by Matt Baume. Photos by Georg Lester
What sets comedian Marga Gomez apart from other Bay Area comics? “My vagina material,” she told BARtab. “It’s very dry.”
Gomez is a local comedy veteran, having started way back at The Valencia Rose in 1984, “which makes me some kind of comedy cougar,” she says. Since then, she’s performed in Comic Relief, at Prides all around the country, and was named Best Comedian two years in a row by the San Francisco Bay Guardian. Her favorite venue? David Hawkins’ Blue Room on Tuesday nights at Club 93, where gay and straight comics alike get super-raunchy.
But Gomez is by no means San Francisco’s only LGBT comic. The more seriously this city tries to take itself, the more jokes there are to tell. And October’s shaping up to be the funniest month of the year. (The least funniest, in case you’re wondering, is March. March is for jerks.)
This month marks the first ever Out Loud Comedy & Arts Festival, a three-day extravaganza of national and local LGBT comic talent. The fest includes events at the Swedish American Hall and the Castro Theater starting October 8, and boasts a lineup of dozens of funny ladies, funny men, and funny others.
The fun kicks off on Friday with the Rooftop Comedy Coming Out at the Swedish American Hall, featuring Maggie Faris, Marga Gomez, and Ian Harvie, then moves on to Rooftops and Bottoms, hosted by local fave Ronn Vigh and featuring Fortune Feimster, Thai Rivera, and Jim David.
Saturday, October 9 turns up the heat with The Big Gay Tour kickoff at the Castro at 6pm, which includes video sketches and live bits with Jonny McGovern (the Gay Pimp), Erin Foley, and Stephen Guarino. That’s followed by An Evening with Sandra Bernhard and The Drag Queens of Comedy, featuring Sasha Soprano, Lady Bunny, Jackie Beat, Shangela, Heklina, and Miss Coco Peru (of “Didja ever get cum in your eye? It buuuuurns!” Trick fame).
And as if that wasn’t enough, there’ll be Comedy and Crafts booths at the Swedish American Hall, where you can pick up some hilarious art by local crafters. We hope there’ll be spinning bowties.
Rooftops and Bottoms host Ronn Vigh can be seen tickling Harvey’s audiences every Tuesday night, but he had a rough San Francisco debut back in 2001.
“I wasn’t that good,” he said, recalling the startled looks on his first audiences’ faces. “I think it was kind of shocking.” Since then, he’s found a voice that feels more authentically his own.
“There are tons and tons of open mic nights,” he said. “There’s no reason not to get better here. There are all these venues to go to and improve and improve and improve.”
Vigh’s a big fan of open mics at Brainwash, and he’s really looking forward to introducing up-and-coming comics at the Out Loud Fest. “These are going to be the next Margaret Chos and the next Ellen DeGenereses,” he said.
Funny That Way
Nick Leonard’s busy, too. He’s the organizer of Q Comedy Showcase, successor to the beloved Josie’s Cabaret and featuring a rotation of comics, spoken word, drag, and music. It’s a night of laughs, but with a serious purpose. “Our goals are to support new voices from our LGBTQ community and provide a space for them to grow and develop,” he said, “without having to compromise their material for the mainstream.”
And there’s no where else he’d rather be. Here in San Francisco, said Leonard, “the comedy scene is probably the most supportive in the country, with comics helping each other and taking turns running the many small comedy rooms that keep the scene alive. So far it’s been resistant to East Coast or LA-style ruthless power trippers. The comics and venues are, with few exceptions, totally supportive and willing to help each other out.”
Like Marga Gomez, Lisa Geduldig is a veteran of the local comedy scene. She’s best known for producing Kung Pao Kosher Comedy, a Christmas comedy show in a Chinese restaurant, every year since 1993. Since then, it’s grown from one show to eight over the course of four days. Geduldig is also the creator of Funny Girlz, a yearly smorgasbord of lady comics, and the The George Bush Going Away Party. That show ran from 2004 to 2008, she said, “and stopped because it finally worked.”
Look for Geduldig’s A Muslim, A Mormon, and a Jew Walk Into a Bar: The Comedy of Religion this spring. And she expects to also produce The Color of Funny: A Multi-Culti Comedy Show.
Her regular gig is producing Comedy Returns to El Rio, which hits the Mission bar every second Monday of the month. Geduldig got her start there in 1989, and the October 11 show features Reannie Roads, Evert Villaseñor, Brendan Lynch, and Toby Muresianu.
Geduldig’s favorite venues include the Brava Theater (“not a bad seat in the house”), the Herbst (“It’s so elegant”), and the Victoria, which just happens to be the setting of the October 21 re-premiere of All About Evil, Peaches Christ’s new touring gore-comedy. The film, which stars Natasha Lyonne as a blood-thirsty theater owner, was shot at the Victoria.
Peaches & Creeps
Joshua Grannell, an entertainer and filmmaker with a very deep connection to Peaches Christ, sees a special link between comedy and horror. “I think both genres really offer great escape,’” he said. “People go see both comedy and horror to have fun, get out of their heads, forget about life, and enjoy some fun and fantasy.”
And the All About Evil screenings promise plenty of diversions. In what Grannell calls “a 4-D experience,” actors from the film walk the aisles of the theater, menacing the audience. Along Grannell’s national tour with All About Evil, local performers have been adding to the “in the aisles, in your face” heightened level of entertainment.
“Who gives a shit about 3D when you can have actual people feasibly come and murder you while you’re watching a movie?” he says.
As the All About Evil tour returns to its point of origin, Grannell already has big plans for the future. He’s planning to make a few short films in 2011 as he writes his next feature, thanks to a green light from investors in his new Peaches Christ Productions.
Grannell sees spectacle as a crucial ingredient of putting on a show. “I think of Peaches as a ‘production’ and lots of people are involved in her world these days, including my long-time costume designer, my graphic designer, my stage manager, as well as musicians, performers, writers, artists and more who come together to create shows and movies and have fun,” he says. “I love being collaborative, and in the case of Peaches, it truly did take a village to raise this queen.”
Upcoming Comedy Shows:
Ronn Vigh: Funny Tuesdays, every Tuesday at Harvey’s, 500 Castro St. www.harveyssf.com
All About Evil: San Francisco, The Victoria Theatre Spooktacular! October 21-24 at 8pm. www.allaboutevilthemovie.com
Q Comedy Showcase: Nich Leonard hosts, first Mondays of each month, 7:30 pm at Martuni’s; 4 Valencia St. www.qcomedy.com
Marga Gomez: Performing Oct. 8 at the Out Loud Comedy Festival, at La Pena in Berkeley, November 19 & 20, and on New Year’s Eve for Theatre Rhino. www.margagomez.com
Styling and makeup: Jordan L. Moore (Geduldig, Vigh), Tria Connell (Peaches), Sandra O. Noshi-Di’n't (Leonard).