For beloved local comedian Chelsea Woodmansee, Bend was not quite love at first sight. “I moved here in the third grade because my dad’s job brought us here. At first, Bend seemed desolate and so small. Plus we had moved away from relatives that I loved. But people were so friendly, and the outside recreation so wonderful, it didn’t take very long before I fell in love with this town.”
A stand-up comedian who is a fixture in the local scene, Chelsea has taught improvisation classes, performed in many local clubs, MC-ed events including the Bend A Cappella Festival & the Bend Follies, and contributed her talent to non-profits & fundraisers near and far. What motivated her to start down the path of making people laugh? “I would sit in the front row of every comedy show I went to and nearly lunge onto the stage with overwhelming eagerness. I thought: I can do that! I want to do that! One day my brother strong-armed me into auditioning for Last Comic Standing, and I received great support from veterans and newbies alike. I ended up winning the 2011 competition and it further fueled my passion.”
Chelsea says that what motivates her most is to make other people happy. She says Bend also makes people happy. “You get shamed if you are not a recreational person around here. Everyone tells you to, ‘Go outside! Enjoy the wilderness!’ There’s always something new to try and enjoy near Bend.”
Locals have also heard Chelsea speak at Les Schwab Amphitheater performances, as Chelsea has worked with the Old Mill District management office for the past seven years. Love the free Summer Sunday concert series? That’s Chelsea’s baby, and as the Old Mill’s Sponsorship & Events Coordinator, she helps organize and run all the other concerts at the amphitheater as well. Chelsea is especially proud of how far she has come professionally because she has not had a chance to finish college. She loves learning on the job, and she has had a wide range of professions in the past fifteen years. She says she loves knowing a little bit about a lot of things.
For such a funny lady, Chelsea has serious goals. “When I was thirteen or fourteen, I started to tell myself that I want to change the world. People would laugh when I told them that and would ask me how I could do it. I don’t yet know how, but I know I want to bring peace and understanding to this world, and change it.”
Chelsea says her favorite outdoor spot in Bend is a big dog-friendly hike away (and she would have to kill us if she told us where), but her favorite local spot is the booth in the back of El Rodeo’s bar. About Bend, she says, “We’re past the way Bend once was, and many lovely people have moved here. I hope we can strike a balance between keeping what we have but not just living in a bubble. It’s so good to let your bubble pop a little and let in other interesting perspectives. And, now is the time to get active. If you don’t like how Bend is changing, don’t complain, get involved, accept the challenges, and help steer Bend into the future.” For newcomers, she says that the perspective you bring to Bend will have a huge impact on what you get out of it. “Make up your own mind about Bend. And, please don’t trash the place. This isn’t Disneyland.”
Heartbroken local fans are grappling with Chelsea’s upcoming move to Chicago, in late fall. “It’s time for me to try something bigger.” No matter how far her career takes her, Chelsea will always call Bend home.
Thanks, Chelsea for showing us the serious side of great comedy! If you want to be profiled in Go Local Bend, or want us to profile someone else, please email email@example.com.
Go Local Bend
Photo credit: jasonbagby.com
Story credit: Kathy Schroeder