The Walk of Shame
Of hiking and humor
What: "The Walk of Shame" with Sean Powers
Where: Firehouse Arts and Events Center, 1314 Harris Ave.
WHEN: 7pm Thurs.-Fri., Sept. 23-24
Cost: $15; 10 seats will be held at the door for each show
Wednesday, September 22, 2021
Most people who set out to hike the Pacific Crest Trail probably wouldn’t consider a Bigfoot mask, a teeny-tiny hand and a blow-up ultralight microphone to be among the supplies needed to successfully navigate a 2,700-mile journey from the border of Mexico to the far reaches of Washington state.
But Sean Powers isn’t your average thru-hiker. When he set out from Southern California in April, his goals were more ambitious that simply putting one foot in front of the other and making it to the trail’s terminus. Along the way, Powers also wanted to hone his comedic chops for a couple of standup shows he’d booked with the help of Bellingham Entertainment at Fairhaven’s Firehouse Arts and Events Center. The aforementioned props were designed to help him do so. (Don’t worry, he still had plenty of room for a sleeping bag.)
At “The Walk of Shame” shows taking place Sept. 23-24 at the Firehouse, audience members will likely hear more about what led Powers—a 28-year-old world traveler who spent recent years teaching high school students in Bogota, Columbia—on the PCT path. He says the show is comprised of observational comedy and storytelling, and that he won’t be making fun of anyone other than himself.
“A thru-hike is a crazy thing to do, so you are bound to run into some crazy characters along the way,” Powers allows. “However, most of the people you meet are impressive and interesting people. From teachers, former homeless, successful entrepreneurs, and Harvard grads to former professional athletes, doctors and military vets, it’s a diverse place in terms of life experiences.
“The trail is humbling because after the first few steps we’re all on the same path, using mostly the same gear, and have the same goal in mind,” he adds. “The only thing different is the stories from our past that we might choose to share.”
A couple of people Powers met, Half-Pint and Arrow, were also “trail angels”—helpful humans who volunteer time, money, rides and food to Pacific Crest Trail hikers. Since ending his PCT hike at the end of August, Powers has been staying with them while working on his upcoming shows in Bellingham.
Half-Pint and Arrow aren’t their real names, of course. Powers says it’s a tradition for thru-hikers tackling the PCT to choose a nickname for themselves. Trick is, is has to be one other people give them based on an embarrassing story or physical characteristic.
“Everyone is given a trail name, and mine is ‘Shame,’” Powers says. “I reveal the origin of the name and some shameful experiences in the live show, so I can’t say too much. ‘The Walk of Shame’ captures the fun but grueling experience of surviving a thru-hike and process of becoming a comedian.”
While he acclimates to regular showers, cell phone service and indoor plumbing, Powers has been looking back at “lifetime of lessons” he learned over nearly five months on the trail. The pop-up shows utilizing the blow-up microphone he’d packed showed him that people not only love to laugh, but they are also supportive of ambition.
He’s also learned to have fun, and to roll with the punches when a joke doesn’t resonate with its intended audience. Patience is also key, he adds, especially since he knows it can take years for a comedian to find their true voice.
“Whenever I get comedic advice, it’s to just keep going,” Powers says. “Work through the good and the bad without letting either go to your head. So it’s like the Pacific Crest Trail—you just have to keep pressing forward.”