Laughing for a cause

Comedy can be make even the most uncomfortable topics bearable. It has the ability to bring a community together, as the language of comedy can be universal – for the most part.

There’s a growing comedy scene in Bakersfield that’s been in the making for years. One local comic, Jessica De La Garza, is the first woman producing comedy shows in Bakersfield.

By day, De La Garza supervises an accounting unit and by night she is stand-up comedian. De La Garza uses her stand-up routines as an opportunity to familiarize the audience with a personal battle she faces.

“My personal style is self-deprecating, sarcastic,” she said. “I really like to use it as a platform; I like to bring up female topics. I just had surgery for endometriosis and a lot of people don’t know what that is. I think that this is a great platform to help, in a funny way of course, people discover what it is. Or at least be aware of it. When you hear the word more and more, you’re just more familiar with it.”

The comedy scene in Bakersfield is one that is rarely talked about but has quietly been growing. De La Garza has only been a part of it for a year but can see the direction it is headed in.

“It’s a really great time to look into it because it’s really growing,” she said. “I’m one comedian in Bakersfield; the scene was around before I was here. There are other people who have contributed and really made the scene what it is today.”

Margaret Haggard, a local comedian who has appeared in a number of De La Garza’s productions, has been in the comedy scene for five years.

“I love it; it’s very supportive,” Haggard said. “We have probably the biggest scene between Fresno and LA. It’s really easy to get stage time here with the open mics. It’s just a great opportunity for people to get their feet wet and figure out if comedy is for them before they move on to LA. Our scene is a lot more forgiving, I think.”

De La Garza started her own production company, DLG CO, in December of last year. Since then, she has put on a number of productions. Each one of her shows has a local cause with local support. The Hens Roost is one of their sponsors. For their St. Patrick’s Day show, a portion of the proceeds went to the Endometriosis Foundation of America, as the month of March was Endometriosis Awareness Month.

“Now I’m really focusing on giving back to the community, so every show I do, there’s going to be a local cause,” said De La Garza.

Their next upcoming show, Laughing For a Cause Comedy Show, will be in honor of Mental Health Awareness month and will benefit the local chapter.

The show will be held at The Back Door on May 18 at 7 p.m.

Tickets for the show start at $10, with a nightclub ticket option for $20. Tickets will be available through Eventbrite.

At the end of the day, stand-up comedy is an art. Both De La Garza and Haggard agree that it takes an understanding of your crowd. With the community in the forefront, the comedy scene in Bakersfield is steadily growing.

“I’m a firm believer in supporting local,” De La Garza said. “When local supports local, we all prosper.” 

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