Sure I’m laughing… but is it comedy?

laughter yoga
Alicia Dattner leads laughter yoga every week..
I have seen a lot of standup comedy. I have seen thousands of comedians perform in the last dozen years. And I've performed somewhere between one thousand and two thousand times… What did that do for me? I laughed a lot.
But I also got pretty jaded and, well, admittedly, a little bitter. I got so into analyzing the jokes, comparing comedians, cataloging bits, and thinking about what makes the funny… I stopped really laughing after a while. When I did laugh, it was either kind of fake, or just a smile… a "that's clever" smile. I lost the actual pleasure I went into comedy for in the first place. The physical sensation of uncontrollable paroxyms shaking my body. The sense of being totally powerless, driven to pleasure. An itchy sort of pleasure… Joke-tellers are tickling your mind.
The only way I truly find that uncontrollable laughter these days is watching reruns of America's Funniest Home Videos on Youtube. I consider myself a relatively intellectual person with relatively refined tastes… But something about watching people fall while dancing, get kicked in the groin,houses fall over, pants falling off… It kills me! Something to do with shutting of my brain and letting my limbic system take over. I laugh so hard that I start to cry–and then I'm bawling and laughing, tears, drool, happy and sad,gleaning some perspective on this short, crazy life we fall into and are pulled from… It's very spiritual. But I decided there has to be another way to get my rocks off like that.
What's a comic to do? Laughter Yoga. Of course! When I returned from traveling in India last year, I resolved to become a certified Laughter Yoga leader. I trained with Lydia Gonzalez, who trained with the Indian inventor of Laughter Yoga, Dr. Madan Kataria. And now I lead Laughter Yoga every Tuesday in Dolores Park.
What the heck is Laughter Yoga? Do you hold poses and laugh? Yeah… but mostly we just bounce around and giggle. Shut off the brain. We laugh for no reason, we act like idiots, we roll down hills, we do yogic breathing, sun salutations… It's great. Plus, did you know that laughing reduces hunger cravings? I just read it in a study!
Wanna come? It's Tuesdays at 6:00 pm in Dolores Park, at 19th Street, on the East side, just to the left of the steps. Look for the sandwich board sign and silly people. Suggested donation $10. You can sign up in advance at eventbrite.

Shatner Does Palin, Pulled from Youtube

A couple of nights ago on the Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien, William Shatner took parts of Sarah Palin's goodbye speech and rendered them in a way that only he can. He and maybe Ginsberg. With bongos and bass behind him. It's comedy because it's classic beat-style poetry.
"[The cold, though…] doesn't it split the Cheechakos from the Sourdoughs? And then in the summertime such extreme summertime about a hundred and fifty degrees hotter than just some months ago, than just some months from now"
Can't find it on Youtube? That's because NBC would prefer that you view their copyrighted material on their own site, where you can see the sexy Gatorade ad first. I understand that. We all gotta make a living. So, the poetry of Alaska's frozen plains, brought to you by Palin, brought to you by Shatner, brought to you by NBC, brought to you by Gatorade, brought to you by examiner.com me, brought to you by me. Now if that's not community and connection bringing us all together in a swirling matrix of love and commerce, I don't know what is.
See the clip here.

costa rica, part deux–i mean part dos.

How 'bout that 4th of July, ay? Are we Independent yet? I got a sunburn on my midriff due to SF Mime Troupe related activities. Lots of good times with friends this weekend!
So there was some more important story about the legislature (what could be more important than laughter, I ask you?) so the reporters didn't come last week. No big. They may come tomorrow… Who knows.. Either way we'd love for you to come out and enjoy yourselves at laughter yoga. See below for more info… You can sign up at eventbrite.com or just show up… Bring a friend to Laughter Yoga for free!
Costa Rica, Part Deux–I mean Dos
So you wanted to hear about the rest of my Costa Rica trip… Ok: the highlights. I went out in search of dancing one night on my own. Remember that I speak only broken, Sesame Street Spanish… I'm driving down the road to Quepos and I finally get past all the hotels and into the town when it begins to rain. I ask around to several people because the streets aren't labeled anywhere, find the club, Republik, and no one is there yet. It's like 9pm. They say come back around 11 or 12, I feel really silly and… old.. I want to go to sleep at 11 or 12. I chat with the door guys and one of them mentions that there's some salsa dancing at Byblos. So I walk back down the alley to the rental car, a Daihatsu 4wd, and drive back up the windy road past the hotels and hotel restaurants in the now pouring rain.
I pull into Byblos, which has a sports bar and casino and pool tables, and there are exactly four people dancing to some recorded music–two Costa Rican guys with two white girls. Everyone seems to know each other. After a walk around the place, I buy a Pilsen ale (no, not Pilsner) and pull up a seat. I manage to ignore all men who want to talk, chat with a couple of women (who perhaps suspect I'm a lesbian because I'm ignoring the men and talking to them?) I sip an eighth of my beer and get up and sit closer to the dance floor three times. Finally, one of the guys who was dancing before asks me to dance–the one who totally knows what he's doing (yes!) I say, "I don't know how, is that ok?" Because I've only danced Salsa like three times. It's ok with him, but this is Cha Cha, so he shows me that. "Relax!" seems to be the only word he knows in English. He counts out "Uno, dos, tres!" for me and swivels my hips such that I look like I Belong on the dance floor. Unlike in swing dancing, where there are three-minute dances, here each song blends into the next. We dance Cha Cha for 20 minutes and then he asks if I want to do Salsa. We dance Salsa for another 20 minutes. I am drenched with sweat and we're doing twirls and dips and it seems that everyone in the bar is watching us like it's Dancing with the Stars, but that may be just my imagination. When the music ends, I'm dizzy and my hair is wet and I know his name is Mario, but nothing else. I drink some agua and see my feet are blistered from dancing. As I leave he waves goodnight, and I get to sleep by 12. Huzzah!
Ok, so that was a long story and I'm tired… Also, we went on a zipline tour of the canopy of the rainforest, which was really fun, and the last day when I was sitting by the pool, the spider monkies and iguanas came to visit me! Dozens of little spider monkies and their babies jumping in the trees next to me. And an iguana and several lizards walked almost right up to me. Wished I had my camera then. Ok, pictures to follow soon.
Ciao,
Alicia
STANDUP COMEDIAN, ET CETERA