The Failure Variety Show


At Bumbershoot!

Sunday, August 31, 1:45-2:45pm

Charlotte Martin Theatre, Seattle Center (at the Seattle Children's Theatre)

FEATURING: Carrie Akre, Kelleen Conway Blanchard, Bryan Cook, Brett Hamil, and Eric Olson w/ Timothy Firth; hosted by Emmett Montgomery!

Entry to the show requires a Bumbershoot festival ticket, which can be purchased here

The Project Room presents an hour-long variety show featuring a critical part of the creative process: failure. Mixing humor with artistic disaster, The Failure Variety Show will feature rapid-fire presentations by a talented lineup of special guests, followed by the live on-stage reveal of the Failure Variety Show Rube Goldberg Machine, created during the show by artist Eric Olson and destined not to succeed.


Why are you making a Rube Goldberg Machine during a live show about failure? you may ask yourself. Well, we thought it was the ultimate test of something that's really difficult and is certainly not meant to be made in one hour in front of an audience in a theater. Thus, it has a high potential for disaster, and we think you will enjoy watching us face failure live on stage.

Why are you collecting stories of failure, and what am I supposed to do about it? you may also ask yourself. In order avoid failing alone, we would like to hear your personal anecdotes of failure for sharing during the Failure Variety Show (yes, you can be anonymous). Send your failure story to

About the Presenters:

In the early ’90s, Carrie Akre was the lead singer of Hammerbox, a potent alternative rock outfit with guitar hooks as sharp as Nirvana’s but without the record label push the group deserved. In August 1993, Hammerbox performed at Endfest in Washington State to an audience of more than 14,000 fans, sharing the stage with well-known college-radio favorites like X, Social Distortion, and They Might Be Giants. The group was dropped, marking the beginning of Akre’s difficulties with major labels, one that would motivate her to start her own label, Good-Ink Records. Akre formed the band Goodness in 1994 whose self-titled first album was first released on Y Records and then later re-released onLava, an imprint of Atlantic Records. Their second LP, Anthem, for Atlantic in 1998 was shelved after failing to produce a “single”. The label dropped the band soon there after. Goodness disbanded in 2000. In 1999, Akre joined the Rockfords with guitarist Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, Rick Friel (vocals), and ex-Goodness members Danny Newcomb (bass) and Chris Friel (drums). Akre released her solo debut, Home, in 2000 (on GoodInk Records), Invitation in 2002 (on self owned My Way Records) and Last the Evening in 2007 (on Loveless Records).


Kelleen Conway Blanchard is a Seattle playwright. Her work has been seen/produced at Annex Theatre, Macha Monkey, Balagan Theatre, Weird and Awesome, Live Girls!, 12 Minutes Max, 14/48, Spin the Bottle and as part of FringeACT. Her plays have been nominated for the Gregory awards and the Gypsy Rose Lee awards. Outside of Seattle, her plays have been part of Eight Tens at Eight in Santa Cruz, the 2nd Annual Festival of New Short Plays in Belfast, Maine and Perishable Theatre’s Women’s Playwriting Festival. She is inspired by ordinary creepiness and terrible secrets. She also enjoys those internet videos of raccoons. Her new play, The Blood Countess will be produced at Annex theater in the Fall. Come see it! There will be blood.


Comic/writer Bryan Cook, recently named one of LA Weekly’s 10 Comics to Watch for 2014, is the host and creator of the live show (and podcast on the Nerdist network) Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction (one of Rolling Stone’s Top 10 Comedy Podcasts) presented every month at The Virgil in LA, as well as all over the US. He writes for Funny or Die, was featured in the comedy special Dancing Around the Shit Fire with Kyle Kinane, and has performed at JFL Chicago, Outside Lands (SF), High Plains Comedy Fest (Denver), SF Sketchfest, Bridgetown Comedy Fest (Portland), Riot LA, and Bumbershoot (Seattle). Cook has also contributed to McSweeney’s, written for Ridiculousness on MTV, Fashion Police, and various Joan Rivers projects. 


Brett Hamil is a standup comic based in Seattle, where The Stranger called him “a truly treasured ham.” He writes a monthly humor column for City Arts Magazine along with cartoons, essays, videos, and interviews. He performs at clubs, colleges, and festivals all over the U.S. and Canada, including the Bridgetown Comedy Festival (Portland), Northwest Comedy Fest (Vancouver) and Bumbershoot (right here now). He is the creator of the award-eligible one-man sketch comedy podcast Ham Radio with Brett Hamil, featured on the Earwolf Podcast Network’s Earwolf Challenge. His videos have been featured on websites like Upworthy and the Daily Dot, receiving hundreds of thousands of views. He lives atop Beacon Hill with his wife and two dogs, all of whom he found on the internet. 

Emmett Montgomery (FVS Host) is a storyteller, comedian and artist who first found the stand-up stage in 2004 and has been failing beautifully ever since. Emmett has been involved in a lot of things including critically acclaimed comedy collectives, post apocalyptic variety shows, underground wrestling leagues and family friendly comedy nights in pizza restaurants. Mr. Montgomery has been featured the film “Seattle Komedy Documentary”, the coffee table book “Seattle 100: a portrait of a city” and multiple festivals including Bumbershoot and the Bridgetown Comedy and Sasquatch festivals. In addition to wandering the country telling jokes, he currently curates and hosts a love letter to Seattle in the form of variety show/sharing party entitled “Weird and Awesome with Emmett Montgomery” at the beloved Annex Theatre; and is a member of the Seattle chapter of the Bushwick Book Club, a collection of musicians and artists that create and perform original works based on literary sources. 


Eric John Olson (Rube Goldberg Machine Designer w/ Timothy Firth) is an artist and engineer. He studied computer science at Seattle University and human-computer interaction at Columbia University. Olson works with video, digital media, installation and participation to explore how we relate to ourselves and one another. Recently he helped create SEAWORTHY, a curatorial project dedicated to creative practices that value collaboration, experimentation, and social engagement.

Read more about other TPR programs related to the topic of Failure