There are many ways to describe Tim Ledwith, however I think fellow Portland comic Dan Weber put it best by referring to Tim as a "Never Miss Comic". Whether it's a dingy open mic, or the perfect lighting situation that is the Helium Comedy Club, I can assure you of one thing: You want to watch Tim Ledwith perform.
Originally from the greater Boston area, Tim moved to Portland about 6 years ago from NYC and has lived an eventful life to say the very least. Some of these events include being a teenage sex worker, working at the JFK airport while blitzed out on meth, manning the night shift at Taboo on 82nd, and other horrors/curiosities that would fry a normal persons brain.
But that's besides the point. When it comes right down to it, Tim is just one of the funniest people I've ever seen. He's one of those guys where you want to travel with him just so you can see the faces people make while they try to process what's happening when he's performing. It's like watching a child see the ocean for the first time.
Hanging around Tim can also feel like walking around with a small tornado that's already crashed through several towns and has a ton of debris flying around in it. That said, it felt appropriate to just ask the most basic question you can ask a person and see where the conversation would lead itself.
Danny: So, how are you doing. What's been going on lately?
Tim: Well, you know, lately life wise and comedy wise I think I'm in a better place than I was in more recent times. Yeah, I feel like I got things on the horizon that I'm excited about. I don't know. I feel like 2015--is that the year we're in?
Danny: That's the one.
Tim: ...I feel like it's kinda mirroring...sorry I shouldn't be eating my thing...
(throughout the beginning segment of this interview Tim was eating a frozen GoGurt)
Tim: ...it's kinda mirroring my 2011 experience. 2011 was a really dark, dismal year and a lot of shit went down.
Danny: So 2011 started okay and got terrible?
Tim: Nah, it was just different. Because it was my 27th birthday on December 20th, 2010 and that was a lunar eclipse. And as you know I was born during a lunar eclipse and then on my 27h birthday I had another lunar eclipse so you do the math on that. That's fucking amazing.
No, but this year was like that. I had a really dark Winter and Spring I feel like and now I think things are...Well, okay. Why I'm connecting it to 2011: In 2011 I had a dark Winter and Spring and then I came back to Portland around this time around August. And it was still rough but all these amazing good things started happening.
This year, I'm kinda in that same boat. Like, things aren't that great right now but there's a light at the end of the tunnel.
Danny: Are you kind of leveling out? Which can be more normal and a little more boring, but it's less mentally draining?
Tim: Well, I'm also past a bunch of other stuff. Not comedy stuff, just life stuff.
Danny: Comedically where are you right now?
Tim: I'm feeling pretty good! I feel like I kind of have bursts. I'll have periods of time where I generate material or I come up with new stuff really quickly. One after another. I don't know, I guess I kinda do comedy the way I do things in life where I binge. So I have binges of time where I generate new material and then I have low times.
Danny: Well I've definitely been around you when you've eaten too many hot dogs and you feel sick afterwards.
(Sidenote: Being around Tim when he's hungry is like being around an animal that hasn't eaten in months. A couple weeks ago he ate too many 7/11 hot dogs at once and had to lay on the floor of my apartment for a bit)
Tim: Yeah yeah! And you know we've talked about how I have problems with drug dependency but even that usually just manifested itself in a binging sort of way rather than a day to day thing.
Danny: It was never a thing that was so consistent that you need it all the time.
Tim: Well well, sometimes I was just on a consistent binge. For a long time. And that's when things would get bad.
But yeah...what the hell...that dog's running away now!
(at this point we saw a dog running really fast in the park near the Broadway Fred Meyers as well as some kinds playing on a play structure)
Tim: What is it like, midnight or something?
Danny: Nah, it's definitely 10PM.
Tim: Man, that's what I miss about New York is it can be 3AM and there's kids outside playing. Fucking cool. I'm jealous of them.
Danny: You going to go back there any time soon?
Tim: You know, I would like to in the Fall. See my goals right now are...I don't know...I may not be as ambitious as I thought. I think for the month of October, maybe? Or somewhere around then I'm going to try to leave town and just try to stay in another place for a month. So I might go to Seattle, WA for month or something.
Danny: You do that occasionally.
Tim: Well, I've only done that once and that was just very poorly planned. But I was planning on leaving Portland for like a few months. I think more realistically now--because I like my living situation now--I'm just going to try for Seattle. And you know I've got a lot of friends in Austin, TX too.
Danny: I guess what I'm saying is you seem okay being able to try something like that. I remember you mentioning that you were touring with a band as the opening act.
Tim: Yeah, I did that before. But that was when I first started. I would actually want to do that again but it's definitely rough. That's like...a different city every night. I want to go to a place and be there for a minute. A place that isn't here. And I'm not trying to shit on here.
Danny: Do you get caught in loops?
Tim: To be honest, it's only been recently that I kinda felt negatively about here. And ultimately I don't; it's where I call home. If I died today I'd get buried out here. It's been my home for 6 years. I mean, this is where I live!
Danny: You've always mentioned to me that the East Coast is verrrry different from here.
Tim: I feel that way and there's things I miss about it but I don't feel at home when I go back there. In fact, actually, when I was back there recently last December I felt like it put me in a mental place where I reverted. Where I think and act in ways I just don't even...it's not part of my day to day at all, and I don't like it.
But I would like to get back to NYC. I lived in New York for 2 years and I would like to get back there and I would definitely like to do comedy there.
Danny: You have this weird hand in multimedia stuff.
(check out Tim's Tumblr. It's infrequently updated, but full of some for real weirdo .gif experiments Tim has created over the years among other things)
Tim: Yeah. I'm trying to get back into the gist of it but it was definitely a big part of my life. Maybe a decade ago.
Danny: What do you think felt the most pure as far as making that sort of stuff goes?
Tim: Definitely these video mix things I would make. Audio/Visual experiments. Like, people are aware of this group in the early 90's called The Emergency Broadcast Network. And all that shit was inspired by the times. Like, I was really radically political and this was right after 9/11. I would just tape tons of shit from TV. Hours and hours of stuff from CNN, CSPAN; shit like that. And then I would rip it in to my computer and I would make these video mixes.
But you know I look at it now and it's very dated. I "see" where my mind was.
Danny: (laughing) Where was it?
Tim: I was 19 years old. I was pretty charged from the political environment or whatever.
You know, I guess I still do this. There's this word that's entered my lexicon recently that describes what I do. Apophenia.
Tim: It's like finding connections and patterns in things that don't necessarily have them.
Danny: So, like being a regular human but charged up to 11.
Tim: Basically. It's not too much of a problem for me. Like, it's the style of comedy that I do that happens a lot. I find it to be funny. But I also kind of believe it? I don't fully believe it--cause here the thing:
Finding patterns where there's no patterns; I think it's hilarious. But I also do believe it, BUT, I also don't take life seriously at all? So, I don't take that seriously? But it comes from a real place. You can make anything significant, you know?
Danny: Like making the Carls Jr. star say J. Robert Oppenheimer quotes?
(Tim has some really good impressions. One of them is where he stretches out his face into a weird Guy Fawkes style smile, raises his voice to a falsetto, and starts quoting the guy who helped create the atomic bomb. Then he reveals he's impersonating the star from Carls Jr. It's weird, and hilarious)
Tim: Yeah! When I was a child I had a photographic memory so I have the oldest information swirling around my head and I also have 20+ years of just terrible drug abuse to my brain and I pay attention to very specific things in our culture and history.
It's just a hodgepodge of info in my head. It's kind of a trick. Cause it's not smart. Like when I actually plan things out I can sometimes make something that's more than it is, but most of the time my thoughts are just a big mash up of broken brain.
Danny: But it is funny?
Tim: That's the thing! It is, but there's a certain amount of belief behind it. Like I said before, I don't take life seriously so I don't take that seriously, but if were actually inclined to take life seriously I would be so fucking annoying. I'd be finding all these connections and things.
Danny: You'd be on AM radio at 3 in the morning.
Tim: I'd be convinced I'm being gang stalked. All the time.
Danny: Well buddy, I'll talk to you again soon.
Tim: Oh. (conspiratorial) You will. (laughs)
Do yourself a favor and watch Tim perform. He'll be at Helium doing Don Frost's True Tall Tales show at Helium which is all storytelling on 8/12 @ 8PM.
Also, for those with some more time on their hands listen to Episode XII of my podcast here which explains Tim's origin story in greater detail. It's wild and much like a piece of clickbait, "you won't BELIEVE what happens next!".