Like-Minded is a new column where the Reporter asks two people in related fields or with a common bond to let us eavesdrop on their conversation.
Her other car is a yoga mat. She is 100 percent happy 88 percent of the time, and when she’s not, she’s laughing about it. Beth Lapides is many things, but mostly she’s funny. The writer, actor, yogi and de facto guru of L.A.’s alternative comedy scene founded the legendary Un-Cabaret comedy show/workshop in L.A. more than a decade ago and consequently helped nourish the careers of some of the era’s most talented and, umm, eccentric comics. People such as Patton Oswalt, Margaret Cho, Andy Dick, Taylor Negron and Dana Gould used the Un-Cabaret’s experimental environment as a sort of petri dish where the biochemical byproducts of laughter flourished, and at least a few careers were spawned.
Lapides will be in Ventura this weekend with her life and business partner, Greg Miller, to teach regular folk (but comics are welcome) how to (en)lighten up and laugh at themselves with her quasi-spiritual “Comedian’s Way” workshop.
Randy Lubas, veteran standup comic and owner of the Ventura Harbor Comedy Club, took a few minutes to get serious with Lapides about the art of making people laugh.
— Michel Cicero
Randy Lubas: What was the origin of the name “Un-Cabaret” and how did it differ from a typical comedy show?
Beth Lapides: The name had a very clear moment of birth. I was doing a show at the Women’s Building in downtown L.A., and it was one of those nights when the audience was laughing almost too much, and afterwards I said, “It wasn’t quite as funny as you thought. When was the last time you laughed?” And they said, “We’re lesbians and gay and we can’t go to comedy shows.” And I said, “I’ll start a show that will be un-homophobic, unmisogynist, unxenophobic and . . uncabaret!”How would it be different than a more classic comedy show? At first it was just very different in terms of attitude. Then we became clear that we wanted it to be more about storytelling, more personal. What ended up happening was that we had a lot of repeat audience, and that became a dialogue between the audience and the performers. It was very intimate — I’m a sucker for intimacy.
Lubas: I’ve been doing standup for 30 years and comedians always say to each other, “Did it get a laugh?” You refer to giving a laugh instead of getting a laugh.
I guess in my own practice of comedy, [getting a laugh] always rang kind of a false bell. Why are you there? To be on stage and to try to be getting? They already paid. Aren’t you supposed to be giving? You’re not there for you. It’s a joy and pleasure and one of the best jobs on earth, but you’re there for them.
Lubas: We do a standup workshop at Ventura Harbor Comedy Club that lasts six weeks. Yours is in one day; what is that like?
We’ve taught people who are not comedians but want to use comedy in their life. People come to our lab who want to understand their lives in a different way. It’s a way of taking the ow out of now. Part of comedy is to look at your life differently, that you are on the classic fool’s journey, how to understand your mistakes as funny rather than beating yourself up, understanding the ironies, finding your own unique voice. That’s a lifelong journey. So we reflect back to people who they are, and that can happen incredibly quickly. We get a lot of people who are at a big turning point in their life. They need the next thing. There is a therapeutic level to what
The Comedian’s Way, Saturday, Aug. 8,1 p.m., at A Place of Peace, 896 E. Main St., Ventura. Seating is limited. R.S.V.P. at 653-1335. $30 suggested donation. 323-993-3305 or http://bethlapides.com/node/110.