If it's true that laughter is the best medicine, then pull out the cosmic ostrich feather and prepare to be tickle-tortured. After the last few -- make that exactly three -- years, our country as a whole has been held hostage by colossal negativity and anxiety of well-chronicled proportions. Truly tummy-wrenching stuff. Which is why political advocate and public-health lawyer Michelle Simon, founder of the Center for Informed Food Choices, is presenting an evening of food humor -- uncovering some of the most disgusting and hilarious truths about the way we eat, where it comes from, and where it's all going.
For this year's edition of the third annual Naturally Funny Comedy Show, Simon has lined up her heaviest hitters yet: Bill Santiago (see Billboard, February 4, 2004), Aundre the Wonder Woman, and Joe Klocek, with veteran performer Ross Turner as host. In keeping with the philosophy behind CIFC, the evening will take on a decidedly political tone. All four comedians are ready to serve up a healthy portion of fact and funny. "There's really no secret to doing politically-themed comedy," says Oakland resident Turner, a regular host of San Jose Improv. "All you need is a microphone and a resentment. And you don't have to make anything up, either. In politics, if it's the truth, it's already ridiculous." Not coincidentally, the stand-ups and the audience find themselves in fairly progressive waters here in the East Bay, where topics like corrupt food industry policies, government regulations, or the contents of a McDonald's Happy Meal won't make anyone too squeamish. "You really need an urban audience to make a smart show like this work," Ross continues. "The only political jokes I can do in rural America have a punch line that ends in 'Lewinsky.' Believe it or not, people outside the Bay Area still think that's funny."
While we're handing out kudos to our own fair region, it seems apparent by the lines at Whole Foods and the crowds at the local farmers' markets that a lot of folks around here are already well informed on the benefits of locally grown, unprocessed, and organic foods -- but even the most enlightened can use a refresher course in the basic food groups, and would probably be shocked and appalled to find that often, the food we consume is actually consuming us, dollar by dollar and acre by acre.
Local favorite Aundre the Wonder Woman began her comedy career at Steve Harvey's Comedy House in Dallas, and has been called Oakland's "Funniest Comic on the Strip." She believes that "comedy has more potential for social change than all the arsenals of the world combined" -- encouraging news considering there's so much to make fun of right now. The show (Simon promises "our best one yet") benefits both the CIFC as well as National Radio Project, producers of Making Contact. It takes place Saturday, April 10, at the First Presbyterian Church at 2619 Broadway in Oakland, with delicious, politically correct vegan desserts served by the Emeryville catering company Daily Harvest, at 7 p.m. The comics begin at 8. A donation of $20 is requested for advance tickets, $25 at the door. For reservations, go to InformedEating.org or call 510-465-0322.