RON HARTMAN/CHRONICLE PHOTO

Comedian Dash Thompson at the Village Green on Saturday night.

COTTAGE GROVE -- James Blame isn’t joking when he says comedy saved his life.

It was 2010 and he had lost his wife to cancer earlier that year. He wasn’t dealing with it well. He knew he needed to find a way to laugh again. 

“I found myself so depressed, wanting to blow my brains out,” said Blame, who in 2020 founded the Eugene Comedy Crescendo. “I wrote out a set in 2010 and went up to the stage, and for the first time in a year I didn’t feel any pain or grief. For the first time I could escape the tremendous depression that I was feeling. 

“Another thing that comedy does is that it takes you out of your own skin and makes you realize there are other people out there struggling with their own various problems, so we all come together and we all connect, we all laugh together and it makes all of our lives better.

“And that’s why I do comedy. It helps me to deal with my situation, but I feel I’m helping not only the audience, but other comics and we all progress in a better mindframe.” 

On this night at the Village Green, the Eugene Comedy Crescendo featured Eugene’s Penny Glass, Salem’s Dash Thompson and Brownsville’s Terry Geil. Musical entertainment was provided by James Manning III, who also tells jokes. 

“He’s a dual-threat, so we use him a lot,” Blame said. 

Here is a little excerpt from Glass’ performance:

“I think the word ‘awkward’ is awkward. It’s like A-W-K-W … spell-check, are you serious? I’ve never put those letters together in my life. That is an awk-word.

“I also think it is a shame and a disservice that spell-check will check out on you if you decide to text somebody in all capital letters because you’re angry. Spell-check is, like, ‘Whoa, you’re angry. You’re on your own. Spell-check jumps off onto its white stallion and gallops off into the sunset.

“But this is when I need you the nost7,, c’mon spell-check! He slept with my sizzle. (No, I don’t have a sizzle, just a younger brothel. ...) 

***

“We rotate comics, because we want to keep the jokes fresh, and we like to give as many comics as we can opportunities to perform in front of paying audiences,” Blame said. “That’s one of our goals.” 

Thompson said his crowd exchanges are generally the part of the show he enjoys most.

“It’s fun, mining for material from the audience,” he said. “It’s building an interplay in the air. But it fuels me.” 

Many of us apparently didn’t properly exercise our “giggle muscles” during the pandemic. 

“They’ve done actual studies that when people laugh, their lives improve,” Blame said. “I know that sounds oversimplified, but it is a euphoric feeling.”