native warns the audience, “but can someone please explain to me what the fuck Guy Fieri ever did to anyone?” From there, Torres deconstructs the otherwise hilarious hatred so many people have for the celebrity chef — while also adding a few jabs of his own.
“A Man Named Fieri Filled With Fury” is well worth the attention. Even so, it’s not the only thing Torres has to offer on his new album, which drops Friday, September 8th. The culmination of a stand-up career that started in Portland, Oregon with the likes of Ron Funches and made its way across the country to New York, Established 1981 is an hour rife with jokes and bereft of dead air. Torres chatted with Uproxx about the record and his comedic upbringing in Portland.
I’m always pleasantly surprised by just how big Portland’s comedy scene is, especially during the last decade.
Oh yeah, me too. The city is a pretty special place for me. Especially since I moved there from Texas. It was definitely an experience moving from a super conservative place to a very liberal place where everybody has a book in their bag, wherever you go. They’re solving all the world’s problems and they’re just talking about it. They’re not actually doing anything. That kind of stuff. Like, everybody’s got an answer but nobody’s actually gonna drop a load and get shit done. So it’s something like that.
I guess the scene just kind of blew up. I started there. It’ll be ten years in November that I’ve been doing stand-up. And that Portland scene, when I started, was barely there. There weren’t that many mics. I just thought the people who were already doing it there were the funniest fucking thing I’d ever seen in my life. I just kinda fell in love with it and kept going. And everybody was like, “Oh you gotta come in and see Ronny. He’s the funniest person.” And sure enough, he was certainly one of the funniest people I’d ever seen. Still is. Then Ian Karmel came around, and he and I lived together for a while — three or four years, probably.
Sean Jordan showed up, then Amy Miller. There was nothing to be gained at first, it was so small — just people who liked doing stand-up, hanging out in bars, and enjoying one another. Ron was the first person to have some real success. I don’t know if “blaze the trail” is the right way to put it, but he was certainly the first one to have major success. It was like, “Maybe we can do some of this stuff, too.” It just kind of kept growing, and then the addition of the Bridgetown Comedy Festival changed the game for a lot of us. A lot of top tier talent started coming through.
Were you doing comedy before you came to Portland, or was moving there what made it happen?
I started about two years after I got to Portland. I left Texas and was like, “I’m gonna go find my life” or whatever, so I moved to another city and just did the same thing. I worked as a bartender and a busboy for a couple of years. You know, like your buddy who says, “San Diego was fine, but I prefer the leisure of the TGI Fridays in Spring, Texas.” They just kinda move to a place that’s a little more expensive, doing the same jobs they did before. But I always loved comedy. Cosby, Hicks and Carlin were my guys. It wasn’t like a thing you can start doing at full force. I didn’t know how to go about it, and then I walked into a local show and saw this guy there working on his fucking thing.